The Law and Poker
In 2003, I watched Chris Moneymaker win the World Series of Poker Main Event on ESPN. Until that show, I had never played poker. Since 2003, I have played a little and actually won a few hands. I have found that there are often parallels between a poker hand and managing a case. For example, a common scenario in poker is when one side raises very early in the hand (pre-flop for those that play). The other players can (1) fold, (2) match the raise, (3) can raise the original raise or (4) go “all in” which means they put all their chips into the hand. The third and fourth scenarios are when it gets interesting. The original raiser has a decision to make. Do they fold, match the raise or go all in?
All of these decisions occur before the players have full information. …. This can happen in the law. For example, one side in a case may try and resolve a case before filing suit by sending a demand. The other side may negotiate and pay the demand (the equivalent of folding in poker after paying the blinds), the other side may say they aren’t going to pay the demand (match the raise), the other side may say they aren’t going to pay the demand and if you sue them, they will countersue you (raising the original raise) or the other side may actually go down to the courthouse and file a lawsuit against you (going “all in”). As an attorney, it is my job to advise as to all of these possibilities and give my recommendations based on all the available information.
The best early results occur when we put all the facts together, send a strong demand and negotiate an early settlement. But there have been a few cases over 28 years where the other side has been aggressive and immediately filed a lawsuit against my clients. Fortunately, in most of those instances, I have worked with the other lawyer to reach a satisfactory resolution before things get totally out of hand. On a couple of rare occasions, both parties have gone “all in” and that is what judges and juries are for. However, one difference between law and poker is that in the law the other side gets to see your cards before trial. So, we don’t recommend going “all-in” on your case when you have a 7 and 2 in your hand.