Math, Robots, Stupidity: JCW, ChipTrader, Doug Hull - a Debate on this Forum

ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
edited January 2017 in General Concepts
In the thread Bets Per Hour LIve , there was a bit of throwing about of brains. Let's call it a "philosophical" controversy about "math" and poker, live reads, etc. The main participants in the debate were JCW, ChipTrader, and Doug Hull. JCW argued for large sample sizes and better math. ChipTrader was essentially arguing that the math in live games matters less than what most poker coaches believe He argued that what makes him a winner is experience, reading other players, and knowing when to quit. He set up a kind of straw man Robot who would know the math but wouldn't know any of these things. The Robot would win in the long run but no human who tried to play like our Straw-Robot would ever win. Failings creep in. Doug talked about variance in general and that even with a Robot variance hits. I think ChipTraders solution to variance is simply knowing when to quit.

I hope I haven't misrepresented the debate. Take my argument on its own terms.

I found these arguments very thought provoking. I hope others find my response thought provoking also.
ChipTrader said:
This is about MONEY .. its not about being SMART.

I have to disagree with the first half of this quote and agree with the second half.

A long time ago, when I was in college one of my physics professors said the following:

Any measurement that you make without the knowledge of its uncertainty is meaningless.

My professor argued that historically and structurally the beginning of modern science and modern mathematics was not knowledge but "knowledge of uncertainty."

I call this:

The Principle of the Measurement/Uncertainty Ratio

Every statistician knows that this measurement/uncertainty ratio is the main problem in trying to determine anything.

I think Doug, as an engineer, will understand what my prof was saying. It is simply a part of his thought processes.

The fact is that none of our measurements are accurate. Ever. What we hope for is to have some knowledge of the uncertainty of our measurements and the tolerance of the materials and instruments within that uncertainty.

When card players began to talk about estimating ranges of their opponents, instead of putting opponents on specific hands, what they were really doing is developing a knowledge of their own uncertainty of measurement. This is a very human enterprise. It involves reading the players cues and not just his VPIP.

I talked to my professor in his office about the above quote. It was a good discussion. He was a funny man and used to say a lot of ironic things. He told me that there was a psychological corollary to the "measurement/uncertainty ratio".
The most important measurement that one can have in life is the measurement of one's own stupidity .

And this is what we are talking about when discussing math vs. robots. The knowledge of our uncertainty and the measurement of our own stupidity is simply how we as human beings use the math.

I see no contradiction between trying to play mathematically correct poker and playing like a human being. They are both a part of the same process.

Let me put my conclusion as a hypothetical:

If we have some knowledge of our own uncertainty about our measurements of our opponents and her ranges; if we have some measurement of our own stupidity (faults, mistakes, leaks, egoism, etc); and if we can use all of this and more in our games to know ourselves and know others; then we should be able to win more and play better.

Easier said than done.

One aspect of our uncertainty is variance. The cards come at us randomly and we will never know which cards are coming next. We use math to estimate the probabilities of and tolerance of each hand. (But part of that tolerance is what we call "fold equity;" an uncertain estimate of our opponents tolerance of our bets.) Let us call these measurements "mathematical."

Another aspect of uncertainty is whether we should quit the poker table or not or whether we can select a good seat or see our opponents faces or measure and trust our opponents "tells". Let us call these measurements "psychological."

What ever you call all this, entropy by any other name is still entropy, positive or negative, more or less, and can be measured with some (un)certainty.

So yes, the game is not about being smart. It is usually the ones who think they are "smart" who also have false confidence, egoism, and pride. These are all psychological leaks. Such people mismeasure their own stupidity. The game is in part about not being as stupid as we usually are as biological beings who only have a limited capacity to make accurate measurements of anything, mathematically or psychologically.

And no, the game is not really about the money, it is about having the mental, physical, emotional capacity to play your best when you choose to be at the table.
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Comments

  • ChipXtractorChipXtractor Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 1,191 ✭✭✭✭
    Excellent post. Enjoyed reading it. Well done.
    Twitter = @ChipXtractor
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭✭
    The game is also about money.
    If you do not believe this, just sit in a Highstakes NL game.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    The game is also about money.
    If you do not believe this, just sit in a Highstakes NL game.

    I will concede that if you lose your money you can't play.

    In everyday life I am a NIT. I spend nothing on myself. I love to buy books.

    In poker I am shocked at myself. I am shocked about how little I care about the chips on-the-felt. I want to win because I love to win. I am competitive. The money is a token. Money is a fictional commodity anyway. Chips are a fictional representation of a fictional commodity.

    I believe that poker as a game contains a paradox. Caring about the money a whole lot makes you risk adverse and a bad poker player. If you approach poker as a game that demands excellence, like chess or boxing, then you will be a better player.

    What I love about poker is that it demands a lot of self-knowledge framed by the basic math of the universe. For any individual to be on the top of her game at any time she has to not care about the money on the felt and care more about making the best play.

    In chess we measure our progress by our ELO rating. I have found that chess players who focus on their rating sell themselves short. Focusing on mental toughness, pattern recognition, strategy, tactics... focusing on becoming better is what brings the better rating.

    There is something similar in poker.

    If you focus on the money I think it makes you a worse player. At least it makes me a worse player.

