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Comment author: Nornagest 06 February 2014 12:50:41AM 2 points [-]

Poker and rationality aren't close to excellently correlated. (Poker and math is a stronger bond.) Poker players tend to be very good at probabilities, but their personal lives can show a striking lack of rationality.

Poker teaches only a couple of significant rationality skills (playing according to probabilities even when you don't intuitively want to; beating the sunk-cost fallacy and loss aversion), but it's very good at teaching those if approached with the right mindset. It also gives you a good head for simple probability math, and if played live makes for good training in reading people, but that doesn't convert to fully general rationality skills without some additional work.

I'd call it more a rationality drill than a rationality exercise, but I do see the correlation.

(As qualifications go, I successfully played poker [primarily mid-limit hold 'em] online before it was banned in the States. I've also funded my occasional Vegas trips with live games, although that's like taking candy from a baby as long as you stay sober -- tourists at the low-limit tables are fantastically easy to rip off.)

Comment author: Petruchio 06 February 2014 02:48:23AM *  1 point [-]

Poker also requires the skill of identifying and avoiding tilt, the state of being emotionally charged leading to the sacrifice of good decision-making. A nice look of the baises which need to be reduce to play effective poker can be found at Rationalpoker.com.

I suppose poker is more of a rationality drill than exercise, and just a physicist may be successful in his field while having a broken personal life, so may a poker player fall to the same trap.

Comment author: JRMayne 06 February 2014 12:12:03AM 2 points [-]

Aside: Poker and rationality aren't close to excellently correlated. (Poker and math is a stronger bond.) Poker players tend to be very good at probabilities, but their personal lives can show a striking lack of rationality.

To the point: I don't play poker online because it's illegal in the US. I play live four days a year in Las Vegas. (I did play more in the past.)

I'm significantly up. I am reasonably sure I could make a living wage playing poker professionally. Unfortunately, the benefits package isn't very good, I like my current job, and I am too old to play the 16-hour days of my youth.

General tips: Play a lot. To the extent that you can, keep track of your results. You need surprisingly large sample sizes to determine whether your really a winner unless you have a signature performance. (If you win three 70-person tournaments in a row, you are better than that class of player.) No-limit hold-'em (my game of choice) is a game where you can win or lose based on a luck a lot of the time. Skill will win out over very long periods of time, but don't get too cocky or depressed over a few days' work.

Try to keep track of those things you did that were wrong at the time. If you got all your chips in pre-flop with AA, you were right even if someone else hits something and those chips are now gone. This is the first-order approximation.

Play a lot, and try to get better. If you are regularly losing over a significant period of time, you are doing something wrong. Do not blame the stupid players for making random results. (That is a sign of the permaloser.)

Know the pot math. Know that all money in the pot is the same; your pot-money amount doesn't matter. Determine your goals: Do you want to fish-hunt (find weak games, kill them) or are you playing for some different goal? Maybe it's more fun to play stronger players. Plus, you can better faster against stronger players, if you have enough money.

Finally, don't be a jerk. Poker players are generally decent humans at the table in my experience. Being a jerk is unpleasant, and people will be gunning for you. It is almost always easier to take someone's money when they are not fully focused on beating you. Also, it's nicer. Don't (in live games) slow-roll, give lessons, chirp at people, bark at the dealer, or any of that. Poker is a fun hobby.

Comment author: Petruchio 06 February 2014 02:37:40AM 0 points [-]

Excellent post. Thank you for the detailed response.

Right now, I have been struggling with calculating pot odds and implied odds. I grasp what they are conceptually, but actually calculating them has been a bust thus far. Is there any guidence you could give with this?

As far as legality in the US, I am playing in the state of Delaware with one of thier licensed sites, so I think I am in the clear. The play is very thin though, and I am looking to make my way to the brick and mortars in Alantic City to see if it will be a good sandbox to become better.

Comment author: Petruchio 04 February 2014 11:32:18PM 1 point [-]

My newest interest is to become a winning poker player. I have recently recented advice doing so professionally isn't quite feasible, since the sanity waterline has risen in the online poker world. However, I am not fully discouraged and I wish to pursue the skills needed to become an above average player, if not a professional one. Also, I am considering brick and mortar poker games in addition to online games.

I have been having some trouble calculating pot odds and implied odds. I grasp what they are conceptually, but actually calculating them has been a bust for me. These skills are needed for value betting, and what I have found online so far has been difficult to understand.

Comment author: Tenoke 04 February 2014 11:44:53AM *  9 points [-]

What is your goal? If you want to earn significantly more than (let's say) $20,000 a year then poker is probably not your best bet. I used to play during 2007-2010 and the game were getting progressively tougher (more regulars, less fish), the same way as they had been in the prior few years before I started playing online. I recently checked how things are going and the trend seems to still be in place. Additionally, the segregation of countries in online poker (americans not being able to play with non-americans for example) is making things worse and this is in fact what drove me away mid-2010.

