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

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  • Matt BerkeyMatt Berkey Red Chipper, RCP Coach Posts: 278 ✭✭✭
    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.

    You'll see.
  • 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.

    You'll see.

    Just died laughing.
  • Matt BerkeyMatt Berkey Red Chipper, RCP Coach Posts: 278 ✭✭✭
    You've only seen the game post online boom. You think you're the exception who can walk amongst giants because you walk softly. You think it's as simple as capitalizing on obv high EV, high value situations. You're from a world where game selection is available and jockeying for seat position is an acceptable act. Where watching videos and doing hh reviews will spell out all the answers you've ever searched for. Where it's easier to default to what con census majority deems correct.

    You're ignoring absolutely the pace at which online has evolved. At how game selectors have all but died off. At how jockeying for position is unavilable and how after 5 years post Black Friday only a small fraction of previously wildly successful regs are still profitable.

    Who cares if someone is approaching the game with an ideology when you view this game as a means to an end? You'll care. You'll care when the hunter becomes the hunted. You'll care when you're forced to adhere to this ideology long after the trend already readjusted. You'll care when having to decide if you can make it long term in this dog eat dog world where frankly sub 10% will flourish enough to make a long term living. You'll care when you speak back on your younger years as a poker pro the way us athletes like to talk about the glory days, "I was good too..."
    You'll see the forecast change and you'll wish you had considered that it may just rain.
  • Matt BerkeyMatt Berkey Red Chipper, RCP Coach Posts: 278 ✭✭✭
    Imperator wrote: »
    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.

    man you and I think a lot alike... http://forum.redchippoker.com/discussion/3424/the-mindset-advantage-podcast-w-tricia-and-elliot#latest
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    man you and I think a lot alike...

    Matt, I'm new here. I thought my original post would be ignored as too abstract. I didn't expect to cause a little controversy with the post. I really appreciate your support.

    My perspective on poker excellence and studying poker simply comes from my education in science and philosophy, my professional background, and from seeing how the really great chess players improve their game.

    For various reasons my perspective on fear (and money) starts from a different place than most poker players.

    If possible I would prefer to write to you personally, off-thread, about this last topic because I don't think my personal history should be used as a trump card in my argument.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    man you and I think a lot alike...

    Matt,

    A few more comments:

    I already subscribe to the Mindset Advantage podcast but have not listened to all the shows yet. I will listen to the one you are on when I go to the gym today.

    I want to emphasize something: I am a recreational player. I have been playing about 12 to 18 hours a week and studying about 24 hours a week. I can put in this time because I am a writer and structure my own days. I have had at least 24 hours of study time a week of something all of my life. since age 12. (Physics, chess, the history of science, math.) Now I am studying poker and intend to keep at it until I can be a regular at any $5-$10 game in the country. I don't know many years that will take.

    Physical Training
    I look at poker as a special kind of sport. It is a step "down" from a blood sport like boxing and a step over from a pure mental sport like chess. I would go to the gym 5 times a week for my own health, but now I look at it as just another part of my poker training. Cardiovascular and weight workouts are not "study" time but they do produce the ability to focus at the table and promote physical and mental resilience.

    Choosing to Play
    When I choose to play a game or a sport I want to win. I want to be on my A-game all the time and I want to build my A-game. That is the way I have thought through-out my life. The money is a great benefit to poker, but even if I were a professional, my main motivation would be to win, and to win at every table where I choose to sit down. Take that as a character note.

    Winning does mean taking other people's chips. It means exploiting weakness and avoiding strength. It means busting people if that is where they are. It means taking their rent money if that is what they are using to bet the probabilities.

    These are not things I would do in my everyday life. I do not cross union picket lines. I do not cut corners. I pay my taxes in full. If I have the money, and if I have not already given it away to my family, and you are a friend I trust I will pay your rent. I have done it before. I will do it again. (Note: Off-thread I will tell you more about my life-attitude toward money.)

    The Attractions and Dangers of Crushing the Game
    My sport in college was boxing. I was lousy at it. But I loved hitting other young men in the ring. I also liked being hit now and then. The few times I actually knocked a guy down for a small count, I felt a surge of triumph that has lasted my life. He chose to be in that ring and I hurt him. I too could have been hurt. I won, he didn't. This is a non-boxing emotion but it was a motivating factor for winning.

