Last summer I went to the States to play in the World Series of Poker. I was supposed to stay for a month and a half, but I decided to extend my trip after the WSOP was over. I was in need of business inspiration and went looking for it in California.
I've always run business together with poker. I've actually been able to improve my poker game by improving my business side. That's the way I approach poker, from a very business-oriented focus. I feel that I can do some good poker things but I have a feeling that I also can do some very good business things. For me the trick is the combination of the two. There are a lot of things that you can learn in poker and apply to business and vice versa. I do think I've found the right balance, but it took me a while.
Californians have a very different approach to business than most of the rest of the world, and it seems to be doing wonders. Most new technology ideas come from the San Francisco area. All these amazing new businesses start there. A lot of foreign people are moving to the Bay Area to run their own businesses and to study. It cannot be a coincidence. Something dynamic is happening there. What's inspiring them?
I spent a couple of days at Stanford, walking around and meeting people. I visited Google and Apple. My goal was to understand the way that people enjoy their lives there while attending to business. When you have a feeling that you've found your place in life you should follow that instinct. Californians seem quite good at that.
My own instinct is to move to California in a few years and do the same thing I'm doing in Italy - run businesses and play poker. But I want to understand why my instinct is taking me there. As a businessman and as poker player, you learn to listen to your feelings. But hard data is always helpful too.
That trip to California gave me a vision. Well, I always had a vision, but now it's more clear. Now I know how to pursue it. It's good to have a goal. Knowing what the next step should be is something that makes me feel really happy. And the next step for me is innovating. In my opinion, the poker industry needs some new big thing right now. That's what I want to bring to the poker industry. That's my mission.
I've got a tough challenge ahead of me. If I want a holiday along the way I'll go to Miami Beach or the Bahamas. But if I need more inspiration, I'll go to California.
Luca Pagano is a member of Team PokerStars Pro