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Old 10-15-2016, 02:12 PM   #1
donkydonky
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Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

It might be time for an update; apparently it's been almost ten years since the previous one.

For now, I'll begin by introducing myself. My name is Olli Mikael Rundgren and I'm currently 34 years old. This is me in EPT Barcelona 2012 [IMG]http://*******/2eDWoUl[/IMG]

It was amazing to get this voice mail by the famous Finnish philosopher from my voice mail where he commented this following text: http://*******/2dWaPnN

I was 24 years old when I wrote my first post on Finnish poker forums, which may have revealed my disappointment and pain, both with my own life and the world of gambling, if one were inclined to read between the lines.

At the time, I wouldn't have believed that the idea of turning aside easy cash;250$/h would attract such interest. Here's the translation and the original: http://*******/2djflpX The second part: http://*******/2dExNKT

In the end, my story amassed over 100 000 reads. It's thought-provoking to return to one's old writings; writings, that, on some levels, reflect my worldview during my twenties. I can now say I was, at least in part, lost in my life.

My decision to give up on the millions that surely awaited me in the world of poker turned out to be one of the most significant events defining my life.

Along the way, there were several times when I questioned the logic behind my decision. Even so, I believe that through endurance, a sum of coincidences and asking the right questions, I've opened up a new world of possibilities. A world where poker credits, even if numbering millions, have little meaning and clink like empty promises.

My long search led me to something beyond amazing. When I decided, almost a decade back, to leave behind the world of games, I never would've thought it'd lead me to a completely new one, playing a game approaching the limits of human comprehension, one that I hadn't even dreamed could exist.

But let's start at the beginning.

Know your game

Playing has been a part of my life since I was a teen. I remember skiving off the last class in upper comprehensive school, pedalling with burning thighs through the flurry of winter on my way to the local youth group. My mind was on the ping-pong table and the long haired leader with the ripped jeans, whose scalp I dreamed of hanging on the wall.

It wasn't until later that I realized my brain was after the dose of dopamine that only a game and the feeling of winning could provide me with.

My youth was spent with sports and chasing after a ball, until my best friend and I discovered Texas Hold 'em in the year 2005, a version of poker provided by some foreign gambling company. This was before the poker boom hit Finland; the concept of a professional poker player was non-existent even in the ethereal realm of thoughts. The beginning was spent merely observing; The whole thing had the stench of a pyramid scheme. The whole concept seemed nonsensical.

Even back then, we were already the epitome of innovative and inventive. It didn't take long for us to realize the perks of the still fledgling Nokia networks. We created extra accounts under the names of our mothers to take advantage of the benefits of playing as a group.

Naturally, we knew this wasn't allowed, but there were endless excuses to hide behind:

”How would they catch you doing this?”

”Who could keep track of something like this?”

”How could someone on the other side of the world know that their opponents were sharing their cards with each other?”

”The competition is on the other side of the ocean! Everyone could be using the same exploit!”

We played Sit & Go's, transferred chips to save each other from losing when possible. Sure, we had one hell of a time and the mood was ecstatic.

The sham added a level of excitement. It was oh so thrilling, with the support squad at our backs cheering us on as we defeated our common foe.

Sometimes the girlfriend of the time would grumble from behind us, with arms crossed; you're going to get caught! It was nothing more than background noise for a group of young and clever bucks, full of life and vigour, the unnecessary moral sentiments easily dismissed with a smattering of laughter and youthful sneers.

I can still remember that feeling after a victory. We triumphed together, exchanged high fives and rejoiced in the genuine glee of success. Some overweight rednecks somewhere in Texas just got their just desserts! Barring a small twinge of guilt, we felt like we deserved our win. Each one was celebrated with a hearty meal of kebab. We did it!

In the end, it only took a few weeks of playing before our accounts were closed and all of our winnings frozen. Apparently it was possible to get caught for this kind of thing after all.

We were in a total panic. Oh gods, we're going to prison – at the very least getting a criminal record! What's going to happen to our careers?! We passed the blame for the idea's origins back and forth like a game of tennis.

A couple of weeks were spent waiting. We were afraid of consequences that never actually arrived. Beyond that, we didn't feel any real shame over what we did. The biggest fear was that of getting caught, someone finding us out.

"It is easier to live with bad conscience than with bad reputation."
– Friedrich Nietczhe

Once upon a time, Socrates noted that “moral reasoning is about seeking the truth.”