TL;DR You are several years too late to have a decent chance of making good money with poker.

Comment author: Petruchio 04 February 2014 11:08:02PM 2 points [-]

Thank you for the heads up. I'll keep it to more causal play. Do you have any experience to with brick and mortar poker? And what are you doing now if you are no longer (presumably) playing professionally?

Comment author: Metus 04 February 2014 01:06:52AM 2 points [-]

"A community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality"

Of course people will be drawn to this site: Who does not want to be rational? Skimming around the topics we see that people are concerned with how to make more money, calculating probabilities correctly and to formalise decision making processes in general.

Though there is one thing that bothers me. All skills that are discussed are related to abstract concepts, formal systems, math. Or in general things that are done more easily by people scoring high on g-heavy IQ tests. But there is a whole other area of intelligence: Emotional intelligence.

I seldom see discussions relating to emotional intelligence, be it techniques of CBT, empathy or social skills. Sure, there is some, but far less than there is of the other topic. How do I develop empathy? How do I measure EQ? Questions that are not answered by me reading LessWrong.

Comment author: Petruchio 04 February 2014 02:52:48AM 5 points [-]

I agree, there is alot of talk about mathematics and formal systems. There is big love for Epistemic Rationality, and this is shown in the topics below. Some exceptions exist of course, a thread about what type of chair to buy stands out.

But I agree, Emotional Intelligence is a large set of skills underappreciated here, and I admit though I have some knowledge to share on the subject, I do not feel particularly qualified to write a post on it.

Comment author: Petruchio 03 February 2014 06:43:35PM 6 points [-]

I have just started playing poker online. On Less Wrong Discussion, Poker has been called an exercise in instrumental rationality, and a so-called Rationality Dojo was opened via RationalPoker.com. I have perused this site, but it has been dormant since July 2011. Other sources exist, such as 2 + 2, Pokerology and Play Winning Poker, but none of them have the quality of content or style that I have found on Less Wrong. Is anyone here a serious poker player? Is there any advice for someone who wants to become a winning player themselves?

Comment author: VincentYu 01 August 2013 08:28:13PM 7 points [-]

Along the lines of James_Miller's question: Why do people like poetry?

How do I get myself to like poetry? (Reading poetry seems like a cheap and respectable way to spend leisure time, if only it were pleasurable for me!)

Comment author: Petruchio 01 August 2013 09:04:27PM 3 points [-]

Personally, I find it difficult to enjoy "typical" lyrical poetry, but I appreciate epic poetry a great deal more. Epic poetry not only aims to capture the drama of an event, but also to encapsulate an entire culture of a people. The Iliad and the Odyssey were the first two i have read, and they are not only about the Trojan War and the return home of one of its heroes, but it touches on every aspect of Greek society. War, love, food, honor, virtue, cowardice, honoring the gods, pissing off the gods, the gods pissing you off, hospitality, ethics, punishment, the afterlife, nobility and servitude, all touched upon.

For more conventional (and shorter) poetry, some of the enjoyment comes from the prosody and lyrical qualities of the poem. Reading them out loud increases my own enjoyment. Otherwise, there is oft a multitude of "senses" and meanings in poetry, which provides a pleasant meditation. Some quality poems to read (as a start) would be "the Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe, and "Ozymandias" by Percy Shelley

Comment author: Petruchio 01 August 2013 12:38:56PM 4 points [-]

What course of action has MIRI taken to attain a provable FAI?

Comment author: CellBioGuy 26 July 2013 03:35:12AM 9 points [-]

Christmas and Easter both borrow heavily from pre-Christian European traditions. Presumably those threads are carried over even more strongly than in muggle Europe.

Comment author: Petruchio 26 July 2013 05:28:35PM 2 points [-]

That does sounds like a solid theory as to why Wizards celebrate those holidays. I'll update my beliefs with this new evidence.

Comment author: Kindly 25 July 2013 04:32:53PM 3 points [-]

As far as Christmas and Easter goes, the first of these specifically has a non-religious explanation in HPMoR:

The atmosphere at Hogwarts before Yuletide was usually bright and cheerful. The Great Hall had already been decorated in green and red, after a Slytherin and a Gryffindor whose Yule wedding had become a symbol of friendship transcending Houses and allegiances, a tradition almost as ancient as Hogwarts itself and which had even spread to Muggle countries.

No similar explanation has been given for Easter, but I think it's reasonable to suppose that one exists.

Comment author: Petruchio 25 July 2013 05:21:51PM 0 points [-]

I took that passage to indicate the tradition of green and red colors during Christmastide, not of the origination of any holiday,

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