I played cards for a few years, and I quite enjoyed it. I don't play any more, but sometimes a lesson I learned comes back to me.
There's one writer on poker I learned a tremendous amount from. His name's Mike Caro, and he was one of the first people taking serious interest in the psychology of poker. He wrote a famous book called "Mike Caro's Book of Poker Tells", which is excellent and highly recommended. The basic premise is that people act strong when weak and weak when strong. So if you hear a very little sigh when someone is betting, almost like they're sad, then they've probably got a strong hand. If they're pushing the chips forwards with a little extra force when betting, they're probably bluffing.
This was all very fascinating to me, I loved learning that kind of thing. I'd recommend Caro's Book of Tells to anyone, regardless if you play cards or not. But he also has written quite a bit on self-psychology and discipline in poker. Today I recalled one of Caro's general principles:
Caro’s Threshold of Misery suggests that once you move beyond the maximum you expected you could lose, you stop feeling any more pain, and you’re in danger of damaging yourself further by making weak decisions.
I teach that you’re supposed to keep right on playing well, even after you cross that threshold. You’ve got to remind yourself that even though things don’t seem to matter now, there will come a time when they do matter. So, make good decisions. Maybe right now it doesn’t seem to matter a lick whether you lose $4,495 or $4,125, but there will come a time when that $370 matters again. Always play poker as if that time is now. That’s important and I’ll repeat it. There will come a time when that $370 matters again and you should play poker as if that time is now. - Poker1.com
The Threshold of Misery is when things are so bad, you don't care if they get gradually worse. Dangerous place to be.
I overslept twice this morning. I was set up to get up after 4 hours and jump all over the day, but then overslept... when I got up the second time, I was disappointed, I said, "Ah, screw it, I already missed my schedule" - and went back to sleep again. Similar to the threshold of misery. I try to remember - it might not matter now, but it will matter later.
Anyway, I wholeheartedly recommend Caro's Book of Tells - even if you don't play cards, it has huge value for understanding other people and yourself. It's a fast, enjoyable read too. Highly recommended:
I saw the article "Memoirs of a Bullied Kid" on the site Single Dad Laughing. It's written by a guy named Dan Pearce, and he seems like a hell of a guy. He's talking about raising his son, about accepting yourself, dealing with conflict, things like that. Pretty inspirational and good stuff.
The Memoirs of a Bullied Kid article must've taken a lot of guts to write, and I massively respect that. That said, I disagree with his conclusion on how to deal with violent bullies. So I want to send some praise and respect in his direction, but also some significant disagreement.
I originally wrote this as a comment for Hacker News, but it came out to about a normal post's length. Tone is more discussion site level than blog post level, but you'll get the gist of it -
"Son, as soon as someone puts their hands on you..."
This comment will be controversial, especially for North Americans and Western Europeans. I ask you to read it and think about it a moment before reacting, and comment if you disagree. I believe what I'm about to say is true, and I'm not trying to get a rise out of people - I want to fix some problems with society.
In poker there's an ideal called "tight and aggressive". The idea is to play a very small selection of hands, but to then play those hands very aggressively.
You play a small selection because many hands are statistical underdogs no matter how well you play them. You'll get lucky here and there, but in the long run you'll lose money on those hands because they're too weak compared to what others are likely to have.
You play aggressively because you need to extract as much value as possible out of the few hands you play. Besides giving your opponent more opportunities to give up, playing aggressively lets you milk the most out of each hand. You're betting and raising, not checking and calling.
It occurred to me today that, like many things in poker, tight and aggressive is a good parallel to real life. You feel like a champion when you play tight and aggressive in poker, and you also feel that way in real life.