    In chess I have seen men and women psychologically collapse when losing a game. Over-the-board I loved to see the dawning realization that my sacrifice of a bishop or a knight will inevitably lead to loss. This is a non-chess emotion but it is a motivating factor for the way I played chess.

    In any sport these off-game motivating factors have their dangers. Fighting or playing for revenge is a kind of tilt that "victory lovers" often fall into. (I'm a "victory lover".) "I will show you who is the better player," often goes through my mind after I have lost. "Victory lovers" and "triumph junkies" often personalize their scores and work up hate for their opponents. This interferes with the game. But these personality traits that interfere with your game while playing can become useful motivating factors when not-playing.

    You have to compartmentalize. The motivating factors off-game can not be the same motivating factors in-game. In-game you have to keep to the positive motivating factors, the kind that keep you balanced and that keep the blood circulating in its regular path. I learned this in boxing, in chess, when I used to play stud in college to pay the rent, and in other life experiences.

    In short the way I act in competition is not the way I act in my everyday life.

    I look at poker in the same way I looked at boxing. These men and women choose to be at this table. If they gamble with their rent money I don't care. That is not my concern. I am there to win. I am there to take all their chips. I am there to gather as much of these fictional representations of that fictional commodity we call money as I can.

    Finally, let me say, I write these notes very quickly. A few minutes on each one. They must have many typos, etc. I don't have time to reread them most of the time. As a matter of pride I want to say that I don't write as well here as I do in my professional life.

    Pride. Not necessarily a good thing over the felt.
  • Ruxton_AtheistRuxton_Atheist Red Chipper Posts: 152 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    "The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." - Meditations, Aurelius

    It is not lost on the OP that this a Forum. A genuine debate!
  • Ruxton_AtheistRuxton_Atheist Red Chipper Posts: 152 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    Imperator wrote: »
    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.



    In physics, a knotty problem can often be more easily solved using extremes. The poker "fear" problem can be considered similarly: imagine 9 players at a NL table with infinite bankrolls. What does this game look like? What are its characteristics? Conversely, imagine a game where each player has his life roll on the table. How will this game differ? What are its defining characteristics?

    In a recent session, I bluff-raised the turn all-in and my opponent folded top two face up. My bluff was correct, but his hand was not in my bluff target range: that hand should have called, and I should have lost the hand and the buy-in. But he didn't, and I didn't, because of fear. He tanked for a good two minutes, not I think because he was unsure of the correct play, but because he was balancing his knowledge of the correct play vs his fear of losing what the chips represented to him: freedom, purchase power, rent, food, kids clothes, whatever (Tommy Angelo has a succinct chapter on this subject in Elements of Poker relating life and death with poker stakes).

    The process of transcending this fear, in my opinion, is our battle with tilt. In all of its insidious forms.

  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    Excellence at anything:

    I just listened to a man who is a beer vendor for the Baltimore Orioles talk about his life:

    He said:
    "The way that I look at my job as a vendor, my mindset is I'm a professional athlete. I have to stay in shape, I have to train during the offseason," Haskett says. "Because vendors running around with straps around their neck? That's only on television commercials. Good vendors pick up their case and they carry it."

    "I used to move quicker than a lot of the other vendors, because I was a sprinter in college," he says. "And another thing: You know I had the gift of gab. And I used to do rhymes so that helped me out."

    Listen here

    He has been the top beer vendor at the park for years. He supports two kids with his job. He loves his job.

    If, as a poker player, I don't treat my game, my chosen sport, the way this beer vendor treats his job it is not worth it to me to be at the table. I would rather reread one of my physics book.

    If I chose to play baseball, a game I played on an industrial league team when I worked in a steel mill in Chicago, I would not be in the major leagues. Right now I would just be some old guy trying to see the ball and playing the game with other old guys. I would be lousy at the game. But I would approach it with an attitude that this beer vendor has. If that was my chosen game that is how I would play.

    Even at age 20 I was a lousy second baseman. But all I can say is that I tried to be as good when I worked second base as I was when I studied physics in college. I wanted 100% on every test and I wanted no errors and at least one hit per game when I played second base.