Platon's brother Glaucon was considerably more pessimistic. He believed that our moral reasoning was simply a case of searching for a justification for our actions. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere between the two.

Platon might have been one of the first social psychologists. He described the human thought processes incredibly well. Later on, science provided proof for many of his observations.

People with especially good self-esteem have to keep proving to themselves that they're good people. The search for justification of our actions can make the human mind come up with the most outlandish explanations to support their worldview.

Regarding my best friend, my poker table partner and one of the most talented people I know, they eventually became a successful professional poker player. Back then we never would've thought we would once feel professional pride over being a poker pro.

...

Last edited by donkydonky; 10-15-2016 at 02:19 PM. Reason: don't know how to put pics in the text. Links not allowed?
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Old 10-15-2016, 07:22 PM   #2
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Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

the links don't work
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Old 10-16-2016, 08:02 AM   #3
donkydonky
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Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

I guess you cannot show links here in the forum? Or I just cannot use the system.
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Old 10-16-2016, 08:14 AM   #4
donkydonky
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Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

Here's my post for Finnish poker forum at 22.7.2007 when decided to change my career:

“Two years as a ‘poker professional’ is plenty”:

“I am a 24 year old man and I found Internet poker about two years ago. A friend and I started playing with small stakes, and never even thought of big wins. Playing then was a fun way to spend time and nothing more.

I soon realized my abilities in the game and quickly learned from my mistakes. I didn’t read any poker books, with the exception of a little bit of Mr Aki Pyysing’s (Finnish poker professional) book, though even with that I soon realized that I already knewmost of things he had written about.

Pretty soon I also noticed the side effects of playing. It was extremely hard to keep my thoughtsaway from poker, even when not sitting at the tables. I understood that I was suffering from strong ambition for the game and wanted to confess it to myself before it became addiction.

How many poker professionals can look in the mirror and honestly say: “I don’t have a gaming problem”. I thought I could deal with mine because my pay out was really good and increasing all the time. I played a maximum 30 hours per week, which is nothing compared to the biggest names in the poker scene. But playing poker had started to affect my studies and sports career.

From December 2006 I kept away from the tables for 6 weeks. I thought about what I want to do with my life. I realized I was enjoying my life more than I had enjoyed in last two years combined. I started to play again, but now I had made the decision that I didn’t want to live this kind of life. I want to study a profession where I can do something important and be respected for it.

I understand that money is not the most important thing in life. When I am old, I don’t want to look back on my life and work and then feel that the greatest moments were those when I went “all in” in front of my computer and later celebrated winning a great pot. Life has many greater things to give. I want to experience the joys and sadnesses of life and of work, the failures and successes, someplace else than in the showdown.

One great advice came to my mind when I read the book by Mr Pyysing. He suggested to his kids that they study a profession before considering a poker career. I am just wondering what kind of life a man who claims to play 12 hours a day is having... Does he enjoy the game so
much? Or is it the necessary evil, as he says in his book. Is free time just one of those things he does not appreciate? Ask yourself this: Would you play poker if you won the lottery? Would it give your life a meaning?

In two years I have never had a losing month. In the last two months I have played, on the average, 14 hours per week and earned over 15,000 USD per month. However, I decided to take an indeterminate break from poker and study a profession that I find more meaningful. After that I will reconsider if I want to live in the world of poker, or the new world I discover.

I would like to hear other players’ thoughts and experiences. I wish luck for all of them who found the meaning of their life from the poker table. I am sure now, I can never find it there."

I wrote also wrote some posts from the perspective of ethics in poker and gambling:

Here's one:

23.2.2007

"Hi again!

I was reading the gambler feedback and a lot of it was frankly about what I expected. To some, my writings probably sound mostly ridiculous, but there’s also a few of those like minds who have lived through the same stuff I’ve gone through, myself.

There’s a few questions I’ve been left with that I’d like to reply to. During the last half a year, I’ve played around 20 hours a week and won some 10000$ a month. I’ve cut back on the playing and moved on to slightly bigger limits (5/10nl, 10/20nl) and invested in HU games. So my hourly wages have consistently been on the rise. During the past two months, I’ve not had much success in tournaments. I made it to the finals in Bodog 200K (the last tournament of the month) once.

That means there are no grand tournament prizes included, but then there’s never been much of that. It’s nice to hear that my writing at least inspires emotions, whatever their range. I’ve experienced the reactions of my own circle of friends, which includes several poker players. Their set of values matching mine might be why they understood my decision and the reasoning behind it. The only ones confused by it were those who had never gambled. They were mostly angered and wondered at how I was throwing away an easy source of money.