    Don't get me wrong. Money is a motivating factor in our society. It is a goal for most people. If you are motivated by winning money at poker that is something that will make you a better player because it will motivate you to study more. I just think that that should be an off-the-felt motivation.

    On the table I'm just playing for potato chips. I want to be better at the game to get more of those potato chips because that is how the game is played.

    But some day in this forum I will write about the difference between "chess excellence" and "poker excellence", chess study and poker study.

    I really love this game, partially because it brings out an aspect of my personality that I didn't know was there. In everyday life I care about making and losing money. I am very risk adverse. Over-the-felt, not so much.
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭✭
    What stakes you play?
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    I'm not in your league at all. You could and should pull rank on me. I am a beginner at this game.

    $1/$2 and $1/$3.

    If the point of your question is that at higher stakes the money matters more than at lower stakes then all I can say is this: I don't think that will be true for me. If my bankroll for poker, as opposed to my bankroll for life (separate categories), tolerated higher stakes my attitude would be the same.

    Let me put it this way. I don't want to see the money when I play. Money is an Off-the-Felt phenomena. On-the-Felt there are chips.

    I hope I play better at $5/10 than I do at $1/2 but it is still potato chips.

    Part of my attitude is that this is a game. If I lose my money I don't play the game. The money at any level is nothing to me but a way to enter and play the game. It just goes into my poker bankroll. My bankroll started at $700 in January of 2015, money I gave to myself as a New Year's present, as opposed to giving it away. I did well playing in little, small stakes home games. My bankroll before I play a game has to be above 2500 x BB. I'm close to being able to move up to 2/5. Whether I will or not depends on my own self-evaluation. ,

    My money from poker does not go into my bankroll for life, which is really my bankroll for family, friends, and charity. If I take money out of the game and use it for other purposes then that money is no longer about the game. It is some other kind of money. I have the luxury of not being a professional poker player.

    So let me ask you a question: If I lose two buy-ins and leave for home at 5/10 why should that be any different than losing two buy-ins at 1/2? It will be the same percentage of my bankroll which I use (win or lose) for nothing but poker.

    If I had a $250,000 in my bankroll and played at $10k/$20k games I would just give the money away to my family anyway and go back down to playing at reasonable stakes. But say that I did have this money. Why should I care more about losing two buy-ins at $10k/$20k than I do at losing two buy ins at $1/$2.

    There are off the felt reasons why it should matter and it has to do with opportunity costs and investment uses. For instance the money would be put to better use by helping to bring water to a village in El Salvador than it is circulating around the felt. But those are decisions that have nothing to do with the game of poker but rather with our choices in life. These are decisions we make prior to the game. The money matters off the felt. Only the chips matter on the felt.

    There is a small sense in which if we are at the poker table in the first place, and we are playing for money, then we are already on a kind of "life tilt." But that is not so bad. The game is fun.

    But I am a professional writer not a professional poker player; so my attitudes are different.

    Poker is a very, very beautiful and compelling game to me, with its own economics and ways of thinking and its own culture. At the midtown poker game I play at occasionally I have met really brilliant working class guys and have sat at tables with an ethnic mix closer to NYCs as a whole than in any other table I sat at.

    And the game is fun. When it stops being fun I will quit. When I stop getting better and wanting to get better I will quit. I did not choose poker over chess to make money at poker but because I got hooked on the game.
  • JCWJCW Red Chipper Posts: 93 ✭✭
    Imperator wrote: »
    JCW argued for large sample sizes and better math.
    How my argument keeps getting changed into this is beyond me. How was I not clear on my position that Math keeps getting added into the front of every word I said?

    I was suggesting that the other aspects of poker (aka Hustle) is undervalued and influence to your Winrate more than good play. And that Winrate itself is a flawed (but important) concept due to sample-size. The point being not to take anything for granted.

    But to your point, if Money shouldn't be a factor in poker can you please come by and explain that to my landlord. It would help me out since he doesn't believe me.

    This all takes me back to something I used to think about often while playing. About the ancient days and the thoughts of the Hunters and Gathers. And how it applies to poker. Seriously, this was one of my first observation/theories.

    The majority people at a Casino are Gathers who are Hunting for sport and fun. They pretend to be Hunters, act and talk like how they think Hunters will act and talk. Some of them sharpen their skills and are excellent Hunters. But no matter what they do or say they will never truly understand the Hunter world.

    Hunting to the Hunter isn't a game but survival; they must kill to eat.

    Anyhow, perhaps I am being too dramatic but I really believe that until you sat at a poker table with the threat of homelessness facing you, then you will always have a different perspective.

    You will always be the Gather and not the Hunter. It will shape your views. But this is a good thing since Gathers live a better life on average.
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    Not at all pulling rank on you my friend just making a point that at some point the money matters.

    If you play 1/2 - 1/3 and have a job outside of poker, I think that's great & likely how the game becomes most enjoyable.

    The argument of if the game is about money being the case will always hold true.
    It is a lot less the case for you because you play the game recreationally and have other means of income and frankly you do not expect to make enough money at 1/2 or 1/3 to ever give up your day job.

    Now if we look at the game in a different scope of where a professional player is playing $5/10 with 40K to his or her bankroll - the game is very much about dollars.