    If I stay at $1/$2 the rest of my life I am still going to take that attitude to the table.
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper Posts: 4,308 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Well, pretty impressive entrance into the forum. You'll be playing $5/10 before you know it.
  • SullySully Red Chipper Posts: 780 ✭✭✭
    The player who doesn't care about the money is almost always the most dangerous player at the table
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭✭
    sullyooo wrote: »
    The player who doesn't care about the money is almost always the most dangerous player at the table

    Of course. The question is if there is a threshold to that etc
  • SullySully Red Chipper Posts: 780 ✭✭✭
    Of course. This has become a major focus in my game the last 3 months

    IMO, in poker we all rise to the level our fear allows. Fear can be managed, changed, even eradicated. Knowledge about the game and confidence in that knowledge are important tools for fear management/suppression. Learning the why is important because it causes knowledge to be felt more deeply, and confidence in this knowledge to be higher.

    Lack of fear also makes a player more adaptive and willing to take the road less traveled if deemed necessary

    I'm a long time sci-fi reader and have always loved this passage from the book Dune ;

    I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

    Frank Herbert


    just a weird thought :)
  • bill_sabrebill_sabre Red Chipper Posts: 9 ✭✭
    If you need an example of how money matters, consider the story of Andy Beal and the "Coroporation" which is well documented in the book The Professor, The Banker, and the Suicide King, which I highly recommend. It describes how Beal's billions of dollars offset the pros edge. To counteract that, the pros pooled their money and played Beal heads-up, one at a time.

    Even the best in the world have a limit, a threshold where the money matters.
  • blasterblaster Red Chipper Posts: 91 ✭✭
    Interesting thread. I believe I can make a comment on dealing with fear as it applies to the game that some of you may find worthwhile. Before I was a poker player I was a soldier. An Army officer. I've been a few other things since but I still think of myself as a soldier. I understand fear of failure better than most, I've seen it become debilitating at the most critical of times. Soldiers overcome the fear of failure through training and discipline. The better the man is trained, the more disciplined he is, the more experience he gains, the less likely he is to succumb to his fear. Same for poker. Train hard, be disciplined, have a plan, gain experience and the fear you are talking about ( failure) may still be there but will be understood and accepted as nothing more than a matter of course, a part of your daily routine, a simple fact of life. The Army taught me this and it has served me well on the felt.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    blaster wrote: »
    I understand fear of failure better than most, I've seen it become debilitating at the most critical of times. Soldiers overcome the fear of failure through training and discipline. The better the man is trained, the more disciplined he is, the more experience he gains, the less likely he is to succumb to his fear. Same for poker. Train hard, be disciplined, have a plan, gain experience and the fear you are talking about ( failure) may still be there but will be understood and accepted as nothing more than a matter of course, a part of your daily routine, a simple fact of life.

    I would tell you about my experiences off thread, by email, but prefer not to talk about them in this context.

    Your point is well taken and well made.

  • ZacShawZacShaw Red Chipper Posts: 165 ✭✭✭
    Loving this thread.

    Gets me thinking about the entrepreneurial mindset as applied to poker. Very similar pursuits. If you don't find yourself occasionally in out of the depth of your bankroll as a business, you're probably not challenging yourself to grow enough. The same can certainly be said of poker.

    To what extent your decisions are guided by your fear of losing money, that should all be worked out off-table, or in the case of a business, in planning & strategy sessions. When it's time to execute, no one is immune from fear of losing money, but one of the skills you need to bring to bear is that this fear should not affect your execution.

    At the same time, if your risks aren't calculated based on what your skills can bring to bear, they are not risks, they are gambles.
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭✭
    ZacShaw wrote: »
    Loving this thread.

    Gets me thinking about the entrepreneurial mindset as applied to poker. Very similar pursuits. If you don't find yourself occasionally in out of the depth of your bankroll as a business, you're probably not challenging yourself to grow enough. The same can certainly be said of poker.

    To what extent your decisions are guided by your fear of losing money, that should all be worked out off-table, or in the case of a business, in planning & strategy sessions. When it's time to execute, no one is immune from fear of losing money, but one of the skills you need to bring to bear is that this fear should not affect your execution.

    At the same time, if your risks aren't calculated based on what your skills can bring to bear, they are not risks, they are gambles.

