Behavioural Economics and Poker

The MuleThe Mule Red Chipper Posts: 787 ✭✭✭
edited January 2017 in General Concepts
@imperator mentioned this field in another post (great to have you back by the way). This is a particular field of interest to me, and was one of the main attractions of taking up poker (a hobby with behavioural economics and game theory ? Sign me up !).

I'd be interested to hear if anyone has thought about the impact of behavioural economics on poker play. Has anyone tried to implement elements into their strategy ? Has anyone come across any good articles or resources on the topic ? Has anyone observed the impact of cognitive biases in their opponent's play (or their own) ?

For anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about but is interested, I'd recommend reading this paper by Kahneman and Tversky:
http://psiexp.ss.uci.edu/research/teaching/Tversky_Kahneman_1974.pdf

Kahneman also has a more recent book which is interesting:
Thinking, Fast and Slow.

A couple of examples spring to my mind:
Anchoring - players raising to three times the bet, regardless of the size of that bet;
Availability - overestimating the frequency of flushes in your opponent's range when the flush comes in.

Any others ?
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Comments

  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    By the way, Thinking, Fast and Slow is an essential non poker book for poker players. I've recommended it in the past in this forum.

    @colldav this is a thread I wanted to start.

    I'm without internet at the moment so longer thoughts will have to wait.

    Also there is a new book out on the collaboration of Kahneman and Tversky and the development of behavioural economics by Michael Lewis The Undoing Project.
  • The MuleThe Mule Red Chipper Posts: 787 ✭✭✭
    Thanks for the recommendation @Imperator . Michael Lewis books are always an entertaining read.

    I've been meaning to start this thread for a while. I deliberately waited until you were back with us.
  • Wiki_LeaksWiki_Leaks Red Chipper Posts: 564 ✭✭✭
    I got "The Undoing Project" for Christmas and so far its awesome. Will be monitoring this thread as I progress further in the book.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    edited January 2017
    colldav wrote: »
    I've been meaning to start this thread for a while. I deliberately waited until you were back with us.

    @colldav that made me feel good! It was an amazingly nice thing to say. Thank you.

    Profitable Expected Utility Situations in Poker

    You referred to the other thread so I want to bring up something in that thread that is relevant here.

    I said in that thread that "expected utility" is an off-the-felt consideration. But I've wondered for a long time if there is not an "expected utility" that is important for on -the-felt. In other words, when does the "expected utility" of your chips add up to long run expected value situations?

    The obvious answer is the "Independent Chip Model" used in tournaments. implies a utility function. There is a "Chip Utility Theory" separate from ICM that is proposed by some tournament theorists. I know very little about these things because I've only played cash-live. On-line I've been playing tournaments but mostly just to see more hands. What is important to note here is that ICM considerations assume various levels of expected utility of your chips. And when the utility of your chips is almost nil and it is worth going all-in with a large range of hands.

    Modern ideas of expected utility that factor into behavioral economics take into account some of these facts. For instance you maybe so poor that it is better to risk your last dime on a roll of the dice than to save it. Or you might be so poor that you need to stay in place during a flood because if you lose everything your life is over already.

    But let me say that I think that "expected chip utility" is possible in NLHE cash games in two ways. In reverse... you sometimes want to bluff a player because you know that they will call you when you have it. This is a "game theory" notion of course but "reverse expected utility" means that you can lose chips on this bluff now because you know you will gain them back at a future date. You can only do this if you have brought enough of your poker bankroll to the card room. Thus it fits in with Bernoulli's ideas that expected utility is measured by the ratio of your bankroll to your risk of losing.

    In short you play tighter with a smaller bankroll.

    Thus a "chip utility theory" can be factored into a behavioral economics of poker. If you know that one reason your opponent is playing tight is because she is under bankrolled, you can guess that your fold equity against that opponent will be higher.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    edited January 2017
    colldav wrote: »
    I'd be interested to hear if anyone has thought about the impact of behavioural economics on poker play.
    ....
    A couple of examples spring to my mind:
    Anchoring - players raising to three times the bet, regardless of the size of that bet;
    Availability - overestimating the frequency of flushes in your opponent's range when the flush comes in.

    Any others ?

    I think that there is so much here to write about that it is hard to know where to begin.

    But since this began with a reference to the Bernoulli's utility function I would like to look at the difference between Tversky & (especially) Kahneman's idea of utility and the way it is used in traditional economics (especially in insurance). So I will think about this for a future post.