    Moreover if this player now faces off versus someone who dwarfs his or her bankroll and simply out gambles them - the game becomes very difficult.

    For example losing 10 buyins for the 5/10 player is a very real thing.
    And if the player with the bigger roll just constantly places high enough pressure he/she will win.
    This is plain and simply called "Dollar Pressure".

    It comes down to "how much are you prepared to lose?" How much are you prepared to lose in any one given hand or any one given night?

    This happened before to Berkey in the big game where these hundred millionaires just can out gamble him in the big game playing $300/600/1200 NL.
    I'll try to get him in this thread to better explain.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    I am sorry for misrepresenting your argument. Maybe I represented your argument better as my argument in the original post. If so let me apologize again for plagiarizing.

    I have no idea what your landlord has to do with poker. Do you play poker with your landlord? I'm being facetious.

    Your landlord is an off the felt phenomena even if you play poker to pay her. Once you take poker money out of your poker bankroll it is no longer poker money. Money to your landlord is not about your game. It is about the rest of your life.

    I don't play poker for a living. But what if I did? My poker bankroll would still be that and only that. When I take money out of the poker bankroll to live it becomes a different kind of commodity. It is no longer "investment" in poker. But that is what I was saying in my last post.
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 4,006 ✭✭✭✭✭
    It shouldn't be that hard to understand that the the money matters more to some than others, that everyone has different motivations, and that stakes can be measured relative to your personal wealth.

    Doing this thing for a living or even important suplemental income gets you off your high horse and caring about the cash in a very up close and personal way.
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭✭
    This notion that there is a poker bankroll and a life bankroll is crap.

    Your quality of life will improve if your poker bankroll improves. Your quality of life will not improve if your poker bankroll doesn't improve.

    A life roll is there to keep you afloat for some time if you bust the roll. That is its only purpose. However, if someone busts their poker roll - they are done. Now they either need to get a job or find a backer and that life roll is just there to buy some time.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    b.

    Now if we look at the game in a different scope of where a professional player is playing $5/10 with 40K to his or her bankroll - the game is very much about dollars.

    Moreover if this player now faces off versus someone who dwarfs his or her bankroll and simply out gambles them - the game becomes very difficult.

    For example losing 10 buyins for the 5/10 player is a very real thing.
    And if the player with the bigger roll just constantly places high enough pressure he/she will win.
    This is plain and simply called "Dollar Pressure".

    It comes down to "how much are you prepared to lose?" How much are you prepared to lose in any one given hand or any one given night?

    I agree with you completely about the luxury of my situation.

    But the problem is that I don't think that the Dollar Pressure you are talking about is a "poker situation." It is, I think, a pre-poker situation, or a meta-poker situation that you want to try to put aside when you are actually playing the game.

    I know this is easier said than done.
  • ChibberChibber Red Chipper Posts: 373 ✭✭✭
    And no, the game is not really about the money, it is about having the mental, physical, emotional capacity to play your best when you choose to be at the table. [/quote]

    I have not read the thread referenced at the beginning of your post, and will make time to read it. Having said that, poker is about being smart and it is about money. In my humble opinion, you cannot play this game - poker - without having some aptitude and you definitely cannot play without money. The two go hand in hand.

    If smart is not part of the equation, then no one would hire coaches, go to boot camps, join training sites, or buy books. Why do people do these things? To get better at the game, whether it be for their profession or for their recreation. Money won or lost over time is how this game is measured. The more money you make the bigger your bankroll, the easier it is to make your monthly nut. Money matters, and being smart in how use your chips while playing the game matters.

    There was a reason Andy Beal wanted to play against the likes of Brunson, Harmon, Forrest etc at stakes they weren't comfortable with. Their was a reason why these pros teamed up against Beal.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    persuadeo wrote: »
    Doing this thing for a living or even important suplemental income gets you off your high horse and caring about the cash in a very up close and personal way.

    First, like me say Persuadeo, that I really love your blog posts.

    But gee, Persuadeo, I truly do not think I was on a high horse. Though maybe I'm acting as a robot.

    I don't know. Why did Mozart compose, or Bobby Fischer play chess, or Tiger Woods play golf. Why did Yeats write poetry? Why do I write poetry? Certainly not for the money. Does any professional poet do it for the money?

    But all poets would like to pay the landlord, and some are able to do it through poetry. But even if you write about paying the landlord in a poem, paying the landlord is not poetry, it is off-the-page experience that has nothing to do with your excellence as a poet. Am I "on my high horse" with regards to my attitude toward poetry when I write like this? I love poetry and I admire poets.

    Part of my point in the original post is about excellence in any endeavor. Musicians care about money so that they can play their music more. Some are motivated by fame and money. But the best care about the music first. Most chess players I know would like to have more money so that they could play more chess. But what they really want is to be the best at what they do. Why should the motivation in poker be different? Even if you are playing poker professionally why should it be different?