    Super strong.
  • Matt BerkeyMatt Berkey Red Chipper, RCP Coach Posts: 278 ✭✭✭
    It's presumptuous to assume no one immune from the fear of losing money. The majority of the retorts I've seen in this thread are based on anecdotal evidence and personal experience. Most people learn under these biased conditions, but often w/them come logical fallacies and limited scope of knowledge... Our emotions evolve and what elicits them can be programmed. There certainly are people immune from the fear of losing money, just as there are people immune from the fear of dogs, or heights, or of being emotionally hurt by a loved one. It's learned behavior, money was meaningless to you until society assigned a value to it. Overcoming that impression is an invaluable tool.
  • Matt BerkeyMatt Berkey Red Chipper, RCP Coach Posts: 278 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    bill_sabre wrote: »
    If you need an example of how money matters, consider the story of Andy Beal and the "Coroporation" which is well documented in the book The Professor, The Banker, and the Suicide King, which I highly recommend. It describes how Beal's billions of dollars offset the pros edge. To counteract that, the pros pooled their money and played Beal heads-up, one at a time.

    Even the best in the world have a limit, a threshold where the money matters.

    Read it more closely. The pros all pooled their money together mitigating the risk and leaving Beal dead to an outlier of positive variance. None of them feared the risk beyond the brief consideration of what if we all go broke, to which they shrugged and moved forward. At no point were their decisions compromised by the stakes at risk, at least not by the two top pros leading the charge Ivey and Todd Brunson. I can say this with confidence as I've spoken to Todd at great length about the matches.
  • ZacShawZacShaw Red Chipper Posts: 165 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    And yet, for every poker player who built a fat bankroll by being immune to the fear of losing money, there are hundreds of poker players who went broke from the same immunity.

    As has been pointed out here, bankroll management and the courage/skills to take risks for opportunities to reap big rewards are what distinguishes the top of the poker food chain from the bottom.

    But wouldn't you agree, lack of fear of losing money in poker is commonplace and actually built into the game?

    The chips already provide a ton of value abstraction. It's like a magic trick. The very real $100 bill turns into a fantastic stack of plastic, and we are instantly separated from a big part of the fear of losing money. In this way, poker by design makes us fear losing money less.

    The casino or poker room certainly does everything in its power to make us fear losing money less, plying us with drinks, comps and such.

    Is it really that much of a stretch to say you are not playing A game poker if you are letting the fear of losing money affect your decision-making at all?

    I would go so far as to say you're not even playing poker if you're fearing losing money. You're not having fun or making money. And if you're not doing either, why are you at the table?

    I don't know too many regular players who fear losing money much, if at all, when they're in the game. You either go broke from foolish fearlessness or learn to embrace the plastic fantasyland.

    I also don't know anyone who loves losing money in any amount, at poker or in life. But the best of the best, as Matt said, shrug their shoulders and move on to the next hand.
  • Matt BerkeyMatt Berkey Red Chipper, RCP Coach Posts: 278 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    ZacShaw wrote: »
    And yet, for every poker player who built a fat bankroll by being immune to the fear of losing money, there are hundreds of poker players who went broke from the same immunity.

    As has been pointed out here, bankroll management and the courage/skills to take risks for opportunities to reap big rewards are what distinguishes the top of the poker food chain from the bottom.

    But wouldn't you agree, lack of fear of losing money in poker is commonplace and actually built into the game?

    I actually unequivocally disagree, and have on multiple occasions said so, most recently here: http://forum.redchippoker.com/discussion/3424/the-mindset-advantage-podcast-w-tricia-and-elliot#latest

    Sure there is a certain disconnect that allows people to grow comfortable gambling within their preconceived constraints, or threshold of pain. Push the vast majority out of that comfort zone and the money becomes very real. But again we're talking fear and risk aversion, the money itself is just what allows the fear to metastasize.

    I don't deny the need for BR management and good business sense. However, I think the vast majority of what is professed and printed to be relative nonsense. About as applicable as investment advice from your parents or high school sociology professor. Very few people with true business acumen actually know the market inside and out, can quantify skill vs variance, expected standard deviation etc. Of course I'm referring strictly to live, as online creates an environment where these metrics are easily quantified/solved due to sheer volume. Hence why the vast majority of business advice comes from online grinders. Completely separate market, little to no correlation. Yet it's gobbled up like law.