    I would like to say that the theory of "framing" and the concept of "utility" (in Tversky & Kahneman's usage) is crucial to the study of how people apprehend and misapprehend risk. From what I know of the literature (without actually having read it) people working in the field have begun to study "us"... I mean poker players and other players.... etc.

    This is not my field. Philosophy and the history of science is my field... (But I love the history of mathematics so I'm in there someplace.)

    Yet to think about these things I think is good for those poker players who are trying to put their minds straight.

    The truth is that I look at the wider view of poker as a way to ramp myself up, to triangulate, to the knowledge that poker players I admire, ( @Matt Berkey or Fedor Holz or.... ) got to through pure poker thought. The experiential skill level is not something I think you can get to through this kind of intellectual triangulation, but I think that it may make every poker experience deeper and may cut-out a few detours.

    That is why I think studying cognitive biases revealed by behavioral economics is important. I also want to point out an important derivative of behavioral economics, behavioral game theory.

    @colldav referenced a 1974 paper of Tversky & Kahneman... I would like to reference the first paper of their's that I ever read from a few years later: Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision Under Risk. This is the foundational paper.

  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    edited January 2017
    Probability Distortion as Illustrated in The Fourfold Pattern of Risk

    And oh yes, maybe the most important thing poker players can learn from Behavioral Economics is the origin of probability distortion, how to avoid it in ourselves, and exploit it in others.

    The probability distortion as illustrated in the fourfold pattern of risk should be acknowledged by all those looking to punch the pain threshold. (I think you'll be interested especially @Christian Soto , @Matt Berkey , and @Faustovaldez123 so take a look at the illustration of the fourfold pattern. )

    19gh50joelnl.png

    I provide this second image as a "psychological" illustration of the first image. I don't necessarily believe in the choices below, but we may be able to come up with our own possible psychological profiles that dovetail with the fourfold pattern of probability distortion.


    cj97isuqiss1.png


    Recent research seems to show that probability distortion is a cognitive bias shared by all primates so it is deep in our biological make-up and takes more training to overcome it.

    I want to emphasize again the importance of Tversky & Kahneman. It is there theory both deeply psychological and interestingly mathematical that explains why the above illustration of probability distortion is hard to shake from our brains.

    And let me say that without Pascal, Fermat, & Bernoulli we couldn't have gotten there in the first place. We had to have a good understanding of probability and expected value, and a view of how expected utility played out in the field of expected value, before we could understand these distortions in our thinking.
  • Matt BerkeyMatt Berkey Red Chipper, RCP Coach Posts: 278 ✭✭✭
    Imperator wrote: »
    Recent research seems to show that probability distortion is a cognitive bias shared by all primates so it is deep in our biological make-up and takes more training to overcome it.

    I want to emphasize again the importance of Tversky & Kahneman. It is there theory both deeply psychological and interestingly mathematical that explains why the above illustration of probability distortion is hard to shake from our brains.

    And let me say that without Pascal, Fermat, & Bernoulli we couldn't have gotten there in the first place. We had to have a good understanding of probability and expected value, and a view of how expected utility played out in the field of expected value, before we could understand these distortions in our thinking.

    Add Berkey to the list :) Jokes aside, by recognizing very early in my career that I lacked (or more likely overcame) this cognitive bias, which plagued all my opposition, allowed me to comprehend pain threshold and leverage points. I built my entire strategy from that notion backward-- pumping money into pots through a giant game of chicken where most were unwilling to accept the risk. Anyway, I think this angle of study from the behavioral psychology is far more fascinating and applicable (when married to the proper math) than exhaustively attempting solver work. At least in the short term, I can see the potential for far more niche growth studying the former.
  • kageykagey Red Chipper, KINGOFTAGS Posts: 2,241 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I've been reading: "You're not so Smart" by David McRaney
    which isn't really about behavioural economics... but more of brain biases and how it sometimes informs the behaviour... and what we "know" to be true. (good read)

    one chapter I really liked was the one about "Priming"
    basically - in an experiment, pschologists "primed" one group by showing them business objects (briefcase, etc) while the other group was shown neutral objects (backpack, etc).
    then the participants played a game with actors - and the group that was "primed" with business objects showed more "aggression" in negotiations.... consistently.
    (I'm paraphrasing the study, but the results are appropriate)

    ... which got me to thinking about how one dresses in the poker room - and what one says at the table... are we "priming" our opponents to how they respond?
    Is an opponent more likely to fold to a shove by a guy in a hoodie wearing headphones or a dude dressed in a coat and tie? or designer shirt?
    Is an opponent more likely to call your raise (to try and bust you) if you mention things that "triggers" him? or more likely to fold?
  • The MuleThe Mule Red Chipper Posts: 787 ✭✭✭
    I think a lot of the mistakes can be attributed to one of these cognitive biases. I think it would be an interesting exercise to work through "Playing the Player" through the lens of behavioural economics. I'll add it to my list...

