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.
I get an annoying amount of email from people asking me how to gamble like I used to. The truth is that what I used to do isn't profitable anymore. It was a right time, right place sort of scenario. Although I'm not a professional gambler anymore, I have been spending time studying and improving at poker (I'm a break-even or slightly profitable player), and I have friends who are pros. There are surely several different paths you can take to make a living gambling; this is the one that I'm aware of and is feasible for someone of above average intelligence.
Despite offering a rough guide to making money gambling, I don't necessarily recommend that you do so. I gambled professionally for seven years. During that time I made a lot of money and enjoyed my life. One morning I woke up and all of my money was gone. The story behind that is complicated, but the gist is that "they caught on". The strongest emotion I felt was a sense of relief. Gambling is fun, but it's not "big". It doesn't contribute in a meaningful way or leave you with a body of work.
Most casino games have a house advantage ranging from 2-5%, assuming "perfect play". That means that if you play perfectly, you can expect to lose, on average, about 2-5% of the action you put through a machine. Perfect play for slot machines is simply to bet the maximum amount of coins (the jackpot is skewed heavily in favor of maximum coins). For blackjack you need to memorize what to do for every combination of player hands vs. dealer hands, specific to each set of rules (hit on soft 17, resplitting aces, etc).