  • kageykagey Red Chipper, KINGOFTAGS Posts: 2,241 ✭✭✭✭✭
    First let me say that I understand the argument for playing "perfect" as the means to an end. It's funny that "durr" has been brought up in conversation because I had heard stories of how he had a "healthy disregard for money" as did Phil Ivey - which allowed him to climb into the highest stakes simply by playing better than most. (Note: many of Dwan's friends also tried to do this but hit the bad side of variance - preventing them to become as celebrated as he is.) So I'm 100% on board with the idea that we should not see table chips as money but just checker board pieces.

    But this concept only works IF YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON who doesn't care about losing your chips and playing perfect strategy!
    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.
    I'm not trying to be argumentative here - but poker HAS to be about money - otherwise the game falls apart. As a person that has played poker home games using monopoly money, dry dog food pellets and hundred dollar bills - I can tell you for a fact that there is a very big difference when the "dollar pressure" is there. If you don't think Chin has a point about playing higher... consider the opposite.

    Try playing poker with play money and children. Or playing for pennies. Or at Yahoo or some online free money site. There is no bluffing. There is no way to get people off their draws. The games break down into shove/bluff fests because there's no consequences for losing (other than pride). So when EVERY player has no regard for the chips in play, the game of poker becomes BINGO! (This is also why deep, deep cash games play so much different than capped 1/2 games.)

    Another reason that the game of poker IS about money is that knowing what it means to your opponents is how you're able to win more hands. When you know that OMC won't call a 4X PFR without AA or KK - you can render him useless throughout the game and fold when he shoves over the top. Or your can bluff Risk-Adverse Rick off his draw by betting 2X pot - whether or not you even have a hand. Or milk sticky-Steve with the nuts because you know he can't fold for 1/2 pot bets.....

    Poker IS a game about money... Why do you think blinds and antes were invented? If there was nothing to gain - there would be no action!

    So while I concede that poker shouldn't be about the fear of losing money for good players - when we're in the game - It's undeniably a game about money and we should know how money relates to the players we face.

    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?

    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 hire a poker coach.

    If Bill Gates were to be interested in poker - why would he need to bother with 1/2?
    I once heard an interview with Haralabos Voulgaris, aka Bob, who said that instead of playing poker at the lower levels, he cut his teeth playing the high limits and was a better player for it. (Also tournies with bigger entry fees.) In the higher games, he learned how the game should be played which you don't often find in the lower limits (i.e., bluffing, semi-bluffing). He said that although it was an expensive way to learn - he didn't learn the basic "tight" strategy that plagued many of the low limit players moving their way up the levels. So he didn't have to unlearn rules like the 10/20/30 or other such things that folks use to guide their play. His decisions weren't based on rules but on making smart choices.

    So, yeah - we should all aspire to forget that we're playing with money so we can make the best plays while at the table. But me thinks we should remember that our opponents have varying levels of attachment to their chips - and we should use this knowledge to make the best plays.




    BTW - from what I've heard - the "corporation" vs Andy Beal were a series of matches played over several years. And during the first encounters - Doyle, Chip and friends were very uncomfortable playing that high - which affected their play. Ivey played in the later matches.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016
    Artificial Economics and Moral Economics: The Games We Choose and the Force of Circumstance

    There is one thing I don't understand.

    All the considerations about money that have been brought up boil down to one thing.

    This:
    I am compelled to play this game and there is something on the line for me. I am compelled to play this game because this game is very important to me. Why? For professional reasons or because I need the money now. But these particular stakes put me at risk of losing it all. And if I lose all that I have, or even half of all that I have, I will be in trouble. I wont' be able to pay the rent or send my kid to a better school.

    I go through this thought process and then I play the game anyway.

    Well the choice that I made to sit down at the table, in this game, at these stakes, is the choice that I have to be concerned with. It is an existential and character-making choice. I choose to play with the rent-money. For some reason good or bad I think I must make this choice instead of playing in another game, at another level, or just another day. It is a gamblers choice. It is a moral choice. (I do not use the concept of moral choice to condemn the choices we make. I use the concept as a descriptive to point to the fact that nothing forces us to play poker.)