    Probability Distortion
    What are the practical implications of probability distortion ?
    An obvious one is bad players chasing draws and calling with speculative hands without having the odds.
    I guess another is nits shoving their nut hands so they don't get drawn out on.
    Any others ?

    Is there a way we can exploit this ?
    I guess when we put a villain on a range we are making an assessment of their view on the profitability of their hands, and therefore probabilities of making a winning hand. Playing our hand optimally (as optimally as we can) against their assumed range seems to me to exploit this tendency. Are there more active steps we can take ?

    Priming
    @kagey , the problem with dressing to illicit a particular response is that we don't always want that response. We can't just put the hoodie on when we want a fold, and take it off when we want a call - this probably wouldn't be a winning strategy.

    However it does show that you should be very cognisant of your image. Playing against your image is probably going to be more profitable.

    As for triggering actions through "speech play", that definitely seems to be a thing...
  • YoshYosh Red Chipper Posts: 580 ✭✭✭
    The obvious behavior that jumps out at me from @Imperator's diagram is "protecting" wins. Do big stacks at the table often clam up and start turning down +EV, but rather high risk propositions?
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    edited January 2017
    kagey wrote: »
    I've been reading: "You're not so Smart" by David McRaney
    which isn't really about behavioural economics... but more of brain biases and how it sometimes informs the behaviour... and what we "know" to be true. (good read)

    one chapter I really liked was the one about "Priming"
    basically - in an experiment, pschologists "primed" one group by showing them business objects (briefcase, etc) while the other group was shown neutral objects (backpack, etc).
    then the participants played a game with actors - and the group that was "primed" with business objects showed more "aggression" in negotiations.... consistently.
    (I'm paraphrasing the study, but the results are appropriate)

    @kagey , this book is on my reading list.

    I first heard of David McRaney from the Rationally Speaking Podcast. I have recommended this podcast in the past. Of non-poker podcasts for poker players I would highly recommend Rationally Speaking. Not every podcast will aid your poker playing but most will help you understand your own stupidity.

    Rationally Speaking #56 is David McRaney on “Why it’s so hard to change someone’s mind”

    By the way McRaney has his own podcast here... Some of the episodes on specific cognitive biases you all will find helpful.

    I want to say that priming is something that Kahneman has studied and is an aspect of Anchoring. But he also expressed skepticism about the wide use of priming. I think he once said that something like 75% of the papers on priming have become a prime example for doubts about the integrity of psychological research. (I'm quoting from memory here...) But you know, in psychology if you bat above .250 you are not doing so bad.

    I agree with @colldav that the best table talkers have some advantage here; but let me define their advantage: They are able to do two things...

    1) They talk;
    2) They listen and see;

    Listening is a highly underrated art form.

    Good table talkers talk in ways that don't give themselves away and in ways that may mislead, thus they may be able to prime their own bets;

    But I think that the more important part of table talk is that the best talkers are able to see and listen and understand bad attempts by opponents to prime their bluffs and value bets.

    Probability Distortion and Bet Sizing
    I think that the biggest effect that the idea of probability distortion has on our play is understanding when larger or smaller bet size might work with one player or another. Thus understanding the bet size and understanding the range and thought process of the opponent go together here. That is the problem with applying these ideas here.

    The Content of Knowledge and the Quality of Experience
    @Matt Berkey 's reply to me I think underestimates his own play. Experience is prime. There is no substitute for experience. The great poker players are able to learn the most from their own experience. What we are looking for when we study these things is to be able to sort and understand our own table experience better and quicker than people who haven't studied these things. There is no one to one match of one set (our content of knowledge) with the other set (our quality of experience).

    With poker players of great and deep experience they are to organizes the quality of their experience by building the content of their knowledge. What develops is a virtuous circle. People like me (and I think you @colldav ) are trying to ramp up the quality of our experience by using the content of our knowledge.

  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    edited January 2017
    Yosh wrote: »
    The obvious behavior that jumps out at me from @Imperator's diagram is "protecting" wins. Do big stacks at the table often clam up and start turning down +EV, but rather high risk propositions?

    Yes... especially with non-professionals and the under-bankrolled.

