Monday, November 4, 2013

Reference Groups and Happiness- A Blog Post I Almost Wrote

Bellarmine University baseball team 1999 photo
Luckily for Bellarmine University freshman girls, this sleazy douchebag was on the road every weekend after January.

I can not emphasize how much I loved this article, which is part of the November issue of the Two Plus Two Magazine.  It was something that I had actually been wanting to write for a long time, yet now it's unnecessary because Mr. Newall already did it, and plagiarized my thoughts almost word for word!

This article paraphrases a discussion that I have had many times with players, almost exclusively with students who have not yet had their first taste of what a poker pro would "success", as in, they are finally now a pro, not just a good amateur.  Most are under the impression that if they can list "Pro Poker Player" on their resume or make $x/hr they will find their happiness within this game.  As Mr. Newall will explain, this happiness is not static, but rather, more like a Sword of Damocles dangling over your head at all times.  

Before letting you get on with the article, I might perhaps better be able to explain the concept with a simple anecdote concerning a discussion I had a few years back with an older guy who is a friend of mine about playing college baseball.  As you may know by now, I did play 2 years at Bellarmine University with a small scholarship, which was a huge goal all throughout high school in Massachusetts, where scholarships for ball players were very rare unless you played Division I or went out of New England.  However, I underwent some technical and psychological hurdles in my performance en route to college which led to being a much inferior player than I had been previously, and thus, was in the bottom tier of talent amongst my new teammates.  My friend was in a similar situation, except that he didn't get a scholarship, he made his college team as a walk-on in tryouts.  So after chatting about our respective roles on our teams for a bit, I put a simple question to him that should bring this concept to light:

"Which would you prefer: getting cut from the team during tryouts or being the worst player on your team?", to which he said without a thought, "Getting cut."


Friday, November 1, 2013

Jungleman12 vs. PokerSnowie Heads Up Challenge

Dan Cates challenging PokerSnowie AI
The opportunity cost of making this short video is measured in the $1,000's.

I just saw this video on and got really excited. My friend Bob seems to work this program into every conversation we have had the past four days, and even though my free trial bombed out several times a few months ago and caused me to move my attention elsewhere, I'm eager to try it again. Although I'm still unclear (although perhaps by reading the documentation I will understand more fully) how game theory optimal [GTO] ranges have been derived for a variety of different cash game formats, this new challenge that PokerSnowie is promoting shows an unprecedented amount of confidence in their program, which in my opinion is probably a -EV decision, but impressive nonetheless. 

As a quick aside, to show why I think this is -EV, a similar semi-public issue came up over a year ago in which a transcript of a chat box conversation between Daniel Negreanu and Matt Marafioti surfaced in which an obviously tilted or drunk Marafioti challenged Negreanu to a heads up $200/$400 match.  Rather than take the challenge, Negreanu just decided to needle him by saying stuff like "lol, you so baller!".  At the time i thought that Negreanu was just chickening out, but a day later I realized that this was a wise move on his part since the money he stood to gain was insignificant, but yet he would face an abundance of scrutiny for his decisions and face an undue amount of criticism for losing, which makes no sense because even if he had a 70/30 advantage on Marafioti (not possible IMO) he is still losing his fair share. The end result is that Marafioti was on a total freeroll- the masses expect him to lose so it's quickly forgotten, winning means an excess of unwarranted media attention.

Matt Marafioti shirtless with two black eyes
"Take your best shot, have everything to lose."