    But it is possible that you look at poker and poetry the way, say, a banker who hates his job looks at his job. It is just a way to make money. I've had jobs like that and all I wanted to do was to get out of them. But that again has nothing to do with poker or poetry but with life choice.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    Chibber wrote: »
    If smart is not part of the equation, then no one would hire coaches, go to boot camps, join training sites, or buy books. Why do people do these things? To get better at the game, whether it be for their profession or for their recreation. Money won or lost over time is how this game is measured. The more money you make the bigger your bankroll, the easier it is to make your monthly nut. Money matters, and being smart in how use your chips while playing the game matters.

    But please read what one of my wisest teachers said:
    The most important measurement that one can have in life is the measurement of one's own stupidity .


    That those who think they are smart, and often are very intelligent, are also unable to improve on their intelligence because they don't have the measure of their own stupidity and faults. (Actually, I think Angelo says similar things in his book "The Elements of Poker" which I read before I started playing poker.)

    Of course at the poker table what you want are poker players who think they are really good poker players and are not good at all. They make the most mistakes. But in all aspects of life this phenomena occurs again and again, the ones who think they are the smartest cause the most harm to themselves or others.

    Actually, I believe that in order to become good at any endeavor what you need to do first is unlearn all the stuff that make you bad at, and simply admit that you are a bit stupid. I know that I am not as good at this game as so many people I play with. I hope this self-knowledge will make me better. Not smarter, but better.


  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 4,006 ✭✭✭✭✭
    @imperator, first of all, thanks, and then, what i think is that your position is fine but it is too black and white. For instance, just because I care about the cash doesn't mean I hate my job, and further the high horse isn't yours personally, but the tired nag of bankrolls that gets trotted out every day. Soto is right: your life roll and your bankroll really bleed into each other, they are accounting niceties.

    Also, most bankers don't hate their jobs, and at the same time, running with your example, writers/poets have to make money even if they love what they do. Rimbaud became a slave trader when writing in colors didn't work out, and Balzac killed himself with coffee to stay up and write to pay for all his ridiculous luxuries. Yet no one can ever question their commitment and love of their art. Screenwriters may love their personal project but they turn out vats of pulp to pay for themselves, having to endure all sorts of ridiculous criticism while they hope to one day be vindicated through their masterpiece.

    In other words, our poker concerns and our life concerns meld into each other. That's why dollar pressure is real.

    To get us back on point, I came into the thread to affirm that Money Matters, and to appreciate JCW's point of view.
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    The problem we run into for you to understand my point is that you play in within your comfort zone. (Again I think that's great for enjoyable purposes).

    But it becomes an obstacle if you want to become the best or if you want to be in this game professionally for a long time. (Which I understand is not the case for you and that's perfectly fine).

    If we throw you in a $10/25 uncapped game and sit you with 8K of your own money it becomes different.
    (Assuming you are not rolled for this obviously given your job, if you are then we can just continue doubling the stakes it until losing a buy in hurts) - how robotic do you think you will perform?

    Do you still 4Bet AJo now? Do you call down for thousands of dollars with middle pair? Or do you just sit there and wait for the best spots?

    If you want to reach the top ranks of NL Cash, at some point you need to get in the ring and fight at stakes that are no longer comfortable.

    It's idealistic to think that the decisions shouldn't matter because of money amounts. And it's very easy to say that from the bottom stakes (no offense). But this just isn't true. At some point, you become out-moneyed or someone can out-gamble you. That can come at varying levels for different people,

    You can love the game more than the next guy. But if you want to be the best at your craft in poker, you have to try and reach the highest stakes and prove yourself. That's the ONLY way.

    Take me for example, It doesn't matter how many members join this site, or how many people watch my videos; for me to prove that I'm good and good enough to teach you all, I have to continue to play higher stakes than most of you and succeed. I love the game, but this is the only measuring stick.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    The problem we run into for you to understand my point is that you play in within your comfort zone. (Again I think that's great for enjoyable purposes).

    You can love the game more than the next guy. But if you want to be the best at your craft in poker, you have to try and reach the highest stakes and prove yourself. That's the ONLY way.

    What you talk about is where I have to play to know that I am best at poker. And what you say is true as far as I can tell.

    But think about this:

    If I want to be the best at chess I first have to be good enough to become a Grandmaster and get invited to good tournaments. The excellence comes first and the venues come later. The same is true of many sports and arts, etc. But the economics is not the same in all of those sports and arts.

    There is the economics of education (becoming better) and the economics of place, and the economics of entry to the correct venue.

    When you tell me about kind of games I have to play to prove my excellence you are talking about the cost of entry into the top venue -- time costs, monetary costs, psychological costs. All those things we try to forget when we are actually looking at our cards. All those things that we hope our opponents don't forget when they are looking at their cards.

    When I was young (age 12, just before the Fischer Boom) I thought that I could become a Grandmaster and top chess player. I was good for my age. But In those days there were very few places in the world where you could live and become a good chess player. In other words the economics of education, of place and of entry were all related. If you didn't live in New York City in pre-1970 you could not get a chess education, could not find chess literature, and could not enter into many chess tournaments. Now days you can live anywhere and get all the information you need through the internet. (I don't have to tell you that internet and television , the equivalent of the "Fischer Boom" in chess, changed poker also.)

    No matter I fell in love with physics and philosophy instead and kept chess as my hobby.

    But suppose I lived in NYC. And I became a master and international master. I would still have to be invited to the best tournaments to become a Grandmaster and to move up in that way.