    Bankroll, Probability, Pain Management

    But I will write more on bankroll and probability when I get a chance to think through the experiments done that show how people cannot understand the mathematics behind bankroll management illustrated by the Kelly Criterion....

    I think that the idea that "portfolio management" can be applied to your poker bankroll and your buy-ins can be looked at as a optimal size of a series of bets. is something that, as far as I know, hasn't been widely talked about in poker.

    I also want to relate how we allocate our buy-ins over time, in relation to our bankroll and how that relates to probability, probability distortion, and behavioral economics.

    I also want to show that this "intertemporal portfolio choice" (as the Capitalist Bosses and their Managers call it) actually does put a limit on how and when you can use the pain threshold to your advantage.

    When I do write about his I would like @Christian Soto , @Matt Berkey and all others who advocate the pain threshold to jump all over me and tell me why and how I'm wrong.
  • kageykagey Red Chipper, KINGOFTAGS Posts: 2,241 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Imperator wrote: »
    I want to say that priming is something that Kahneman has studied and is an aspect of Anchoring. But he also expressed skepticism about the wide use of priming. I think he once said that something like 75% of the papers on priming have become a prime example for doubts about the integrity of psychological research. (I'm quoting from memory here...)
    yeah - i'm expecting @porter to come along and tell me that priming were cognitive biased studies that's been proven wrong! or the guys doing the study were conflating the results to get a grant! (if you can't trust scientists, then WHO can you trust?)
    :-)

    I'm also surprised that @DrTricia Cardner hasn't stopped by to offer some insight. Where has that Valley Girl been?
  • The MuleThe Mule Red Chipper Posts: 787 ✭✭✭
    Sorry it's taken me a while to get back to this.

    @Imperator I think the research would indicate Expected Utility should have a very direct application to cash games.

    The Fourfold Pattern proposes that people are risk seeking in the domain of losses, and risk averse in the domain of gains. Graphically, the utility vs $ curve kinks at the origin, with a steeper gradient in the third quadrant than the first. In practice this translates to players playing tighter when they're up ("Protecting wins" as @Yosh says) and gambling more when they're down. This sounds consistent with what I've observed at the table.

    This also highlights the "Framing" effect. Players choose to use their buy-in as the reference point, rather than a more meaningful reference, like their bankroll. I assume there could also be other or even multiple reference points - if a player is on a weekend poker trip the weekend's profit/loss could be more important than that of the session. The session gain or loss is something we can estimate however, while the trip performance is usually not.

    One potential exploit I have heard (I think it was from "Caro's Book of Tells") was when a player separates their profits from the rest of their stack then you can apply more pressure by sizing bets that would wipe out their profits for the session.
  • The MuleThe Mule Red Chipper Posts: 787 ✭✭✭
    Imperator wrote: »
    The Content of Knowledge and the Quality of Experience
    @Matt Berkey 's reply to me I think underestimates his own play. Experience is prime. There is no substitute for experience. The great poker players are able to learn the most from their own experience. What we are looking for when we study these things is to be able to sort and understand our own table experience better and quicker than people who haven't studied these things. There is no one to one match of one set (our content of knowledge) with the other set (our quality of experience).

    With poker players of great and deep experience they are to organizes the quality of their experience by building the content of their knowledge. What develops is a virtuous circle. People like me (and I think you @colldav ) are trying to ramp up the quality of our experience by using the content of our knowledge.

    @imperator , can you talk more about what you mean by this ? (Apologies for my being slow on the uptake).

    I view knowledge as like a jigsaw. At first when you are putting the pieces into place it is difficult, you know roughly where they go but it can be difficult to know how they fit together. As you get more knowledge (and experience) you get a better idea of the big picture, and a more holistic view of how it all fits together.

    My current view of experience is as a means of gaining further knowledge, but much more for improving skills. I see the skills (such as hand reading, constructing ranges etc.) as the practical application of the knowledge. Both are essential to improvement.

    I hope that improving my skills will make it easier to expand my knowledge through experience, which I think is part of the virtuous circle you talk about.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    colldav wrote: »
    @Imperator I think the research would indicate Expected Utility should have a very direct application to cash games.

    The Fourfold Pattern proposes that people are risk seeking in the domain of losses, and risk averse in the domain of gains. Graphically, the utility vs $ curve kinks at the origin, with a steeper gradient in the third quadrant than the first. In practice this translates to players playing tighter when they're up ("Protecting wins" as @Yosh says) and gambling more when they're down. This sounds consistent with what I've observed at the table.

