Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Human Cost of Opportunity Cost

Bottles of piss from poker players
Stay hydrated, my friends.


Pro poker players tend to be a big fan of the concept of "opportunity cost", which is defined by dictionary.com as:

"The money or other benefits lost when pursuing a particular course of action instead of a mutually-exclusive alternative."

Let me translate it to the definition as defined by poker players:

"The money lost when mowing your own lawn or otherwise engaging in unnecessary, menial activities that are beneath you when you could be slaving away at your computer and pissing into an empty coke bottle."

There is a problem here. 

Although the concept is essentially true, it can be used to justify basically whatever you are too lazy to do, while also being cherry-picked to a greater degree than the King James bible.

How so? Well, ask yourself which of these you would pay for in terms of opportunity cost:

Put a figurative check-mark next to all that apply.

1. De-cluttering your garage.
2. Renting the private room in a club with premium bottle service.
3. Assembling your new computer desk.
4. Sleeping until 3:00 PM.
5. Playing video games for 6 hours straight.
6. Trimming your bushes and cleaning up the debris.


These all have something in common: each one is costing you money in terms of opportunity cost, yet options #2, #4, and #5 are completely frivolous.

I should know.

Other paying someone to set up my desk or renting out a private room in a club (however, I once did pick up a $70 bar tab for four previous co-workers to feel cool, which is a super douchebag move), I have done all these things. One could point out that perhaps the trip to the club wasn't during play time, but the resulting hangover and inevitable next-day sluggishness is inarguably cutting into your profits.

I can't remember the guy who did this, but there was a tourney pro who boasted of being so lazy that he offered his two roommates 1% of his action in a high stakes tourney to assemble his new computer desk. Apparently, he hadn't completely thought it through, because he went on to bink it for $400k and had to pay out $8,000 for a $10 job. He laughed at the notion in a post-tourney interview, but I'm sure that he now cringes whenever he thinks of it.

For my own part, about two years ago, I hired a guy I found on Craigslist to mow my lawn once a week. It cost me $I5 each time, but I always tossed in an extra $3 as a tip. I did this because I convinced myself that the "opportunity cost" of doing it myself was too high to justify doing it because I would be passing up on more valuable time at the poker tables. Besides, we had a really shitty mower that rattled around, wasn't adjustable enough to cut as low as I preferred, and was too small to have the weight needed to keep it moving in a straight line while passing over uneven terrain. I did want a new one, but my little Hyundai Elantra wasn't large enough to fit one. Thus, the "opportunity cost" of scheduling a convenient time for my good buddy Travis to help me move one in his much larger SUV was simply too much of a burden.

Really, I was just lying to myself. The times when I would be available to do it are times that I would never normally be playing poker, like right after dinner. It also turns out that unlike what I had convinced myself, I actually could fit a new mower in the backseat of my car, because [feigning shock] they came in boxes, not fully assembled like the display at Home Depot. Who knew?!

The fact was that I just didn't want to do it.

I can't remember what spurned it- perhaps I got tired of paying or could no longer afford to have it mowed for me, so I sucked it up, pulled out the wallet and got a new mower. I put it together myself (which took about 5 minutes), filled it up with gas, and got to work with it. Once I was done, sweaty and reeking of gasoline and chopped onions*, I looked back over my work and felt something completely unexpected. It was pride in my home, a connection to my fellow man, and a sensation of masculinity.

Yes, you read that correctly. Sociologists be damned, a man's need to FEEL like a man is in his DNA, and despite how "cool" you think it might feel to play poker for a living, any activity that has you sitting on your ass for hours on end for a paycheck will inevitably strip away this feeling that is essential to your overall well-being. Tilt-punching your desk and putting holes in the drywall while getting bruised and bloody knuckles is NOT a suitable replacement.

More surprising than the initial sensation itself is the fact that this event happened over 3 years ago, yet that feeling still hasn't diminished one single bit. Though I realize it sounds silly, my lawnmower is still one of my most beloved possessions and I still get a quick thrill whenever I give that initial yank on the cord to start it up.

Like it or not, your days as a poker player will end at some point. If you have simply been throwing your money at all your problems or anything that inconveniences you, not only will you have nothing of value to put on your resume, you will have a complete lack of skills concerning anything essential to your survival out in the real world. Just get out of bed, drop the attitude, and make your mama proud.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention...keep the piss bottle handy. The cost of sitting out and flying down the hall with your dick spraying everywhere is the only thing you really have to worry about ;)


*Green onions grow wild on a lot of patches of grass in Louisville and therefore the scent is usually associated with cut grass and summer.

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