    I have known many people in many situations who think they are compelled to do certain things. Some make a moral choice to do things that are dangerous, because their world -view compels them. Some say to themselves "I am risking life and limb in exchange for the rent and to help my family." Or, "I am risking life and limb in exchange for a better world or a better country." But nobody should say to themselves, "I have to risk life and limb to play poker." They might say this to themselves, but truly, if they do, they should think of a better way.

    Among the many life experiences I had before I finished school was to see people (mostly women) in a chicken processing factory in Texas. These were mostly black and Hispanic. women and they were trying to form a union. Many of them lost their jobs for this act of solidarity. They were harassed, their landlords were pressured to evict them. They risked being homeless for a better life. And they still fought for what they wanted. A good 10% of the workers at this factory had lost fingers. These workers traded their fingers for the rent money.

    I have seen people in war zones who risk their lives so that their families don't can eat and peasants in Central America risk their lives for a better world.

    These are real exchange values. This is real life economics. These are moral choices under the force of circumstance.

    The force of circumstance created the choices these people had to make, and within those circumstances they made moral and economic choices, good and bad, but often risky. These are economic and moral choices that are not a part of the ideology of "the entrepreneur as hero." (It is my left-wing Catholic background that gives me a feel for these circumstances. I think it is significant of how my view of money and risk is different than many here. When I think of "risk" I think of workers on an assembly line, or peasants in Central America trying to keep their land. I don't think of entrepreneurs risking money.)

    I am not using these examples as a trump card but only to give perspective.

    Poker is a kind of artificial economics. Human beings have created the artificial economics of gambling probably with the rise of the first city-states. As soon as we created debt we created gambling. As soon as we created tokens for exchange value a form of gambling became possible.

    Poker is a game. We choose the game, the game doesn't choose us. It is not the force of circumstance that puts us in the game. No matter how much it feels to you that you are compelled to play, you are not. You have made a moral choice to play and to put your money on the line.

    I have made this choice. I realize it is a choice. It is my moral choice to play this game.

    If while you are at the poker table, the artificial economics of poker is overwhelmed by the moral economics of exchange value, then you have chosen the wrong game or the wrong stakes. If you begin to see 10 green chips as the exchange value of a month's rent for your children, or a new flat screen television, then you are no longer in the game. You have left the artificial economics of poker and you are back in the moral economics of life and limb.

    If you are playing with the fear of losing the rent money then you can't be playing at the top of your game. You will make better and worse choice out of fear ,but not optimal choices.

    The choice to sit down at this seat, at this table, at this time, with these stakes is an important choice. It is a pre-game choice. But once you are in the game you have to play as if those chips in front of you are just symbols of winning and losing, not possible exchange values for food, education, land, and shelter. If you look at ten green chips and see a months mortgage or a car payment, then you are not in the game, you are somewhere else.

    This is not a high-horse. It is more like a strong mule.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    kagey said:
    If Bill Gates were to be interested in poker - why would he need to bother with 1/2?

    Kagey, your post was very good.

    The question is: What would poker "mean" if it wasn't played for money?

    But that is the very point. Why does Bill Gates prefer Bridge to Poker? Both are negative-EV to him given the opportunity costs.

    Why do people play chess? It is not for the money. Only the top 50 chess player in the world really make significant money playing chess.

    What do amateurs box? It is not for the money.

    I boxed as an amateur and chess was always my game of choice before I started playing NLHE.

    What if I said to you that I play poker for the same reason I used to play chess? Would you believe me? What if I said to you that I play poker for the same reason I used to box in college? Would you believe me?

    The truth is both: For me poker is the right marriage between boxing and chess. It allows for all of my non-solidaristic, competitive, and "homo-economicus" side to come through. And yes it is because money is part of the game that I can measure the defeat of others. I see that people feel bad about losing their money. There is a bit of cruelty in the satisfaction I feel. It is not a way I would act in everyday life, but it is the way I feel about the game when I am still at the table and decide to cash in my chips.