    @colldav I think you are exactly right in how you state things. In fact I think you frame it perfectly.

    But I have .... what to say... a philosopher's skepticism deeply ingrained in me of moving directly from theory to practice. (From Hume and Bertrand Russell and my own inherited Italian peasant pessimism I think this comes.)

    My skepticism comes from being able to see the players and how they play at various levels.

    An Example of Your Point
    There is a short-stacker, I play with often at one of my games. She buys in short and is not shy about getting it all in. She will buy three or four times and leave if she looses it all. (One of my buy ins equal 4 of hers and I'm put my stop-loss at 4 in a session myself.) All in all she's a winner. She never looses much and when she wins she does well.

    If she is winning with her fourth buy-in though I know I've got her if I'm heads up with her. I can almost bluff her with any two cards. And I think deep down she knows I'm doing this. Why? Because she doesn't want to lose that fourth buy in. She wants to protect her winnings. This is all exactly as you say.

    The Quality of Knowledge - Theory and Praxis
    But this is a very rare case of knowledge, at least for me. And with many players tilt throws a a wrench of unpredictability into all of this. The quality of my knowledge with these players have yet to match up with my own theoretical knowledge of where and when.

    (What I'm thinking of is the kind of quality of knowledge that @Matt Berkey showed in his hand with Jennifer Tilley in his Just Hands description here & here.)

    So let me propose another way to approach this. Work from the inside out. Try at every space and turn to overcome the probability distortion of your own mind. Don't stop reading other players and finding these misapprehensions in others, but begin on concentrating on yourself.

    What I believe is that there is a sense that the "experiential" is more important than the theoretical within these probabilistic boundaries. But that we can use our knowledge of the theory to give more depth to our experience and thus take a short cut through the many years of experience that we usually need.

    Well that's my hope.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    colldav wrote: »
    Imperator wrote: »
    The Content of Knowledge and the Quality of Experience

    @imperator , can you talk more about what you mean by this ? (Apologies for my being slow on the uptake).

    Ha! My last post came before you asked this question.

    Let me get to it in more depth later because I made a promise to my grandson that I must keep for now.

    But as you can see I think this question was implicit in your previous post but one, because I gave a partial answer there.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    colldav wrote: »
    @imperator , can you talk more about what you mean by this ? (Apologies for my being slow on the uptake). .

    I will try to explain here. I am just trying to accurately describe a process of learning and growing.

    The Quality of Our Experience and the Content of Our Knowledge
    The bible says in the beginning there was the word. But before the word there was the action. And with the action there is always experience.
    My paraphrase, translation of
    Bertolt Brecht

    The Experiential as Prime

    First you have to realize that I'm talking about a type of player, but I think my description fits most players who start young and become great.

    Young poker or chess players who become good have a lot of discipline in studying themselves and others. They are able to understand themselves quite well and evaluate their own mistakes. I don't find that they are applying "non- game" theoretical knowledge to their game. What they are doing is gathering experience from their game and (eventually) using "in-game" theoretical knowledge to play.

    By non-game theoretical knowledge I simply mean all theoretical knowledge that is not direct theoretical knowledge of the game itself.

    By in-game theoretical knowledge I mean all strategy, tactics and theory that is gathered from the game itself whether experience with the game or simply reading about, thinking about, studying and talking about the game.

    Knowledge of theories of math or probability is non-game theoretical knowledge. Knowledge that comes from Janda's Applications of NLHE is in-game theoretical knowledge.

    A player studies the game but does not, say, study psychology or mathematics. They study the theory of the game and communicates with coaches and other players and learns theory, etc. But, at first, experience comes first and knowledge is gathered from the clues of their experience and then ramps up that way.

    The Virtuous Circle

    They grow in the game not by gaining bare experience , but by learning to sort their experience . In this way their "playing experiences" become more and more intense and understandable through their developing strategy and tactics. This is what I (think) I saw as a chess coach and as an editor and writing teacher (for all ages).

    Eventually, through (mostly cooperative) help off table (coaches, books, peer-groups, feed-back, etc.) they connect up their experiential tactics and strategy with developing in-game theoretical knowledge. Thus every in-game experience becomes even more intelligible through growing theoretical knowledge, the connection between theory and strategy grows along with the gathering of experience.

    This is not a one-to-one process. The cause and effect is not direct and simple in actual lived experience. So I want to explain it again with a little different emphasis.

    As theoretical and strategic knowledge improves the ability to qualify and study one's own experience improves; and this way the quality of one's experiences improves. Why? Because we are able to see better what we are doing right and wrong and what others are doing right and wrong. As the quality of one's game experience improves (i.e. our ability to see and sort our experience clearly) our capacity for gaining knowledge improves.

