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Why Players make irrational financial decisions.


By the end of this post, you'll have a better understanding of some of the anomalies (that's an S.A.T. bonus word) that Sklansky's Theory of Poker and Doyle's Super System have failed to explain. Warning: If you are over forty, please leave this blog because---The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off.

Poker witho
ut money is an opinion. I got my hunting license--I am the sharpshooter that comes down from the hill after the battle to shoot the wounded, in this case, the dead. I'll give it my best shot.

A is for Aces-- You(th) says
“I want something new everyday.” and “I want to be surprised”. You(th) says, I'll play 3,4 suited , spot him the nuts and suck out.

Brunson may be the Godfather of Poker , keeping his friends close and his enemies closer, but Peter Eastgate, is The Geekfather, through the numbness of numbers, Peter picked up the pieces of everyone else's mathematical dust, connected the dots and won the WSOP main event.

YOU(th) sees that scared money is a misuse of imagination. You(th) hears the internet stutter of brick and mortar ABC players. You(th) feels that playing with more luck and less skill, is almost the right way to play NLH and (almost) the right way to play is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Eastgate didn't just bring math to the game, he brought strategy, getting others to play with the cards he mentally deal
t them. I like to call Eastgate's style of play, "Boiling the frog" In this case, infinite patience brought immediate results for Mr. Science.

The Geekfather knew that from his online experience--things don't even out with time, the even out with the number hands you have played. I'll get to Dennis Philips in a moment, the way he played Doyle's favorite hand "AK because it is so easy to throw away"....which is what Phillips did to cost him the championship,
essentially crippling himself when he drew air on the flop and made a continuation bet only to be re raised with a bluff from Demidov, The Mini-Geekfather, shipping a huge stack of chips to the Russian.

Final Table-ist Scott M
ontgomery played Tom Dwan's version of New (North) Americon Geekfather Poker Club: Ba da bing ba da boom. He dared to be naive

We'll call it New (North)American Geekfather Poker because the word F_ck was taken.. Geekfather poker is anything You(th) could get away with!

If practice makes perfect, and nobody's perfect, then why practice? There is absolutely no substitute in NLH (No Limit Holdem) than for a genuine lack of preparation.

Geekfather Poker is not a "A-ha" experience, it is more of a "holy-shit" experience. Montgomery was no miraculous exception

Calling poker a sport is like calling bald a hair color. Montgomery's style of play is not a game, it's a concussion! In fact, the bad beats Scott gave his opponents left them with no other option but The Big "Oh Well" Shrug a WTF, "That's Poker"; and "It's only a game", the lesser known, "I don't have a dream" speech.

Most Geeks like Scott, are experience rich and technique poor. Home isn't where their heart is, it's where their computer is; Multi tabling at Pokerstars and FullTilt.

Without an Internet connection, it's (like) having a seizure or a mild stroke--Online poker makes You(th) more.

Something inc
redible happens with the availability 24/7 of online poker and the ubiquitous exposure of WPT, GSN and WSOP ESPN coverage: Poker is never put down — is always on, always reliably available. SHIFT happens---A collection of situations you haven't played yet; of the things you don't know. there is a massive collection of unknowledge, the anti-hands that contain all the hands that may still change your poker life.

The secret of staying poker-young isn't lying about your age, it's havng bandwidth-, an internet connection and using online gaming sites. It brings a 10x exponential edge to the nth degree to a live game.

B is for Cajones--Take em out of your purse or grow a set.

Godfathers Raise ATC (any two cards) only to be re-raised by Geekfathers also holding a range of hands from 88 to A 10, only to be re-shoved back over the top of them by uber Geeks.That’s
The Power Of New Americon Poker—the language of betting, a slang that rolls up its sleeves, spits in the street, screams strength possibly more than any other and gets the work done. Tells Don’t Tell – Geekfather's Do with the language of their betting. And it's not really in the DNA of ABC players to really do business with the Geekfather's. Live Cash game specialists speak with a internet stutter.

The first Rule About New Americon Geeklfather Poker Club, Don't talk about New Americon Poker Club. The second rule, tip your dealer, the third:The surest way to win a huge pot in NLH is to spot'em the nuts and suck out! When this happens: Hate the win, not the winner. I call this, Making the right mistake! The number one thingw e hate about the game we love--NL Holdem.

Playing 'in the dark': betting that Godfather's DON'T have the cards rather than that they do is a strategy, not THE strategy. That's Durr's Zero Gravity thinking.Creating rather than responding has less to do with originality and more to do with the unexpected.