    Poker without the money wouldn't be as fun because so many people in our society care so much about money. It would not allow me to exercise the part of my own personality that is very competitive and likes to "triumph" over my opponents. ,

    In a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" universe, where the money doesn't matter will people sill play poker? Yes. Why? Because poker is partially about calculating, partially about misrepresenting yourself, partially about tricking others into giving you credit, partially about ranking yourself in a hierarchy. All these things are human social activities that evolution has programmed us to enjoy.

    But if we lived in a society where money didn't matter we would probably invent a different, even more cerebral and complicated form of poker, to warrant our competitive worth, in bluff, credit, false credit, confidence, game, and hierarchy.
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭✭
    I think you are right Imperator.

    I think than the biggest decision a player has is in choosing poker and what exactly does that mean.

    You laid out well exactly what that means.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    I have another example:

    The men and women in my family in my grandparents generation were bookies and ran numbers. They leveraged these "jobs" into buying nightclubs and restaurants. They put the next generation through college on their "winnings." (That is what they always called whatever profit they made.) My Uncle Tony (my grandfather's bother) ran a casino in the basement of his nightclub. They were not gamblers but they knew a lot of gamblers. They thought that all gamblers were "marks". This was their attitude.

    They had a lot of money by time I was 8 years old. Every Friday and Saturday night they would play poker. It was 7-card Stud, dealer's choice. What stakes did they play for? Nickle-Dime-Quarter, usually on Fridays. Why? They would moan and groan over losing pots with $10 dollars in it. They wanted to win.

    My grandmother taught me how to play. I was 8 years old and she used to let me sit next to her. She would let me play her hand. Later I would play One-Two-cents-Nickle, to their Nickle-Dime-Quarter. Being at the table and winning the occasional hand meant much more to me than the nickles. They would all laugh when I won a hand and saw my smile. Great times.

    But why play poker for these people? It was of course largely for social reasons. But they were also very, very competitive. Winning meant a lot to them. The little bit of money was only a symbol of winning and losing.

    Now there were other stakes of poker they played . $5-$10-$20. They invited "The Big Shots" and "The Big Wheels" (that's what they called them) to play in these games and they played with them and from what I hear, they took their money. I never saw these games. I was only told about them. But these games were no fun. They were just business.

    So here's my question:

    What was the real poker game? The $5-$10-$20 games that were no fun, that they played for business purposes, or the Nickle-Dime-Quarter games that they loved and talked about and strategized over constantly, the whole week until the next game? It was obvious to me that they cared more about the competition and winning and losing at the game that cost them no money than they did at the game that was played for a lot of money. Why? Mostly because it gave them bragging rights.

    Epilogue: Italian Grandma Beats Up Cowboys

    It was my grandmother who mostly game out the best in these Friday night games.

    So here's the story: My grandparents once took me to Las Vegas in 1972. During this vacation my grandmother found a 5-card stud poker game somewhere. She bought in.

    My grandmother was 5ft 1in and 85lbs at most. She had the classic look of a little old lady. She told me the men at the table started making little "gentlemanly" jokes about her when she sat in at the table. I forget what the buy in was but it wasn't small. I don't even know what the stakes were. I do know that she left the table with more than $8,000 dollars-up (a lot more money back then than now). and the guys in the big hats were not joking with her anymore. She paid for the vacation with that money and gave the rest to the Catholic Church.

    This is one of those stories that is told in my family whenever we remember my grandparents and I like telling it here.

    But why did she play? She didn't play for the money, obviously. She took the money from these men and gave it to the Catholic Church. I think there was obvious satisfaction in that for her. But I think she played to see if she could do it. I think she also played to see the look on the faces of "those cowboys," as she called them, when she took them down. I wish I was there. I wold give up all of my poker winnings forever just to be there for that.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    I think you are right Imperator.

    I think than the biggest decision a player has is in choosing poker and what exactly does that mean.

    You laid out well exactly what that means.

    Thank you very much. I took time from poker study to write these posts. But I enjoyed them very much. I enjoyed the responses.

    And with you, Christian, and with Matt, I heard from people I have come to respect. I have looked up your biographies and I think I understand who you are. I look forward to meeting you some day. And if we ever play in the same game I look forward to you taking my chips (or vice-versa.)

    Just exchanging views with you guys has made buying into this website +EV for me.

