Magic to highlight conference

Jul 18, 2006 3:46 AM

Earvin "Magic" Johnson, one of the most beloved figures in all of sports, will deliver the keynote address at next week’s Bodog.com Marketing Conference, to be held at Wynn Las Vegas.

One of basketball’s all-time greats, Johnson is a Hall of Fame Player who earned the moniker "Magic" because of his ability to dazzle fans with his brilliance on the hardwood court.

That brilliance earned Johnson many NBA honors, including five championship rings with the L.A. Lakers, 12 All-Star appearances, a gold medal in the 1992 Olympics and many more.

More important, many fans marveled at how Johnson embraced the game with enthusiasm and passion, something sorely lacking in today’s athletes.

In fact, many observers believe the magic literally went out of professional basketball when Johnson left the game several years ago.

After he left basketball, Johnson built an impressive business empire, which spans movie theaters, Starbucks restaurants and other entertainment venues.

"His skills on the court can only be matched by his business intuition off the court," said Calvin Ayre, founder and CEO of Bodog.com. "Magic has served as a role model for many, and it is a privilege to have him speak to our delegates about branding — a topic I am extremely passionate about."

The Marketing Conference is schedule for July 23-25.

Bodog.com founder Calvin Ayre has his own success story to tell delegates. It took him six years to become a billionaire, which he attributes to "smart risk taking at a high stakes table."

Ayres, who lives in a $3 million Costa Rican mansion, last year took in $7.3 billion in online wagers through his privately held company.

With its 16 million customers, Bodog has 145,000 "regulars" who place bets at least once a week.

Ayre said he draws lessons from poker that he applies to his business, and even as a metaphor for life.

"You can’t control the cards you’re dealt, but you can control how you play them," he said.

Ayre added that sales and business people can apply the poker skills to their endeavors:

”¡ Get your nerves under control.

”¡ Read the other guy.

”¡ Know when to fold them.

”¡ Play to win, don’t play not to lose.

”¡ Survive a slump with style.