    But all of these preconditions are about education, entry, venue, etc. Every chess player knows that these preconditions are the variance of chess. In fact they are the variance of life in general.

    I don't see how what you are talking about is different. Why is it different for poker than for chess? Why is it different for poker than for bridge?

    I think I have part of the answer: The poker culture is different. The poker culture is about money not the game. In part it is a hustler culture. I do not say this as an insult because that is one of the reasons I like poker culture. It is my family roots. In my grandparents generation my family owned illegal casinos, ran numbers, made book, and all that kind of thing. That is how they made enough money to put my parents generation through college.

    Poker culture influences our attitudes to the game.

    But I can't see any way around the general point, that attitudes to money have hindered excellence in poker as well as provided the main motivation for playing poker. Just like attitudes to money and fame often hinder a boxer in achieving excellence while motivating him to become a better boxer.

    A thought experiment and some questions:

    Bill Gates will never become a great bridge player but he wants to be. Why?

    If I had the money that Bill Gates has you could never price me out of any game. but I would still want to become an excellent poker player. Why?

    What if our imaginary Bill Gates chose poker instead of bridge? How would you coach him? Do you think that for imaginary Bill Gates to achieve excellence in poker he should start at $10/$25? Note: the money won't matter much to him. As far his opportunity costs are concerned it would not even be worth it to him to wait in line to cash in his chips.

    My answer is that he that he should do what I'm doing. Start at home games and work his way up. Read and study. He wouldn't be as much of a NIT as I am, though, and he would higher a poker coach.

    But let us say our imaginary Bill Gates finally makes his way up to the games you say are the best venues for proving your excellence. What does the money matter as far as his poker play is concerned? Don't you think that his mental attitude would be primary? Maybe he would play worse poker because he could just throw the money away. Maybe his poker would be better because he is less risk adverse in the game.

    Another question: Why is it in the general public's imagination that it is so unlikely to imagine that someone like Bill Gates would want to become excellent at poker but not at bridge? The answer is the difference between poker culture and bridge culture. The answer is that you are not supposed to play poker for the excellence of the game, but rather for the money. The answer is a matter of "class." Poker players are working folks hoping to find a way to supplement or make an income. Bridge players are "aristocrats" or at least upper middle class. The thing is I think all of these attitudes underlie the things we are thinking through in these posts.

    Don't mistake me: I am on the side of the working folks not the aristocrats.

    I am arguing for something different. I want a poker culture of excellence. I think that is what people like SplitSuit, Doug Hull, Ed Miller, and all of you at this Red Chip Poker are helping to create in your own way.

    Oh, I know, I am weird for a poker player. When I came to NYC in my early 20s with nothing in my pockets I lived in a place where "voluntary poverty" was the rule. So I know that if I was in the $10/$25 game you were talking about it would not be poverty I would fear. And that is a topic we haven't talked about fear. I think that lurking behind all talk about money is the very understandable fear of losing it all.

    When you tell me about the $10/$25 game that I am sure I will never play in you are telling me about the Interzonal chess tournament I will never get an invitation to play in. I simply do not have the skill to get to those places. But in both cases it is about the "cost of entry." If once you are there you are concerned with becoming a famous chess player or making money over playing the game then you are going to play badly. Chess or poker, it doesn't matter. Inevitably those concerns come in because we are humans and not robots. Inevitably the concerns that hinder us also motivate us, spur us on. But that doesn't mean that such concerns don't (practically always) lead to tilt.

    Christian you tell me your very legitimate concerns about what you have to do to hustle a living. I understand those concerns. They are important and interesting. Not only do I understand those concerns but I have an in-born empathy for them. They are part of my own education. They are also part of my own life as a technical writer who always has to find work. But my ability to make money and my ability to occasionally write a readable sentence are not the same skill. And more often than not they work against each other.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    persuadeo wrote: »
    For instance, just because I care about the cash doesn't mean I hate my job, ..... Soto is right: your life roll and your bankroll really bleed into each other, they are accounting niceties.

    Also, most bankers don't hate their jobs, and at the same time, running with your example, writers/poets have to make money even if they love what they do. Rimbaud became a slave trader when writing in colors didn't work out, and Balzac killed himself with coffee to stay up and write to pay for all his ridiculous luxuries. Yet no one can ever question their commitment and love of their art. Screenwriters may love their personal project but they turn out vats of pulp to pay for themselves, having to endure all sorts of ridiculous criticism while they hope to one day be vindicated through their masterpiece.

    In other words, our poker concerns and our life concerns meld into each other. That's why dollar pressure is real.

    The money plays a roll in motivation and circumstances but not a roll in creating the excellence of the craft itself.

    I think Balzac and Rimbaud are bad examples for you. Balzac is one of my favorite writers but what he was addicted to most was writing itself. He couldn't stop. It was a kind of mania. To get away from that mania he created a life of luxury, as a kind after thought justification for his mania of writing all the time non-stop.

    Rimbaud's abnegation of poetry to go off to run guns and deal in slaves in Abyssinia was a great loss for poetry.

    I didn't say all bankers hate what they do. I have known quite a few and have taught a few. The bankers I was thinking of were in one of my classes and became friends. They hated what they do for moral reasons. They saw the harm that they are creating in the world and it bothered them. (My politics is coming out here. Please give me a pass.)

