Firms often develop specialties to fall back on when times get bad. I remember one particular accounting firm that decided to get into advising on bankruptcies and business reorganizations, figuring that in bad economic times such a niche would perform better than its other existing niches.

Of course, getting into a new specialty often requires a CPA to study a new practice area, develop skills in it, and get recognition as an expert in the field. I think I have found a new specialty area that firms should consider. Unlike bankruptcy, where it might be hard to find a staff member to volunteer, I think there would be many volunteers for mine.

Most importantly, the payoff, at times, has been proven to be in the millions, although there are some obstacles.

Let's first discuss the success stories. There was Chris Moneymaker, restaurant controller who put down $40 and won $2.5 million in the 34th annual World Series of Poker. Now we have another accountant joining the ranks of professional poker players, according to a story in the Montana Standard. It seems that Tim Martz, a CPA, left his job as the newspaper's controller to play poker full-time. The decision was made after he won $40,000 in one year playing poker on the side.

It is reported that Martz indicated a good poker player has skills similar to that of a good accountant. He added that they are both "good at determining odds, devising a budget strategy. and know when to pick their battles."

Makes sense to me, It seems that a CPA might be well-suited for the role of professional gambler. In both professions, you have to be very good with numbers and deal with substantial amounts of cash.

But here's the problem. CPAs need to gain some experience first and that can be very hard to do. Yes, you can practice on the Internet, but if a firm's server is set up like my company's, it is impossible to do this in the office because all the poker sites are barred from access. Hopefully, some CPA firms are more progressive, and will allow their staff to branch out. Of course, there is the second problem. I am not sure any state board of accountancy will be too happy with firms developing a plethora of professional poker players, eventually sharing in the revenue that these "niche specialists" generate.

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