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The Dopamine Power Diet—In Search of the “All-In” Button

"I' ll take things that I know for $1,000 Alex!

NLH has the short-term effect of windfalls of buckets of luck. That generates a roller coaster ride of greed, invincibility and fantasy ---a flood of dopamine that signals to our bodies that something good has happened. It’s not the win, but the suggestion of it that generates pleasure in the brain, rewards anticipation. Now, for the first time, you can actually get inside the black box, when your game crashes with Neuroeconomics--making "emotional" decisions and their economic sigificance. Brain scientists , who with Hotel Anyware's help, will be the writing the new Super System and (behavioral)Theory of Poker.

Chapter One Teaser: AN I for an I , 'See it with your mind's eye.' is so pre Twin Towers 9/11. Reif shows us that our mind is our eye.What we think is what we see, and what we see directs how we act. Not only does the authors make this paradigm clear, but Ed offers concrete and practical ways to change our mind's eye and as a consequence change our actions and the results we get. A miracle is a shift in thinking and shifting our thinking opens new opportunities. the gift of connecting to the field of awareness that exists within each playah. When your LEFT Brain gets good at telling the RIGHT brain what to do--the power of now+new,1+1=infinity...because after all, Poker is situational, and a game of partial information, too random to be left up to chance. The conceit of our Joes— is to see Order in chaos. The anticipation of consequences by Pros, is to pounce on this weakness.

Shift Happens

When your third eye and your turd eye are at one—you start to believe your own sh*
t, hooked on the belief that you are about to make mo’ money. This creates a midbrain mutiny between dopamine and serotonin. Like any addict, when the bad beat comes, you will go into a painful withdrawal. I think therefore I am—might need a re-write- I don’t know so maybe I’m not. It’s all chemical!

Thinking and feeling differently about lose-Whatever is going on in you is chemical. What could your neurons "want"? It's enigmatic, but basically they wants a jolt of serotonin, norepinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine. If you can remember--you are never know how you have been, and maintain a malignent optimism, you can live to play another day. The hard thing about this is that it is so easy to do, because feelings are not true, they're feelings...nothing more than feelings.

Poker= f(dopamine flow); Money= happiness

"Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy chips, which is kinda the same thing" Ed Reif, Wise and Otherwise,2007

Money is a means to an end. When you get money, you shouldn't experience immediate happiness. Brain research shows, however, that people get immediate pleasure and pain from winning and losing money.
Keep Dope alive. Play Poker. Go with the flow. Why do you think they call it DOPE-amine?


Dopamine is a swiss army knife that does a lot of jobs, but the thing Mr. Science notices most is that it regulates reward. When you win a hand of poker, it's a dopamine spike that's responsible for the thrill that follows. Drugs, legal and illegal-mimic the actions of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical which makes us feel elated; crystal meth is so addictive because it releases dopamine. More than that, The brain images of drug addicts who are about to take another hit are indistinguishable from those of poker players who are making money and about to play another showdown hand.

The Power Of Impossible Thinking

Getting what you deserve is boring. Having pocket AA, and raking a small pot, just won’t do it. There has to be risk and ambiguity. Don’t you feel more energized when you’re uncertain of the outcome of a hand. When you do a three barrel bluff, don’t you feel more alive, your heart jumping out of your chest, you sweat, your take that dry mouth swallow. I think that a subconscious desire to return to this state affects my game. I bluff too much because I want to experience the feeling I get at these moments…. when you get him to fold top pair, when a scare card is on the turn..This is poker at its finest: If you can think impossible thoughts, you can do impossible things.

If you had a normal “addiction” to, say, crack or sex-there are group therapies for that-but being addicted to “risk” in the poker culture just makes makes you a gambler. Is that so bad, you are wired to invest? Don't they call that arbitrage on Wall Street? Isn't gambling a fundamental brick in the foundation of economic and investment thinking.

Poker points to gambling. Gambling points to math. Math points to risk. Risk points to investing. Investing points to finance; and finance points to economics, and economics points back to gambling.

Cognitive-Enhancing SMART drugs and Poker--the Next Steroids Scandal

So all this stuff about Steroids and baseball, what about brain boosting drugs and poker! I wrote about holdem’s off the wall player, me and my Big (Mike the) Mouth. Mike is America's first self confessed bipolar poker champ – a former speed addict, currently diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, Mike The Corporation is a black market wheeler-dealer, living in the underground economy of CASH. His street cred is good in Vegas--the money faucet runs on tap. He's bankable. Why, because he's now (legally)medicated (zoloft, depakote and ritalin)!

