Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

9.20.2010

Seems There's a Metaphor in There Somewhere

I don't play very often, but I enjoy playing Texas Hold'em poker. I've played a few times with friends, but am not into the whole casino scene and big money. A friend who owns a game shop has been hosting free weekly games, and I've been playing there on Sunday nights. There was a twelve week season last winter/spring and another one started a couple of weeks ago. The first game I made the final table out of something like 15 or 16 players and then went out pretty quickly, so I finished in the top half. I knew I'd played much too tentatively and decided to be bolder next time. Yesterday I won out of 21 players. Much of that is due to luck, getting the right cards at the right time, but as someone who is always watching and learning (about everything) I like to think my play had something to do with it as well.

There are different ways to play the game. Many serious players are very mathematical about it, knowing the percentage chances they have of winning each hand based on their cards, the others they can see, and the guesses they make about what everyone else might have. They let the numbers dictate their play, folding often and only putting chips on the line when they have a pretty high chance of success. If they're disciplined and patient, they take few risks and almost always do well. They still don't win without luck, but they'll consistently be some of the last players standing. That's how I played last week. I don't actually memorize or calculate percentages, but I was conservative with my chips and only played when I had cards that seemed worth it.

That's good if your main goal is consistency and the best chance of doing pretty well, but I think it makes the experience less fun and actually decreases your chances of doing really well. If I can afford to stay in I'd rather pay to always see at least some of the community cards even when my hand's no good, because you never know when you might get lucky. I get to be part of the action much more often that way instead of sitting and watching the others after I bow out. And it's riskier because you'll be out much more quickly if you're not getting lucky and winning some, but if you can get good enough at playing the people instead of the percentages it can pay off even more. You have to be willing to bluff and be unpredictable, lose sometimes stupidly, keep them guessing while learning what makes them tick. I'll sometimes go out more quickly than if I was playing conservatively, but more often I do even better if I can loosen up and get more involved in the action. So I not only have more fun, I also tend to do better when I play a riskier, more fully engaged style instead of a reserved, calculated one.

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