    I was making a point about life choice not about any particular profession.

    A lot of my friends from college were lucky enough to become writers in Hollywood. Most of them take a very "skills oriented" attitude to the work they do. They are craftsmen first and foremost. Most I know are not tortured artists selling their souls to Hollywood so that they can write the Great American Novel. I am not saying that you are saying that they are that way. I am only pointing out that many of them (the ones I know write comedy for television) take the excellence of their craft seriously and then bargain their way through the rest. This is a little of what you are saying but from a different point-of-view.

    I am sure that Shakespeare did the same. There is no indication that he looked at his work the way we do. But craft is like that sometimes. A carpenter of good chairs has her own excellence that becomes art.

    But again the larger point is that even taking poker, first and foremost, as a craft would produce a different attitude towards excellence and a different attitude toward the money in the game.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    Fear. Let me say that seems to me to be the important topic we haven't discussed. Fear of poverty. Fear of losing your stake. Fear of being priced out of the game at what ever level you play in. Fear is something we need to own. But it does not motivate good poker. It is there though.
  • Matt BerkeyMatt Berkey Red Chipper, RCP Coach Posts: 278 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    I can't believe I've been debating this for hours with Christian, when it's so blatantly clear to me that Imperator absolutely nails it. I'll eventually elaborate, possible write a blog on the matter, but I'd suggest rereading everything he has said and to analyze first with the bias that he's correct rather than immediately imploring the contrary that has been ingrained in most of us. Think differently.
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 4,006 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    Ok, fair enough, I'll give you a draw on the examples, and they are getting off point anyway in a poker forum.

    You're romanticizing one aspect of poker (pure skill and game theory) and missing the fact that money is how we keep score. It is the blood and guts of the game: consequences. It is intrinsic. The higher the skill game, the bigger the consequences.

    I agree that talking about hustle and fear is helpful, and encourage you to do so, but there is no way of completely theorizing your way out of moving your way up and improving in the trenches where the consequences are high.

    And you're talking to someone who has put in that 4th bet with Ajo in the biggest game he can play in with all the rent money on the line. Mastering fear isn't enough.
  • kageykagey Red Chipper, KINGOFTAGS Posts: 2,241 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Imperator wrote: »
    The problem we run into for you to understand my point is that you play in within your comfort zone. (Again I think that's great for enjoyable purposes).

    You can love the game more than the next guy. But if you want to be the best at your craft in poker, you have to try and reach the highest stakes and prove yourself. That's the ONLY way.

    What you talk about is where I have to play to know that I am best at poker. And what you say is true as far as I can tell.

    But think about this:

    If I want to be the best at chess I first have to be good enough to become a Grandmaster and get invited to good tournaments. The excellence comes first and the venues come later. The same is true of many sports and arts, etc. But the economics is not the same in all of those sports and arts.

    (emphasis mine)
    Here's where your argument falls apart. But it's understandable because you don't know what you don't know...

    Consider this:
    there are tons of "excellent" tennis and golf players - who constantly win their clubs' championships. But when the go to the U.S. Open... they choke. Same holds true for a lot of sports athletes...

    playing 1/2 or 1/3 is absolutely NOTHING like playing 50/100 or even big stack 2/5.
    there are leveling wars. there are moves being made. bluffs and semi-bluffs.
    and every wrong decision is expensive. if you think you don't mind losing the chips, you will mind being "outplayed" and losing. Each stakes plays differently.

    Remember back when Andy Beal challenged the best of the best to play heads up?
    He made the stakes so high that being wrong was detrimental to the player's life.
    "Correct" decisions had to be merged with the consequences of being wrong.

    Chess is 100% different game than poker, golf or tennis. It's a game of complete information where the game you play in your living room is nearly identical to the one you play in a tournament (minus the clock). There are no strategies that a grandmaster can use that you shouldn't be able to see if you're truly a great player.

    To think that mastering 1/2 or 1/3 would make you a winning player at 25/50 is what keeps the high stakes pros swimming in profits. Each stakes features a new set of problems and playing styles you have to adapt to. That explains why the "best of the best" can't consistently make the final table of the WSOP main event. There are just too many playing styles and landmines that confuse the pros or become their Achilles heel.

    Money/ chips is more than just a way to keep score. It's what makes real poker to difficult to master.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    I can't believe I've been debating this for hours with Christian, when it's so blatantly clear to me that Imperator absolutely nails it. I'll eventually elaborate, possible write a blog on the matter, but I'd suggest rereading everything he has said and to analyze first with the bias that he's correct rather than immediately imploring the contrary that has been ingrained in most of us. Think differently.

    Thank you very much!
  • Matt BerkeyMatt Berkey Red Chipper, RCP Coach Posts: 278 ✭✭✭
    kagey wrote: »
    Consider this:
    there are tons of "excellent" tennis and golf players - who constantly win their clubs' championships. But when the go to the U.S. Open... they choke. Same holds true for a lot of sports athletes...

    playing 1/2 or 1/3 is absolutely NOTHING like playing 50/100 or even big stack 2/5.
    there are leveling wars. there are moves being made. bluffs and semi-bluffs.
    and every wrong decision is expensive. if you think you don't mind losing the chips, you will mind being "outplayed" and losing. Each stakes plays differently.