    Back to studying and I have a game tonight.
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭✭
    Imperator wrote: »
    Artificial Economics and Moral Economics: The Games We Choose and the Force of Circumstance

    There is one thing I don't understand.

    All the considerations about money that have been brought up boil down to one thing.

    This:
    I am compelled to play this game and there is something on the line for me. I am compelled to play this game because this game is very important to me. Why? For professional reasons or because I need the money now. But these particular stakes put me at risk of losing it all. And if I lose all that I have, or even half of all that I have, I will be in trouble. I wont' be able to pay the rent or send my kid to a better school.

    I go through this thought process and then I play the game anyway.

    Well the choice that I made to sit down at the table, in this game, at these stakes, is the choice that I have to be concerned with. It is an existential and character-making choice. I choose to play with the rent-money. For some reason good or bad I think I must make this choice instead of playing in another game, at another level, or just another day. It is a gamblers choice. It is a moral choice. (I do not use the concept of moral choice to condemn the choices we make. I use the concept as a descriptive to point to the fact that nothing forces us to play poker.)

    I have known many people in many situations who think they are compelled to do certain things. Some make a moral choice to do things that are dangerous, because their world -view compels them. Some say to themselves "I am risking life and limb in exchange for the rent and to help my family." Or, "I am risking life and limb in exchange for a better world or a better country." But nobody should say to themselves, "I have to risk life and limb to play poker." They might say this to themselves, but truly, if they do, they should think of a better way.

    Among the many life experiences I had before I finished school was to see people (mostly women) in a chicken processing factory in Texas. These were mostly black and Hispanic. women and they were trying to form a union. Many of them lost their jobs for this act of solidarity. They were harassed, their landlords were pressured to evict them. They risked being homeless for a better life. And they still fought for what they wanted. A good 10% of the workers at this factory had lost fingers. These workers traded their fingers for the rent money.

    I have seen people in war zones who risk their lives so that their families don't can eat and peasants in Central America risk their lives for a better world.

    These are real exchange values. This is real life economics. These are moral choices under the force of circumstance.

    The force of circumstance created the choices these people had to make, and within those circumstances they made moral and economic choices, good and bad, but often risky. These are economic and moral choices that are not a part of the ideology of "the entrepreneur as hero." (It is my left-wing Catholic background that gives me a feel for these circumstances. I think it is significant of how my view of money and risk is different than many here. When I think of "risk" I think of workers on an assembly line, or peasants in Central America trying to keep their land. I don't think of entrepreneurs risking money.)

    I am not using these examples as a trump card but only to give perspective.

    Poker is a kind of artificial economics. Human beings have created the artificial economics of gambling probably with the rise of the first city-states. As soon as we created debt we created gambling. As soon as we created tokens for exchange value a form of gambling became possible.

    Poker is a game. We choose the game, the game doesn't choose us. It is not the force of circumstance that puts us in the game. No matter how much it feels to you that you are compelled to play, you are not. You have made a moral choice to play and to put your money on the line.

    I have made this choice. I realize it is a choice. It is my moral choice to play this game.

    If while you are at the poker table, the artificial economics of poker is overwhelmed by the moral economics of exchange value, then you have chosen the wrong game or the wrong stakes. If you begin to see 10 green chips as the exchange value of a month's rent for your children, or a new flat screen television, then you are no longer in the game. You have left the artificial economics of poker and you are back in the moral economics of life and limb.

    If you are playing with the fear of losing the rent money then you can't be playing at the top of your game. You will make better and worse choice out of fear ,but not optimal choices.

    The choice to sit down at this seat, at this table, at this time, with these stakes is an important choice. It is a pre-game choice. But once you are in the game you have to play as if those chips in front of you are just symbols of winning and losing, not possible exchange values for food, education, land, and shelter. If you look at ten green chips and see a months mortgage or a car payment, then you are not in the game, you are somewhere else.

    This is not a high-horse. It is more like a strong mule.

    This may very well be the strongest post I've read on this forum.
  • kageykagey Red Chipper, KINGOFTAGS Posts: 2,241 ✭✭✭✭✭
    good posts, Imperator.
    great food for thought.
    BTW - if you haven't already - I suggest checking out an MIT lecture on poker economics on youtube. It expands on the influence of poker in our economy.
    Interesting stuff.

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