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November 20, 2012



Bridge has its own lessons for the brittleness of intimate co-operation too. I understand that divorces have been been triggered by bad bridge plays.


Poker isn't any more individualist than stock market trading, an area with a much more obvious link to commercial banking. Maybe this is why the UK government seems to keen to keep investment and commercial banking apart?

In my experience poker doesn't especially make you inclined to use its self-serving frameworks in the outside world. But it's almost impossible to play for any length of time without experiencing contempt for humanity. 95% of players think they're far, far better at it than they are- the propensity to attribute winnings to skill and losses to luck is remarkable. In no other game do you hear players insist that the reason they couldn't win was because their opponents were "too bad" (and thus kept calling when they 'should' have folded). If poker players seem like assholes- and they do, as a short visit to two plus two will confirm- it's because that's what they're used to dealing with.


There is a point in poker where mutual trust is rewarding. Near the end of the game (in tournament poker), where all players are cashing, an 'all-in' from a short-stack (a player with only a few chips left) is often called by many other players 'behind' (acting after) the short-stack. These players then often check through their hands - i.e they make no aggressive moves to win the pot. The point of this is to increase the chances of the short-stack being knocked out resulting in the remaining players being ranked one place higher in the final results.

The reason co-operative behaviour occurs at these late stages of the game stems from the large increase in prizes in line with ranking. There's a life changing difference in earnings between finishing 8th and 4th out of a few thousand players.

Sorry for the poker terminology but the basic point is that where trust leads to a significant increase in real cash returns poker players will co-operate. (What I describe here is not classified as collusion). Poker players will trust when it pays.

I think businesses operate in a similar way. That is they co-operate to ensure the demise of minor competitors whilst competing for the larger share of the market.

I've only played poker against Victoria Coren once.

She was extremely well stacked and she beat me. :o|


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Ah Chris, I'd wager you share my appreciation of Ms Coren/ Mrs Mitchell. An intelligent buxom blonde who (despite my political leanings) has an alluring RP accent.

Sadly not all eccentric gadflys can bag women with the success of Mitchell and Brooker, but-on a slightly more serious note, and despite the appeal of their smarts- I really do just objectify them and don't really want a relationship.


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