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Caro's Threshold of Misery

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.

Retroactive Determinism

Finally got around to Taleb's "Black Swan" on audio. Hadn't gone through it before because the core concept seems pretty obvious and straightforward, but it's actually packed with interesting stuff.

"Retroactive determinism," for instance, was a phrase just tossed out once and thrown away -- but it's a useful addition to a vocabulary.

It describes how things seem obvious in retrospect. You meet someone successful, so you credit their long work hours, or alternatively their laziness which makes them desire to find more efficient ways, their healthy diet, or their laid-back ways without focus on things like that.

Retroactive determinism says that people say things were automatic and obvious afterwards, but oftentimes what they say caused the event -- long hours, or laziness/efficiency combo -- might not be it at all, and probably isn't.

"Black Swan" is good. Recommended.

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