More Poker and Life

January 20, 2008

I play a lot of poker. Not as much as some people that I know, but between playing, reading, thinking, and blogging about poker, I probably spend more time on it than most people spend on their hobbies. After a time, anything that we spend a lot of time on tends to affect our daily life in some manner.

There are direct, conscious connections, like being more aware of considering options before taking action, or getting less emotional when things don’t go the way we hope, or getting better with simple math in our heads or being more disciplined or patient in general.

A few days ago I was heading to work, getting ready to cross a busy (2 lanes both directions) street. There is a crosswalk, but I know that the light takes a long time to start. I was a little ways away yet when the light changed for some other pedestrians who were already at the corner. The traffic coming towards me had stopped for the light, there was one car headed the other direction that had stopped and one more slowing down so I angled my way across the street, went between the two stopped cars and to the corner.

A somewhat shabbily dressed guy started yelling at me; “Hey, you’ve got to cross at the crosswalk. Hey, I’m talking to you”

At first I started to try to explain to him, then considered arguing with him, but he went on “If you get hit, it’s your own fault. I’ve seen three accidents just like that ….”

I considered my options; reasoning, arguing, insulting, but decided to “fold my hand”, gave him a fake “Okay, thanks” and walked away.

The interesting thing was afterwards how much that interaction felt like a poker hand. Like he minraised preflop into my BB with other callers, I caught a piece of the flop and bet out, but he kept insisting that he had a hand.


The subconscious is capable of making all kinds of connections, identifying similarities, and re-interpreting things. For example a lot of dreams get based on one issue or situation that the dream replays but with substitute actors or locations. I think that my subconscious recognised a situation that I’ve faced before. A situation with interaction, a challenge, probably some low levels of aggression, and so it called up my programming for the situation; evaluate the situation, the risk/reward, the options, and a conscious choose to fold.

It’s more common in extreme trauma situations; the rape victim who becomes afraid of any underground parking lot, or the child of an alcoholic abusive parent who becomes afraid of any person who has been drinking.


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