    This is the feedback loop or virtuous cycle. But in lived experience the use of the term "feedback loop" oversimplifies what happens in human beings. We are biological systems after-all.

    Non-game Life Experiences: Desiring The Pain and Pleasure of Growth

    @Matt Berkey might not know this but I have done a lot of thinking about him (and other poker players too) gathering what I can of their life experiences and trying to figure out how they grew.

    When I said above that I thought Berkey underestimates his own play, I was thinking precisely of the kind of virtuous circle between in-game theory and praxis that I describe above. I was thinking that for theoretical ideas like "probability distortion" have a different value than it does for him. For him it is a powerful explanation of something he first knew through a reflection on his in-game experiences. Knowing the theoretical and experimental facts behind the Fourfold Pattern for Risk Aversion and Risk Seeking may help him to confirm and refine his in-game praxis but he has already experienced the in-game confirmation of his practice. He recognizes it when he sees it and that comes through experience.

    I try to know my own knowledge. And I'm willing to bet that I know many, many non-poker theoretical systems that @Matt Berkey and @Christian Soto don't know. But my knowledge of the theory and my ability to apply the theory in some areas of practice cannot substitute for being able to see my own poker experience and seeing it clearly. Their ability to see, know and apply their experience and then relate it directly to their strategy is just one thing that make them better than me.

    But let's go back to the young player.

    Every player brings their own personal experience to the table, and at the beginning, for a young player, those personal experiences are crucial. Those experiences shape the original paradigm for how they look at the way they play. But more importantly they shape the experience that they have of the pain and pleasure of understanding and growth.

    This is most important at the beginning: Desiring, wanting, the pain and the eventual pleasure that can lead to growth is the original virtuous circle that, I think, sets everything else moving.

    But here is a strange thing. Once the kind of player I'm thinking about gets into the game, the game itself becomes a driving force of lived experience. If anything, the type of player I'm thinking about learns more and more about life situations and other non-game subjects through the game. They may become well-rounded and begin to study non-game subjects but often it is the game, and analogies to the game, that lead them to those subjects. They use the analogy of their own game to come up to breath and see what they've been missing in life or in subjects like behavioral economics or game theory.

    "In-game" theoretical knowledge is an adjunct at first that helps to better organize their knowledge and they are able to understand their own in-game experience at a deeper level because of it. But with the curious and open minded player it also leaves a door open to other parts of life growth. Not all players walk through that door.

    @colldav I don't agree with your analogy of a jigsaw for some of the above reasons.

    But let me say that when you come to this game late, using something like our knowledge of game theory or behavioral economics or math or science is crucial to getting to that point where we can actually see what we are experience at the table. In other words we are trying to do a kind of retrograde learning. We are using our non-game knowledge and experience to ramp up the intensity of our in-game knowledge and experience.

    @colldav does all that clarify my thinking?

    I don't have time to reread this. So I will post it mistakes and all. So forgive me.
  • Adam WheelerAdam Wheeler Red Chipper Posts: 2,657 ✭✭✭✭
    @Imperator
    Wow...It's a pleasure to read you again !
  • The MuleThe Mule Red Chipper Posts: 787 ✭✭✭
    @Imperator as always it is great to read your thoughts on the learning process. I don't see anything in your post that is inconsistent with my "Jigsaw puzzle" model of learning. Of course, all models are wrong (but some models are more wrong than others...).

    Following on from your post, I assume all players will fall somewhere on a spectrum of experience from completely in-game to completely out-of-game. No doubt in these forums there is a spread of experience types. Is there an implication in your post that the "late-to-the-game" players are capped lower than the younger players, or our younger selves at least ?

    Full credit to those who are able to intuitively understand concepts such as Game Theory and Behavioural Economics from their in-game experience. The question for the rest of us is how to maximise the "quality of experience" we can get. @Imperator (or anyone else), do you have any suggestions on this ?

    I also think that even for us "late to the game" types, in-game and out-of-game knowledge is a two-way street. Many of the skills I have picked up in my job are useful in poker, but also many poker concepts are useful in my workplace (bluff catching, bankroll management, putting people on a range...).
  • kageykagey Red Chipper, KINGOFTAGS Posts: 2,241 ✭✭✭✭✭
    colldav wrote: »
    @Imperator as always it is great to read your thoughts on the learning process. I don't see anything in your post that is inconsistent with my "Jigsaw puzzle" model of learning. Of course, all models are wrong (but some models are more wrong than others...).