An Aggressive game is a game of strategy and deception. A passive game is one where money flows from bad to good players. A loose game is a game of money and odds; a tight one is a battle for the antes. This is all just karaoke Poker, a cheap imitation of Stu Unger.

It was Ready, Fire, Aim---unloading three bullets--- flop, turn AND river, into a pot, holding Squadush-"nothing".The Stu Unger three-barrel bluff worked throughout Scott's tournament

C is for Card Lust---It's about the juice,where people and bits of information meet.

Poker is a game of situations, like milk, with an expiration date stamped right on the carton. There are no perfect strategies. Poker history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme!

It's not so much about "counting your outs" and "folding AK in a raise, re-raised pot"-- that cause-effect relationship stuff. It's more about the anti-poker game--situations. A collection of situations you haven't played yet; of the things you don't know. there is a massive collection of unknowledge,the anti-hands that contain all the hands that may still change your poker life.

This is the wake up call for ABC Phil's, the by-the- book players. The so-called new ways to play holdem are the old ones heated up in a microwave for 15 seconds. You see, Poker Doesn't think. It is an infinite game;the overall phenomenon of NLH has no end. It is always a frontier, always on the edge.

Everything we think we know about tournament poker is changing, so we really know nothing.

The Power of New Americon Poker is about being the last in the pot. It too can be an extremely effective way of accumulating chips in spite of your hole cards, not because of them.

  • First in vigorish is Dan Harrington’s concept. Being the first player to bet, "creates" the edge of being the first to put your chips into the middle of a pot. OK.
  • Sklansky’s old school calls it The Gap Concept ---“you need a better hand to call a raise with than you would need to open the betting yourself”. Sure.
Poker is a game of partial information and the language of betting "last in" is information dominance.Making a bet that leaves no option available to the opponent other than to call is asymmetrical warfare. It disarms their can of whoop ass-- deep stack arsenal. Hands which are ok to try and re-steal from a loose aggressive player are frequently horrible hands to call that final bet with. No one likes calling big all-ins with hands like 88 or A-10 regardless of how sure they are that a player is stealing from them.



D is For Domination-the power of mind over money

What America does best is produce the ability to accept failure. There's no limit like no limit. Basically, the 2008 WSOP opponents could be divided into two types ---those that played like Sklansky, Gordon, and Harrington, and those that didn't. Guess who did the dividing? This year, it was the "foreign" players, ThePeter Eastgate's and Ivan Demidov's.

Some were good at living through these three things, even if it killed them:
M Factor---there is no survival stage.
Gap Concept---your cards are immaterial more often than not.
First In--- hands of value are based on 1-2-3-
1.Your position,
2. The players you are confronting
3, Your Chip Stack

First in Redux---Last is the new first

First in the pot is the old school idea of taking pots down pre-flop or pre-turn using stack pressure. Especially when a tournament is in the money stage. Today, Playahs may go into the game with a larger bank and better cards (Dennis Phillips AK against Ivan Demidov's AQ), they will lose in the long run to the Ballas, who are last in. Ivan put the commitment back on Phillips with a peflop AK raise by Dennis, with a reraise with AQ-and Dennis folded. he couldn't seem to get traction, to get his Geek on--Yielding to the advice of his Coach and the four month layoff, thinking "When you don't have good cards, somebody else probably does"...and fold AK, Doyle's favorite because it's the easiest hand to get away from.

Gain insight into some of the underlying reasons and biases that cause some players (Including yours truely) to behave irrationally (and often against our best interests). This new found knowledge will give you an edge when it comes to making poker financial decisions.


When you ASSuME you make an ASS out of U and ME--One of the most basic instincts is the assumption that players are rational "Moneymakers" who seek to increase life, liberty and the pursuit of a fast buck. Adam Smith's "rational self interest" , the grip of the invisable hand isn't so tight, because it leaves out emotions and other extraneous factors, when it comes to making economic choices.

Reality at the poker table is a collective hunch where motion creates emotion.Poker
plays, not like a sport, but a concussion. In a New York minute, an ACME anvil pancakes you, and then a split second later, you’re expanded - accordion-style - back to normal, like some tempurpedic mattress. It’s a formula of ins and outs, need and speed, aggravation and acceleration

The "Rational self interest" assumption doesn't reflect how people behave in the real world. The fact is people frequently behave irrationally. It's called tilt.Everyday Players enjoy the risk associated with winning; and are for the most part, risk averse--they don't want to lose---and when they do, you can be sure TILT is not far behind.
Our brain is the most powerful computer. When on tilt, our brain is the most powerful broken computer . Tilt makes us sub-optimal for evaluating rewards, sizing up risks and calculating probabilities. Your brain on poker and decision: Your bankroll increases when the LEFT brain gets good at telling the RIGHT brain what to do. How does it help to know that you're literally "of two minds"? The Limbic RIGHT and Analytic LEFT.