    Remember back when Andy Beal challenged the best of the best to play heads up?
    He made the stakes so high that being wrong was detrimental to the player's life.
    "Correct" decisions had to be merged with the consequences of being wrong.
    Those pros pulled their money and curbed the risk. The money mattered, but never to a degree where decisions on the felt were compromised, thus rendering Andy Biel dead an outlier in positive variance.
    kagey wrote: »
    To think that mastering 1/2 or 1/3 would make you a winning player at 25/50 is what keeps the high stakes pros swimming in profits. Each stakes features a new set of problems and playing styles you have to adapt to. That explains why the "best of the best" can't consistently make the final table of the WSOP main event. There are just too many playing styles and landmines that confuse the pros or become their Achilles heel.

    Money/ chips is more than just a way to keep score. It's what makes real poker to difficult to master.
    I don't think OP ever professed any of these notions. If anything I gathered quite the contrary where he recognizes the difference skill and theoretical work can make. However, each of you have implied that OP would fail at higher stakes due to money factor. Skill extrapolates out, if he or anyone else is talented/calculated enough to beat the highest stakes then the monetary implications, both positive and negative, simply correlate to by products of decisions + variance. How often does a winning online reg consider money when making an in game decision? Once every 1k hands? 10k? 100k? It probably depends on their level of strategy but my assumption is next to never.

    I'm not certain why everyone wants so desperately for money to be a heavy weight around all of our necks. It's very liberating to take off those restraints an examine the game from a pov of being limitless, rather than solvable/solved.
  • MarshallMarshall Red Chipper Posts: 24
    edited April 2016
    I love this thread and I'd like to share some of my own thoughts and perspective in support of Imperator. I want to preface my own statement with that I am a Low Stakes player who loves the game and is trying to learn and improve the best I can, but I do have a strong background in writing and philosophy so I think I understand where Imperator is coming from.

    I think that there may be some confusion over what's being argued. (or maybe I'm just confused...) It seems to me that Imperator is talking about the Platonic philosophical ideal of playing poker as a game/sport of skill more than as a game to win money and make a living. Winning money and making a living are awesome pluses to playing poker, but if you want to be the best poker player possible then your thought process on the felt should be more about strategy and playing the best for whatever situation you're in (stakes, table dynamics, stack sizes, exploiting villains, etc.). The money factors, as Imperator points out multiple times, are incredibly important motivators to get people to play, study, improve and flat out care (just think of "play money" games), but Hero's monetary concerns does not effect the ideal poker play; "ideal poker play" being play that consists of the correct decisions/strategy in every spot given the infinite factors going into every hand, something most likely impossible to realize but a goalpost to strive for. What I understand Imperator to be arguing for is the position of treating poker as a skill/craft/art that is valuable in and of itself, a pursuit of excellence apart from money and fear and rent and all the things that make up the day-to-day fabric of our ordinary lives. However, whether or not you can reasonably expect people to adopt such a view of poker is another story.

    People care a lot about money, I know I do. I want to play poker to make money. I hope to make money when I go play and I hope to keep making money, but I also am growing to love the game in and for itself, and, in the process, find myself tilting a lot less and thinking bad beats are more fascinating examples of chance, reminders of what is out of control, than something to get upset about. For example, recently I went to play and lost my BI on the first hand I played. I rivered a Straight to a guy's Full House and should have been able to get away earlier and even on the river. However, after the play I just felt so embarrassed and like a fish, I didn't care as much about the money lost but was so upset with myself because I knew I had it in me during that spot to make better decisions and not lose it. That feeling of embarrassment made me focus on making the best plays I could for the rest of the night helping me work my way up to a nice profitable session. By the end of the night though, I realized I cared a ton about not losing the stack I had built, more so than making good decisions. I started playing with scared money. After a few bad decisions because of that fear, I got up and left, realizing I was unable to play good poker at that time.

    I think it would take a special person to be able to play nose bleed high stakes poker (whatever that is for whoever is playing) and not care about the money won or lost. Either a genius who really loves the art of poker or a man with way too much money are the only people I think you could reasonably expect to treat the highest stakes as just a game of skill and passion. I think the ideal poker player would play the highest stakes and care more about good decisions than their money, however, ideals don't usually exist in reality. Ideals exist mostly as goals to strive for and try to possess, but not something we can reasonably expect from ourselves at all times, though hopefully we can get as close to the ideal as possible most of the time. I think Imperator's got a great point that if we could cultivate that sense of "poker as art" more than "poker as money" we'd probably all be better players and probably find the game more fulfilling and enjoyable.
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭✭
    I have been debating this with Berkey for hours on end.

    My argument is as follows:
    I think money affects decisions on the table.
    I argue that if we play $10/25 NL with $15,000 to our name we will play differently than if we had $250,000 to our name.

    I can agree that strategic changes will be made off the table prior to us sitting down. Possibly we will create a "shot taking strategy". However, this shot taking strategy at its core is centered around the lack of funds in our bankroll. Therefore, our decisions are based, even in a small sense, in accordance our funds.

