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What playing BLACKJACK taught me about CRE


I LOVE to play BLACKJACK...I should say, I love WINNING...the losing, not so much. That is why I don't gamble anymore...the LOSING! Regardless of my mathematical methods of manipulating my wagers, the result was too often predictable...the house ended up with my hard earned money.

I was painfully reminded of my aversion to losing last weekend as we arrived in Las Vegas for "Mike Madness"...a term we coined (like that?) for the celebration of our middle son's thirty years of life. I watched countless hands of Blackjack being played and lost by my wife and daughter. Fortunately, they are small time gamblers...twenty bucks is a HUGE we had gas money to get home AND the equity in our home is untapped.

So just what did playing Blackjack teach me about CRE?

You gotta stack the odds in your favor. When I played, I would search far and wide for a single deck table. Rarely would I sit down with a shoe wielding dealer (multiple decks for those of you who prefer to visit Florida). The reason is simple...the odds are better for you with fewer cards. Working with control is a way to tilt the odds in your favor in a CRE transaction. There is still no guarantee, but at least if a deal is made, you are involved.

Don't play if your stake is too small. You have to be willing to watch your pile of chips dwindle as the deck turns in your favor. Generally, things will rebound if you're adequately staked. Too many newbies (and vets for that matter) enter the commercial real estate game with improper staying power. If you can't withstand a dry spell, you're forced to work on deals that are quicker and smaller or compromise your ethics to close a sale.

Play the percentages. Always split Aces and Eights or double down with an Eleven if the dealer is showing Six or fewer. You can occasionally hit a Twelve if the dealer is showing Seven or better...but I prefer to stand pat. Work on high percentage commercial real estate deals...not the airport runway that is purportedly for sale that you eavesdropped at your kid's ballet recital.

Avoid playing with amateurs. How incredibly mad are you when the last guy to the dealer's right hits with a two up and the dealer showing four? Invariably, the guy busts with a ten rather that let the table benefit from the dealer busting. Too often, in our CRE world, we are on opposite ends of a broker who isn't a pro...and the deal suffers.

Cut your losses. Sometimes, in Blackjack and CRE, you just gotta move on to the next transaction. I'm guessing if your client is ducking your calls, you shouldn't spend the fee.

Just remember, that squeal of delight that you hear when the Blackjack dealer busts or your colleague closes a nice one probably started with the above points in mind.


By: Allen Buchanan

Principal | Lee & Associates


(714) 564-7104

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