Consider how many people buy in to the WSOP at 10Kin the hope of making the final table From a purely logical standpoint, it does not make sense to play the tournament when the odds of winning are overwhelming against the player. Despite this, thousand of people buy in, turning the Wimbledon of Poker into a carnival game, The Powerball of Poker.

When faced with a decision,
if a player is given two equal choices, one expressed in terms of possible gains and the other in possible losses, people would choose the gain alomost every time. The average Joe can't make lay downs. If he has trips or top two pair, and there is a flush or a straight on the board. His money is going in, and you'll get payed off. This is considered "lose averse" not "risk averse". Since gambling is risky behavior and everybody is there to gamble. I like to call this Stone Age Poker.

I am about to go against my mantra "Don't tap the aquarium" !

A fish is the last to know it is in the water, and there is a greatpoker shift
coming that is seperating the fish from the sea.

The biology of fear for Homo Economicus is about running away from saber tooth tigers, and trying to live past your twentieth birthday. That impulse to avoid lose is so strong.There is a little piece of neanderthal in everyone's game that responds primitively to certain poker situations.

Caveman Fred has been hard-wired by evolution to have a malignant optimism and bullish outlook on things. Fred suffers from an incorrect interpretation of statistics (Gamblers Fallacy). Fred also has an irrational tendency to be less willing to gamble with profits than with losses (lose-averse) and even experiences more pain with a lose than pleasure from a gain (Prospect Theory); choosing a small reward that arrives soon as opposed to a larger reward that arrives later (risk-averse). The future is uncertain.Why wait?

Under the influence of powerful Flintstone emotions and drives, players often end up doing the opposite of what they think is best for themselves, even at the moment of acting. No matter how much we evolve as players, we're still capable of going "Yabadabadoo"!

Put pressure on our Fred —and he responds -- with a rush of adrenaline and the urge to fight or flee. Those survival impulses are hardwired into the oldest layers of all of our brains. Emotions like these can damage our game not to mention devastate our bankroll . When we give in to our old-brain reflexes, we'll probably regret it.

When we feel under attack, we experience a visceral response that may lead us down the primitive path. If we feel shamed, we may withdraw, like the caveman taking flight.(fold) If we feel angry, we might lash out and fight.(Call/Go over the top all-in with marginal holdings).

All behavioral biases have some evolutionary reasons for existing and it's very tough to overcome those deep-rooted impulses! So here’s the Neural Poker Challange--- we have two systems for reacting to risk–a primitive intuitive system and a more advanced analytic system–and they’re operating in parallel. And it’s hard for the neocortex to contradict the amygdala.

Bamm! Bamm! Beat- you -over -the- head- with -a -club- smash-mouth poker is motivated by "red" emotions -- anger, fear, greed – and by "green" ones --confidence and enthusiasm. Its not a question of if, but when, will our greens and reds light up our game.

The empathy gap is the difference between how we behave in "hot'' states---those of anxiety, courage, fear; and ''cold'' states of even-keeled calm. Our empathy gap impacts our thoughts and behaviors to the point where we cannot seem to predict how we will behave in a hot state when we are in a cold state.

Putting the Odds back into the God(fathers)

You're feeling on edge, but is the fear nothing to fear but devolutionary fear itself? Have you felt this way before? How intense is the feeling? Understanding the f.e.a.r., the false information appearing as real. It is key to getting control. After all, nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists, Herein lies the peace of God

Identify the cause of the feeling. What is the source of it? Trace the feeling back to its source. Explore a way out by feeling the fear and doing anyway---that's where your game expands

I dared to do something different and my poker game grew larger. For me, it was Monday's Fulltilt- Stu Unger- three -barrel- stone -cold bluff I pulled off. It was energizing, a peak experiences much like I had as a track athlete at Comsewogue High School.

I lose money frequently, but in small amounts, and make money rarely, but in large amounts. I am a crisis hunter. You can't avoid crisis in NLH, you must be in a perpetual one that you create. Get lucky or bluff was the selective aggression I used, and poker rewards not only infinite patience, but selective aggression.

