Thereâ??s a new business strategy on the block, and itâ??s all about Poker.

Local entrepreneur Mark Bernberg established The Poker Room during 2008 to teach the art of Game Theory to people in business, via the medium of the popular game of Poker.

 â??The Poker Room is not a poker school but rather â??strategic entertainmentâ??â? says Bernberg. â??The Poker Room is a corporoate event that serves to train stakeholders, through the means of Game Theory, how to read opponents, negotiate deals and come to decisions in order to strategise outcomes.â? 

Bernbergâ??s world class strategic training program utilising poker as the tool has seen him hosting events for many of the top banks and corporates in South Africa. â??They are fantasticâ? says AJ du Toit of Investec Private Bank. â??They taught me how to read people and situations in business. These are valuable lessons that arenâ??t taught in any EQ, Business Relationships or similar training.â?

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What is Game Theory?

The Poker Room makes use of Game Theory, which is the mathematical and psychological field that shows that the outcome of any problem or negotiation is not so much about the factors that makeup that problem but rather a result of the strategies formed by the players or people participating in that problem.

Designed as a decision making tool, Game Theory is used when your choice in a matter is not the only factor operating, as in a poker game when knowing how your opponent is going to react is as important as the cards you hold. 

Each player must assess the extent to which his or her goals match or clash with the goals of the others and then decide whether to cooperate or compete with some or all of them. It is this blending of playersâ?? mutual and conflicting interests that makes game theory so fascinating. 

â??The idea of using poker rules, techniques and tricks in the boardroom is a concept that I found to be amazingâ? says Kelly Hanegraaf of Afrifresh. â??Itâ??s a fresh idea that had the ability to make me feel empowered and confident when meeting potential clients.â?

The Poker Room event

The Poker Room events assume that participants have never played poker before.  â??We teach you the basics of the game of pokerâ? says Bernberg.  â??No previous experience is necessary, after which we present The Poker Room Business Presentationâ?¢ where participants are educated on Game Theory and how this applies to everyday business working environments.â?

After the theory section of the event, a tournament-style poker game is enacted, where participants get to test the theory.  â??The Poker Room Pure Poker Playâ?¢ allows participants to put their learning into action.  The thrill and excitement of the cards, the chips and the winning moments is compounded with the skills garnered from the previous session.  This unique teambuilding element keeps people entertained right until the last card has been dealtâ? says Bernberg.

For Dave Moriarty of Samsung Mobile The Poker Roomâ??s teambuilding event was money well spent: â??You can apply the skill sets you acquire at the event into your business ethos, which for me was the perfect win-win scenario.â?

With the world heading into recession, everyone is looking for that extra edge.  Knowing when to hold â??em and when to fold â??em has never been more important.  The Poker Room has a proven track record of success and as Johann Wolmarans of Nedbank Corporate says:  â??Business is the ultimate competition and you have to be at your best.  If you are not, show your poker face and make them believe you are the best.â?

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