Raising the Stakes

Book Snapshot: Raising the Stakes

Raising the Stakes in Business Politics and Cardrooms and Beyond chronicles an ambitious woman’s unusual path through the converging worlds of business, politics, and poker. Wendeen tells her story not merely through interviews and observations as a reporter but more personally as a longtime player, with a sometimes heart-wrenching, often humorous, and always thought-provoking look at the people who navigate through a wild variety of poker situations with varying degrees of grace. Along the way the reader will pick up practical tips to use at any negotiating table, poker or otherwise.

Populating her stories is an array of colorful main characters. “Suds,” for example, is the world-class poker player and smooth Romeo who inspires Wendeen to play the game. “Stiltman” is a hardcore poker hustler. He is also the card-room operator who turns his underground club into a megabucks business and a dangerous venue before and after he goes to prison. Adding context to these lives is a bold-faced supporting cast of more than one hundred well-known people, poker champions, business moguls, princes, presidents, mobsters, and movie stars among them. Here is a quick sampling of encounters in Power Poker Dame:

– Rudy Giuliani seeks her counsel on raising the stakes in the “ice cream truck”
– George Pataki re-raises pulling Wendeen into his administration
– Wayne Newton takes bets on his libel case with Wendeen at Casa de Shenandoah
– Donald Trump calls Wendeen to his Mara Lago estate
– World Poker Tour CEO Lyle Berman’s bluff takes Wendeen off the IPO bus
– AOL/Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons folds against her merger advice
– Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno holds the hot hand with Wendeen’s mother
– James Woods tests the strength of Wendeen’s positional bet
– Telly Savalas gets crippled by Wendeen’s semi-bluff at the World Series of Poker
– Tobey Maguire grabs $100 from her and makes the same successful play, again
– Poker legend Doyle Brunson schools Wendeen in the ABC’s of No-Limit Hold’em
– WSOP wonder Chris Moneymaker flirts with her aces and gets crushed

From legally prohibited underground card rooms to upscale glittering poker palaces, her stories unfold amid a grand mosaic of colorful, cunning, eccentric, adrenalin-hooked characters on a quest for cash, power, and perks. In the process, she learns much about how to succeed in poker games that extend far beyond the felt.

Wendeen begins with six resolutions that roll off the tip of her tongue at her fortieth birthday bash: sell the penthouse, reorganize the business, change the oncologist, find an exciting new hobby, shed the common-law husband for good, and swear off dating married men forever. The last part goes straight down the tubes when Wendeen strolls into a Manhattan gaming club and meets Suds, a one-time pool hustler-turned-multi-millionaire businessman and poker pro.

A year later she’s sporting a five-carat diamond “no promises” ring at the 1986 World Series of Poker, where she becomes the first woman ever to finish “in the money” in the richest and most prestigious poker tournament on earth.

But poker remains just a moonlighting gig for her. By day she runs a legal/business consultancy, and intermittently she takes on public service, serving as an advisor to the likes of New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Governor George Pataki, coaching them on the finer nuances of bets and bluffs. She gains significant access and sporadic influence in their respective fledgling administrations as they attempt to shape their political destiny while neutralizing the power base of the other. All the while Wendeen puts in ten record-setting performances for a woman in major poker tournaments and world-class fields, and is always a factor in any pot she plays.

Though business recessions, fruitless romances, robberies, police raids, and the after-effects of experimental medicines periodically disrupt her climb, she continuously discovers powerful secrets about how to maximize opportunities and limit losses, thus making her a winner in myriad arenas that have historically been a man’s domain. She also learns that victory can be at once glorious and costly, and that a partner’s fidelity is a rich reward.

Poker is a serious business matter  

Thirty years after her initiation into hand-to-hand combat with a bunch of hustling card sharks, she looks back on her proven prowess at the tables where she counts 10 record setting performances as a pioneer for women in world class poker tournament competition. She says, the most stunning outcome of her poker exploits at the World Series of Poker and other tournaments around the world has not been her historical cash outs–no matter how instantly gratifying. Rather it has been the exponentially grown negotiating savvy she has acquired and applied in business, politics, and other endeavors that have enriched her personal and professional life–far beyond the baize.”

Distinguish what is important at each negotiating table 

From gray underground card rooms to upscale glittering poker palaces, her lessons in negotiation advance further at the poker table amid competitors of all stripes; colorful, eccentric, adrenalin-hooked characters from al walks of life on a quest for cash, power, and perks. In the process, she learns much about the difference between the killer instinct requisite to win the game, and the balancing act that is critical to negotiating excellence elsewhere. 

Wendeen integrates 1) a honed respect for common sense with 2) a simple 3D personal philosophy of discipline, desire, and determination, and 3) an unending pursuit of excellence in four basic negotiating strategies.  She has sealed her reputation as an expert negotiator with mastery of a 12 point “verbal people reading system.”  In “Raising the Stakes,” she melds her poker experience with her coaching experience with law firm leaders, CEO’s politicians, senior executives and special talent. She enlightens the reader, with real life illustrations on the art and science of making chancy judgment calls in a negotiation with confidence, knowing that with elevated verbal people reading tools, you can get them right most of the time.  

Raising the Stakes” disregards the notion of mysterious aptitude and puts comprehension of complicated psychological research to the side to create clear and simple pathways to negotiating excellence for anyone willing to commit her/himself to the task.    

“To a surprising degree, life can be viewed as a marathon poker game. And, no matter the subject, the heart of the negotiation is in verbal people reading expertise informed by the power of behavioral observation. Those who read words, pauses, and silences most rapidly and with greatest clarity maximize their prospects for success across the board,” says Wendeen.

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