Give Yourself A Poker Lobotomy

It's not so much about "counting your outs" and "folding AK in a raise, re-raised pot"-- that cause-effect relationship stuff. It's more about the anti-neuro-poker game--situations. A collection of situations you haven't played yet; of the things you don't know. there is a massive collection of unknowledge,the anti-hands that contain all the hands that may still change your poker life.

The Sex Of Poker logic makes what you don't know far more relevant than what you do know. I considered that many of my Jackpots and big hands were caused and accelerated by their being unexpected.---of me being an anti-gambler. The upshot is that:knowledge leads to action but lack of knowledge can also lead to action.

The “Open Source” world that everybody is smarter than anybody, this is the NEW Herd mentality. WSOP Survivorship Bias-We see the winners who cash and learn from them, while forgetting the huge unseen herd of railbirds -losers. who were making all the right mistakes.

A poker game is not static. It's a dynamic, living organism that changes from moment to moment. You have to respond to those changes. You have to be the change you want to see . . In the RW(Real World) change is seen as some “thing” built to last. Would you rather have a TEMPORARY change to your game that lasts as long as it is useful, or rather a LASTING change that continues to last far beyond any limits of usefulness.

Players underestimate, on average, the probability and impact of improbable events. Going completely broke is consistently unexpected, but highly likelyin cash games. Buying into a poker game , unlike buying a car, is a gamble that the future will represent an improved version of the past. And who knows whether that will be true?

Nevertheless, when it comes to NLH, what you don’t know is far more relevant than what you do know. Consider that many huge hands can be caused and sped up by their being unexpected, that case eight on the river for a suck out, a four card flush free roll. That is why after rerading Doyle and Sklansky's books, I became more and more aware of the shortcomings in these conventional "systemns" and Theories as they relate to people's poker behaviors.

The Winner's Curse

Hate the win, not the winner, the game , not the player.
Short-term winners believe they are good players, and thus don't make changes the anticipation of consequences---this type of behavior has consequences-Nothing fails like success. A broken clock is right twice a day---and because of the huge luck factor in poker, you can win lots of pots(not always chips).

Where Attention Goes, Chips Flow-- When bad things happen to nice starting hands.

My mental accounting anchor of AJ=Bad Beat. Under mental accounting, I live a personal "storyline " concerning my history with each an every AJ I have ever played , not unlike having a personal Monica relationship with each AJ because I cannot get it through my thick skull that the loses-they are imaginary. It is not about winning or losing. It is about exceling.

A behavioral game theory approach realizes that anyone can get lucky 100% of the time, and, more than that, realize that, good play will have bad beats.

Behavioral Game theory is the more ‘down-to-earth’ approach dealing with one case at a time, especially when Lift Ticket plays with ATC, any two cards- if they don’t know what they’re doing how can you!

The hand that has the highest potential must be a hand that gets played in different ways and in different situations. It's going to be somewhere between the hands that are rarely folded, and the hands that are rarely played. Ace Jack Heads Up is almost never folded before the flop, so we know AJ cannot be the most profitable hand. So keep that in perspective.

Time without attention is worthless, so value attention over time. Therefore: Stop Waiting For “Better Spots” To Get Your Money In! Pick a favorite hand--commit your attention to it and play it strong.

If you don’t have attention, you don’t have time, and if you don't have time-er, well time is money. Can't play poker without money.

Joe plays when he "feels" like it, a Pro, all the time! Call them perpetual shortcuts JOES make when losing poker ASAP; and as any of the PROS will tell you, they don't need cards to win--that's for amateurs. Pro Players specialize in other people's biases! especially that malignant optimistic one that beats its chest and says, "I'm the best player at the table".