    I agree with @Imperator that a jigsaw puzzle probably isn't the best metaphor...

    to complete a jigsaw puzzle, you must have two elements to make the pieces fit:
    the correct physical shape and the correct "big picture" image

    there are a lot of times when a piece will fit in - but it's incorrect for the big picture.

    solving a puzzle here on behavioral economic... you must be able to see the big picture in order for you to know how a piece (tactic/strategy) works
    like in a jigsaw puzzle, it may fit (work once) but if it doesn't complete the big picture and prevents you from completing the entire puzzle if kept in place.

    without knowing the big picture, you're stuck grabbing random pieces and trying to make them fit.
    (Most people don't know the big picture and therefore don't know which pieces would obviously work and which pieces wouldn't.)
    the better solution is taking a step back and understanding the big picture, to which the pieces will fall into place more easily.

    translation: our experiences, skills and observations are elements floating in our brains that may or may not be linked in a way that produces one fluid train of thought. Often, it's not until one strategically chooses them and put them in a specific order that we can reach a desired result. And even then, the result might be an anomaly that we don't understand to being so until it's done enough times to prove it's not the key.


    i see this more as chemistry experiment where anything added automatically fits/blends - but the result is less/more or neutrally optimal than the before the addition. we don't have to worry about the physical pieces fitting... they all do... but like in cooking or chemistry when they're added or how much is added is key.
  • porterporter Red Chipper Posts: 313 ✭✭✭
    kagey wrote: »
    Imperator wrote: »
    I want to say that priming is something that Kahneman has studied and is an aspect of Anchoring. But he also expressed skepticism about the wide use of priming. I think he once said that something like 75% of the papers on priming have become a prime example for doubts about the integrity of psychological research. (I'm quoting from memory here...)
    yeah - i'm expecting @porter to come along and tell me that priming were cognitive biased studies that's been proven wrong! or the guys doing the study were conflating the results to get a grant! (if you can't trust scientists, then WHO can you trust?)
    :-)

    I'm also surprised that @DrTricia Cardner hasn't stopped by to offer some insight. Where has that Valley Girl been?

    Thanks for tagging me, @kagey. I'm enjoying the discussion. So glad that @colldav started it and for the return of @Imperator.

    I think that we should be very skeptical of psychological priming. I won't be surprised if many or most of those studies turn out not to be replicable, much like Amy Cuddy's power posing. Let's leave the p-hacking to our newly elected prez when he travels abroad. (This joke is so dumb but I'm going with it.)

    Books like David McRaney's, which are surveys of a bunch of studies, are entertaining but dangerous to draw conclusions from. You have to rely on the book author to have carefully reviewed and correctly interpreted the original studies. Then you have to rely on the study authors to not have done anything wrong (and there should be many studies replicating the same finding).

    Kahneman, of course, is different. And like Imperator and colldav I love his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow.
  • porterporter Red Chipper Posts: 313 ✭✭✭
    Great post on experience and learning, @Imperator.

    Would you say that the terms 'metacognition' and 'metastrategic knowledge' broadly cover some of what you are describing? Those came to mind after reading @colldav's original post, though you have done a much better job expressing them than I would have.

    I wonder and am asking because I was surprised to read your posts without seeing those terms explicitly used. But maybe I am confusing things.
  • The MuleThe Mule Red Chipper Posts: 787 ✭✭✭
    What my wife doesn't get about poker is that it transcends the playing of a simple game. Aside from increasing my vocabulary, I am being exposed to complicated philosophical concepts like "metacognition" and "metastrategic knowledge" ! If it comes to a metalevelling war I have no doubt I will be crushed by @porter and @Imperator.

    @kagey , in another post you mentioned Confirmation. I think this is another of the more important cognitive biases in poker. In another thread ("Balanced Exploitation", where I invented the concept of "Image") I rambled about the idea that by playing balanced in terms of overall frequencies rather than in a specific situation, your opponents can each interpret your play as confirming their own biases and justifying their own mistakes. The nit sees you value betting the calling station, and it justifies their overfolding. The calling station sees you bluffing the nit, and it justifies their excessive calling.

    Image has come up a few times in the thread, it's not unreasonable to think it should be closely tied to the topic. As I read it, "Easy Game" essentially said that manipulating your image is the key to playing exploitatively. Is this a fair assessment ? @Imperator (and others), what are your thoughts on the role of Image, in particular as it relates to inducing cognitive errors ?
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,842 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Imperator wrote: »
    I'm without internet at the moment...