    Furthermore, let us assume that there is a most optimal strategy to this bigger game in question (whether it be $10/25 or bigger). Let's call it Strategy A. However, Strategy A has a high risk of ruin given our bankroll. There is also Strategy B, which is still +EV but contains less variance. With Strategy B we will leave some money on the table at times but our risk our ruin is much less, and on average we will be stay in the game much longer.

    Which option would be correct? I think most people choose Strategy B given that being in the game has value and can be life changing.
    Again, these are strategic decisions correlated directly the amount of money we have.

    If we can accept that there is a more optimal strategy for beating the game and we choose to pass on it because of risk of ruin, then it is clear that decisions are being made because of money.

    I can agree that the best players may not make decisions based on money. However, the truth is that money affects most players. It is very advantageous to know when someone is on a short bankroll because it is unlikely they will make big call downs and we can run big bluffs on them.
  • Matt BerkeyMatt Berkey Red Chipper, RCP Coach Posts: 278 ✭✭✭
    I think that there may be some confusion over what's being argued. (or maybe I'm just confused...) It seems to me that Imperator is talking about the Platonic philosophical ideal of playing poker as a game/sport of skill more than as a game to win money and make a living. Winning money and making a living are awesome pluses to playing poker, but if you want to be the best poker player possible then your thought process on the felt should be more about strategy and playing the best for whatever situation you're in (stakes, table dynamics, stack sizes, exploiting villains, etc.). The money factors, as Imperator points out multiple times, are incredibly important motivators to get people to play, study, improve and flat out care (just think of "play money" games), but Hero's monetary concerns does not effect the ideal poker play; "ideal poker play" being play that consists of the correct decisions/strategy in every spot given the infinite factors going into every hand, something most likely impossible to realize but a goalpost to strive for. What I understand Imperator to be arguing for is the position of treating poker as a skill/craft/art that is valuable in and of itself, a pursuit of excellence apart from money and fear and rent and all the things that make up the day-to-day fabric of our ordinary lives. However, whether or not you can reasonably expect people to adopt such a view of poker is another story.

    **This, 1000 times This**
    I think it would take a special person to be able to play nose bleed high stakes poker (whatever that is for whoever is playing) and not care about the money won or lost. Either a genius who really loves the art of poker or a man with way too much money are the only people I think you could reasonably expect to treat the highest stakes as just a game of skill and passion.

    These are emphatically the only two types to survive. its why poker as a whole continues to thrive; very few of the latter and even fewer of the former. Everyone else filling in the gaps are just allocating their spot in the food chain until they eventually become the eaten.
  • Matt BerkeyMatt Berkey Red Chipper, RCP Coach Posts: 278 ✭✭✭
    My argument is as follows:
    I think money affects decisions on the table.
    I argue that if we play $10/25 NL with $15,000 to our name we will play differently than if we had $250,000 to our name.

    I can agree that strategic changes will be made off the table prior to us sitting down. Possibly we will create a "shot taking strategy". However, this shot taking strategy at its core is centered around the lack of funds in our bankroll. Therefore, our decisions are based, even in a small sense, in accordance our funds.

    Adjustments are all encompassing in this game, not just a product of monetary pressure, and just further speaks to what Imperator is saying with all that truly matters is deductive reasoning, accounting for these factors.
    Furthermore, let us assume that there is a most optimal strategy to this bigger game in question (whether it be $10/25 or bigger). Let's call it Strategy A. However, Strategy A has a high risk of ruin given our bankroll. There is also Strategy B, which is still +EV but contains less variance. With Strategy B we will leave some money on the table at times but our risk our ruin is much less, and on average we will be stay in the game much longer.

    Which option would be correct? I think most people choose Strategy B given that being in the game has value and can be life changing.
    Again, these are strategic decisions correlated directly the amount of money we have.

    If we can accept that there is a more optimal strategy for beating the game and we choose to pass on it because of risk of ruin, then it is clear that decisions are being made because of money.

    I can agree that the best players may not make decisions based on money. However, the truth is that money affects most players. It is very advantageous to know when someone is on a short bankroll because it is unlikely they will make big call downs and we can run big bluffs on them.

    By definition if strategy b lessens risk while still yielding high return, either monetarily or through extending opportunity to play, it is the more optimal choice. I think the point you're actually making is that when a person who is well rolled passes on strat A for B simply bc they can't stomach the swings then money has been an overwhelming factor. Where that may be true, I would argue that player is or will ultimately be a losing player bc he prioritized money ahead of deductive reasoning.
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭✭
    I'll put it like this:

    It doesn't matter how good you are. You still need money. What does it matter if you are the best but broke. Who wants to be in Durrr's shoes right now? Possibly broke and owing millions to scary people.

    There are people like Andrew Robl, who may not be the best in the world, but accumulated in good spots and now plays the biggest game in the world with Berkey in games which possibly may be softer than a 10/25 game.

    Can he beat, 10/25NL? Maybe not, but he doesn't have to.

    Who cares if someone is philosophically viewing the game as a sport and plays ideally or if he is the best or not.

    A lot of this game is about finding good spots and capitalizing. It's not always about what the food chain looks like.

    You don't have to be the best NL player. You can strive to be that, but in the meanwhile we should be looking for spots.
    Spots to make big money.

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