Secrets to Beating America's 92 Million Irrational Poker Players:Behavioral Finance-Part ART Part SCIENCE:
Common sense is not so common, and these common flaws are often consistent, predictable, and can be exploited for profit. We are not logical, we are emotional, and motion creates emotion-winning and losing in the stock market or in poker have some suprising failings--Let's reframe them and call them OUTCOMES:
Illusion of control - the tendency for players to believe they can control or at least influence outcomes which they clearly cannot. NLH is 100% luck and 100% chance. An opponent can (suck out) win one hand 100% of the time. NLH is too random to be left up to chance-yet good results will have you rejecting alternative ways to play--Nothing fails like success. Doing things right the first time is an obscenity--If your game isn't broke, don't just break it, break it before the competition does.
Loss aversion - The pain of chips lost generally is much greater than the pleasure of a chips gained. Players strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains ( Quit early when winning and playing marathon sessions when stuck or chasing---see also sunk cost effects.
To win money over the long haul, you’ve got to win big pots. And to win big pots, you can’t be held back by this thinking error. You can't play a safe tight- is -right solid game and expect to win. You can't avoid crisis, you must be in a perpetual one that you create...but selectively picking your spots). too much respect for chips (money) makes you a bad NLH player.
Bias blind spot - The left side of the brain will do the math. But the right side will "tag" it with a story. That story usually doesn't compensate for one’s own cognitive biases. The grip of the invisable hand of Poker capitalism is creative destruction. You gotta perpetually blow your whole game up, shift gears, and take a wrecking ball tothe Winners curse, After all, Few teams win back to back championships because nothing fails like succcess.
Choice-supportive bias - It's called "anchoring" remember one’s choices as better than they actually were. (Using the past to predict the future). There is never a certain prescribed way to play a hand, just a way to think about them. I've had racks of chips only to be felted 14 hours later because instead of an attitude of gratitude, I had the Mick Jaggar Tumbling Dice "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing"soundtrack playing.
Endowment effect - When I own something, I will tend to value it more highly. If I have to sell it, I will probably want to ask more than it is really worth. (Not being able to let go of QQ,AA,KK---rookie moves, and over betting the pot) There's the expected result, based on analysis, and the actual result, based on events. Poker is a game of situations---I've learned to thrown away Kings, Queens, and with a four card flush on the board, even two red Aces!
Confirmation bias - The Indians Rain Dance worked because they never stopped dancing! The Jeane Dixon effect-of making a few right predictions, and overlooking the false ones. Searching for information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions. The delusions of reference--tells, lucky charms, hunches and coincidences.
Bandwagon effect - Do things because smart money people do or believe the same, like playing Helmeuth starting hands, or walking the painted line of Sklansky's Theory of Poker or Doyle's Super System. Related to groupthink, herd behaviour. That's what I find so cool about my game--being able to fire three barrels with squadush. (Thank you Poker Stars Sit and Go's)
Déformation professionnelle - the tendency to look at things according to the conventions of one’s own T.O.E., time on earth; assuming things that have similar traits are likely to be identical; forgetting any broader point of view. Past experience and feedback loops can make you Hola Lupe.
Disconfirmation bias -. We tend to use the information that is most handy when we make decisions/predictions. The path of least resistence mashed up with thin slicing.
Focusing effect - prediction bias occurring when players place too much importance on one aspect of an event; causes error in accurately predicting the utility of a future outcome.
Hyperbolic discounting - the tendency for players to have a stronger preference for more immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs, the closer to the present both payoffs are.
Impact bias -Our minds are suited for solving problems related to our survival, rather than being optimised for poker decisions. Players overestimate the length or the intensity of the impact of future feeling states.
Information bias - Seeking TMI, too much information, even when it cannot affect action. Try playing in the dark, or blind---With less information to be processed and filtered, the brain assigns higher priority to the information that it does receive.
Neglect of probability - the tendency to completely disregard probability when making a decision under uncertainty. Expected Value and Variance---weighing all the possible outcomes, weighting the more likely outcomes, and coming to a conclusion---play a big part in the decision process. There is therefore, never a certain prescribed way to play a hand, just a way to think about them.
Mere exposure effect - the tendency for players to express undue liking for things merely because they are familiar with them. If it's not broke, break it!
Omission bias - The tendency to judge harmful actions as worse, or less moral, than equally harmful omissions (inactions).
Outcome bias - the tendency to judge things on their outcome, and not on their process. Over weighing and overeacting to a bad beat-- the most recent information or circumstances.
Planning fallacy - the tendency to underestimate task-completion times. It has taken me ten years to become an overnight Holdem success!
Post-purchase rationalization - the tendency to persuade oneself through rational argument that a purchase was a good value.
Pseudocertainty effect - the tendency to make risk-averse choices if the expected outcome is positive, but make risk-seeking choices to avoid negative outcomes.
Selective perception - the tendency for expectations to affect perception. (Gamblers Fallacy)
Status quo bias - the tendency for players to like things to stay relatively the same.
Von Restorff effect - Purple Cows and items that “stands out like a sore thumb” have a tendency to be more likely to be remembered than other items.
Zero-risk bias - preference for reducing a small risk to zero over a greater reduction in a larger risk.





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