    The mind reels.....

  • YoshYosh Red Chipper Posts: 580 ✭✭✭
    An opportunity for cognitive error presents itself whenever the card distribution (both pre and post flop) creates a bias. Everyone who considers poker more than a friend has notions of what appropriate frequencies "look" like. These are the preconceived statistical process controls your brain is always running. How much is too much? This is how you are able to categorize your opposition for potential exploitation. Our (often poor) interpretation of randomness in game can very quickly distort the true nature of a strategy, opening up the door for poor counter-adjustments.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    jeffnc wrote: »
    Imperator wrote: »
    I'm without internet at the moment...

    The mind reels.....

    LOL. I'm more concise when I'm in a place where the internet is intermittent and I have to type with my thumbs over my not-very smart phone.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    porter wrote: »
    Great post on experience and learning, @Imperator.

    Would you say that the terms 'metacognition' and 'metastrategic knowledge' broadly cover some of what you are describing?

    @porter , TY for the compliment.

    As far as your question: Yes, you are correct but I don't use those terms... I thought of the concept of "metacognition" (metastrategic is new to me though) and then decided to let it go away. After all I already sound too much like a left Hegelian by using the phrase theory and praxis. But what is metastrategy but theory?

    I'm a philosopher by training but so many of my High School and college friends went into comedy and sometimes I wish I was as funny enough to choose another profession. (You will see the irony later.)

    And being a philosopher, and not a comedian, I'm going to write too much about this topic.

    A Philsophical Reason for being non-Meta
    So let me put it another way by way of analogy...

    There is a sense that Kant's metaphysics was necessary for him to sketch out his categories of mind. But his metaphysics was a derivative meta-theory of Newtonian physics. I have a Kantian bent to my thought and I think there are a lot of things that make psychological sense about Kant's categories. The metaphysics is useful for telling us why we think the way we do but not very useful as a meta-theory for Newtonian physics which is where Kant's thought began.

    This may sound funny to discuss this but the project to find the human limits of reason is not unlike the project to find the limits of the purely rational economic actor which is the origins of Behavioral Economics. So it is also important to know what theories do.

    The real meta-theory of Newtonian physics is Einstein's Theory of Special and General Relativity. If you have an appropriate and appropriating theory you don't need a metaphysics to explain your physics. In my view we don't need a metaphysics to explain Relativity. But we still need a metaphysics to explain Quantum Mechanics. And that says something.

    In games, any game, when you have strategies and tactics, and then you have a calculus to help you to understand your strategies and tactics, and you also have models to help you show your strategy and tactics, and then you develop a theory to incorporate your calculus and models, you have accomplished a strategy of strategies; in other words a meta-strategy. When you have an appropriate and appropriating theory of your strategy and tactics you don't need a metastrategy.

    How you learn and implement your theory, is the harder question and that is where the concept of meta-strategies may come in.

    A Personal Reason for being non-Meta
    As far as "metacognition" I think this is a needed concept. Why? Because we don't have "a General Theory of Cognition." We only have bits and pieces and good intuitions and guesses. In other words we need the term metacogniton, precisely because we don't have a theory.

    The reason I don't like the word. I have some very successful friends from High School and college who became comedy writers for shows most of you have watched. They used to talk about the power of meta-comedy. I had a feel for this idea but in fact I liked my comedy a little less meta... The Marx Brothers for example... On the other hand Abbot and Costello's Who's On First, one of the greatest comedy routines of all time, maybe very "meta".

    These debates about "meta-comedy" brought me to distance myself from the use of the prefix "meta"
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    @colldav , you ask questions that I have to think about longer.

    It is a harder question to understand how we our our non-game knowledge of theories, probability, etc;

    It is harder to think about to what extent a late starter is capped;

    It is what is harder for me to explain jigsaw like in how we gain knowledge and what is more modular... and may I say more Kantian....

    It may sound strange to you but Hume, Kant, and Bertrand Russell are my ground for thinking about these psychological subjects; especially when thinking about the human limits of rationality and knowledge. (Also Adam Smith but he is so covered with myth that people don't actually read him as a philosopher concerned with these topics. Smith would agree with Tversky & Kahneman more than with the rational Homo economicus of neo-classical economics .)
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,842 ✭✭✭✭✭
    colldav wrote: »
    The nit sees you value betting the calling station, and it justifies their overfolding. The calling station sees you bluffing the nit, and it justifies their excessive calling.

    Nice, eh?

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