A University of Maryland alumnus is using poker strategies to provide business coaching for his clientele.
A self-described “pokerpreneur,” Josh Silverstone is the CEO of Aces Raise, a privately owned, home-based business he founded in spring 2013. Aces Raise offers business coaching centered on the card game’s fundamental principles — a concept Silverstone developed before graduating from this university in 2005, he said.
“It all came together while I was at College Park,” Silverstone said.
While organizing poker tournaments for this university’s Zeta Psi fraternity chapter, of which he was a member, Silverstone realized the game’s dynamics could be incorporated into the entrepreneurial world. This holds true especially when dealing with colleagues and clientele, Silverstone said.
“People are very different and fall into certain personality styles and behaviors,” Silverstone said. “The idea is to adjust to other people’s styles so that you can better relate to them.”
Silverstone learned the nuances of the game through the coaching of professional poker player Andrew Seidman. The two reviewed hands together, and Seidman taught Silverstone advanced strategies that he now uses to teach his own clients, Silverstone said.
Poker is all about reading others and reacting appropriately, Silverstone said, which can also lead to success in a business environment. Other parallels include risk-taking, different communication styles and knowing when to adjust a game plan, Silverstone said.
Silverstone finds new clients through networking events and presentations, he said. While Aces Raise offers unique services, Silverstone said he has no issue with other business coaches — in fact, he views any “competition” as an invaluable asset for his clients.
“If I can share somebody else’s information that could help one of my clients, I’m going to do it.” Silverstone said. “At the end of the day, I want to help people learn, help them succeed and help them grow.”
Ash Shukla, a financial planner, became an Aces Raise client just more than a year ago. Although he had never played poker before, Shukla wanted to see how he could enhance his decision-making skills.
“His service is very unique,” Shukla said. “Not many people offer poker and business in a combination.”
Aces Raise has given Shukla a new perspective on client interaction and has also allowed him to attract an entirely new client base, he said. As a bonus, Shukla gets a chance to learn about the basics of poker from Silverstone, who participates in World Series of Poker tournaments.
Silverstone "is also teaching me how to play poker a little bit,” Shukla said. “He’s a really, really good strategist.”
Silverstone works with business owners, entrepreneurs and sales teams, but he offers traditional poker coaching and training as well. Poker player and private masseur Marc Rubman said he has met with Silverstone three times in the past four months to analyze various poker hands and moves.
“He tries to get in our minds,” Rubman said. “What was I really thinking when I made that move I did?”
Rubman said his work with Silverstone has caused him to be more confident at the poker table, but he has not applied the strategies of the game into his work as a masseur.
“I’ve never played a poker hand while giving a massage,” Rubman said. “That would be a stretch.”
Serving a somewhat niche demographic, Silverstone was unable to reach early financial goals he had set for himself. While he spent the first two years of business laying Aces Raise’s foundation, the past six months have been more profitable, Silverstone said.
While he hasn’t met all of his revenue goals, Silverstone said Aces Raise is on the rise. Regardless of profit, the pokerpreneur is happy with the hand he’s been dealt.
“I’m doing what I love and what I want to do,” Silverstone said. “The people that I have served and worked with are continuing to come back.”