It's one thing to get a natural "runner's high" from the game; but actually ingesting brain-boosting performance inhancing substances to improve your mental focus, memory, recall and reduce fatigue? Wait a minute, where can I get some of those happy pills? It's all legal! Doping in cash and online poker, what's so ethical about this work ethic?

We are all aware that caffine is not a drug, but a vitamin for the long grueling tournament scene. Yet, we would all fail a WADA/IOC-administered drug test based on drinking as little as three cups! Congress is already hearing testimony about the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act. I can see a day when the great poker doping scadal is exposed too!

No worries, they'll be a lot of Doctor's notes, with the ADD boutique diagnoisis, just like getting extra time on your SAT! to "accomodate" your poker (L)earning differences.

Drugs, they're not just for athletes!

And now a PSA: If you're gonna get high, play cards-

"There isn't any question about it -- they made me a much better player," Paul Phillips, 35, who credited the attention deficit drug Adderall and the narcolepsy pill Provigil with helping him earn more than $2.3 million as a poker player. See LATimes article

Mike “The Mouth” Matusow from Stuff Magazine; May, 2006 Life or Meth-
" I began playing at a level I had never played at before. Every time someone played a hand differently than their norm, I sensed it. Every time someone showed a tell, I saw it.” see USA Today article

Mike is Mike, working his mac, a whore with a heart of gold, so no judgments here.

Paul on the other hand, is a GUO, a great unlucky one: in order for Mr Phillips to make a small fortune in poker he needed to have a big one---and Paul is a dotcom gazillionaire to begin with. Too much respect for money makes you a bad poker player-That a makes Phillips a great one: He payed 10K x 26 WPT events-Of course eventually he cashed in some---even a broken clock is right twice. What is it about these faloney's who think they can play poker? Ka-ching.

Read my post on The Godfather of Poker-Doyle did "that thing with the thing bada bing-all-in" to Guy aka Moe Greene:

Doyle Brunson took Cirque du Soleil billionaire Guy Laliberté to clown college on High Stakes Poker---to say it was a circus, would be an insult to the bearded ladies, mimes and interpretive dancers. A moment of silence was in order as Guy was nearly drawing dead.

FREE Roger Clemens...

"As Major League Baseball struggles to rid itself of performance-enhancing drugs, people in a range of other fields are reaching for a variety of prescription pills to enhance what counts most in modern life." It begs the question--why is there no stigma attached to these other pursuits.

A Dose Of Genius-No Brain Is An Island

Poker players drug du jour is Adderall , the active ingredient being dextroamphetamine saccharate. You might recognize the root, amphetamine which is closely related to methamphetamine more commonly known as crystal meth, or speed!

Propanolol is a beta blocker, and epinephrine is a beta agonist. LSAT school test takers, concert musicians are eating them like Gummy Bears to bypass stress and butterflies. Why, to get an edge, a competitive edge. If somebody gave you a designer drug to improve your memory, would you try it? What are neuroethical consequences of brain doping?

The Standard American Diet acronym is S.A.D. --This your brain on french fries! Depressing, huh?


This is your brain on poker..

Know Thy Synaptic Self
Neurons that wire together fire together---Making money and then making money again is our chemical romance; the love drug Dopamine. It produces a “desire to continue”. Congratulations, you are wired to play poker. Happy Valentine’s Day.

What happens in your brain when your expectations are confirmed — or shattered by surprise. It's a steady flow of dopamine that makes the anticipation such a pleasure. Walking the painted line, tolerating low calculated risks, the safe choices,---it is impossible to settle for what everyone else gets---no matter how comfortable that would make you. The extraordinary opportunities lie in the leaps of faith, the uncalculating risks.

We might not realize it, but dopamine is our favorite neurotransmitter. The Sex of Poker reward circuit runs on Dopamine. It makes us pursue whatever we think will be rewarding. Life, liberty and the pursuit of a fast buck. "fits like a glove" with neuroimaging findings of alcoholics, and drug addicts. Let's cast a nice halo around poker, call it Yuppie bulemia, for the three C's: guys with Cash, Condos and Cars.


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