One reason behind my decision was also that I’ve seen firsthand how the game in question can lead someone to ruin. After all, in truth it’s a rare player who manages to really make money at the expense of others.

The reality behind this game (as many others) is that the more intelligent you are, the better your chances of striking it rich. Naturally, there are other necessary qualities, such as perseverance, poise and the ability to work well under pressure, etc. I’ve heard some say that “an emotionally constipated person will own it as a poker pro.”

Every gambler knows that those who do this for a living are without a fail all extremely intelligent. I have great respect for the skills and the ability to make logical, well-grounded decisions that many top players possess. I have no doubt that they’d all succeed in various other ways of life. But I can’t respect the way they’re wasting their talents and intelligence on how to make as much money as possible, by taking it from someone else.

When I first began gambling and realized how easy the money there is, I, as the great pal that I am, recommended it to all of my friends. Naturally I wanted those close to me to also enjoy the easy pickings. Soon I noticed that most of my friends weren’t making it big and more than that, actually left the table without anything left to their name.

It made me feel horrible to watch how many close to me almost ruined their lives, while I got to enjoy the spoils of my winnings. Well, everyone was past the age limit and able to make their own decisions. It’s hardly my fault if they lose all their money – right? Well, luckily we don’t have to suffer from that, what with us being the victorious gamblers that we are.

Everyone has probably noticed the governmental pressure placed on net poker in many places like the US in an effort to put a stopper on the money traffic. How dare they start a witch hunt against honest professional poker players! Our whole livelihoods rest on that computer program where we go ALL IN! and retrieve our daily meal funds, with some occasional extra thrown in.

I spent half a year living in our dear neighboring country of Sweden, where poker is even bigger than here. All the stalls are quivering under the weight of flyers of all kinds, with magazines sporting some stable poker pro-star in sunglasses on their covers, all aglow with the glamour, the success, the happiness. Only the Rolex gleaming in all its golden glory on his wrist is enough to draw the attention from this guy’s poker face, which perfectly conceals whether he’s BLUFFing or has an actual MONSTERHAND.
Here we have our young protagonists, admiring the centerfold and already seeing themselves in their future profession…

In a country where a larger than average number of men always turn left at a T junction, the darker side of all this glamour was starting to show its face. We all know how few actually thrive and hit it big in poker. The rest fund our – winners’ – lives, some of them at the expense of their own. I’ve seen some truly tragic cases from up close. Oh well, it’s just a modern form of evolution, where those with the weaker poker talents have to make way for the stronger ones.

I used to ponder the word “gambling addiction.” I wondered and joked about someone dumb enough to spend all day in some small pub at a slot machine, wasting all their money. HAHA! They deserved to become poor and unhappy, with that kind of logic!
The past two years have taught me about this odd craving; one that is just so bloody addicting, indeed. One could compare it to the suffering of a teenage boy, sitting in class and forced to listen to some old, curly haired bint blathering on about genitives while all his thoughts are on that fabled G-spot of Maija sitting right next to him. It’s an inexplicable hunger, but it draws all your attention and arouses a strange pressure in your pants. This is just from my own experiences, but a similar feeling of pressure often appears when I’ve spent a few days without gambling. Only the location is different – in the upper end rather than the lower one.

These kinds of people, battling with a gambling addiction, tend to wind up in detox at AA clinics. All their money is gone and often some of their friends’ money, too. It has to be one bad addiction, when you can see your life going off the rails and still you can’t stop gambling. Everyone can decide for themselves what kind of addiction it is, when you’re paid for it and it’s quelled by taking a seat at a poker table.

It’s all this experience that allows me to understand the game time of some of the hottest names in the Finnish poker circles, clocking in at 100 hours or more. I just have to wonder the kind of life they live during the times of such “work” hours. A job is supposed to be enjoyable and fulfilling, after all. But what if the work is so fun and enjoyable that you want to spend all of your time doing it? I think that pushes aside other, important things, like the people close to you.

It makes me draw mental connections with an acquaintance of mine who used heroin for 7 years. They told that during those seven years, there were no thoughts beyond obtaining that good feeling from an injection. And once that’s gone, it’s time to search for the next one. They said they lost 7 years of their life. The comparison might be stretching things a bit, and they did end up cracking and giving in to the drugs again half a year later. No happy endings here, either.

Well, look at me spouting yet more overly romanticized crap, but at least I’ve gained some meaning to my life by writing it. As the weak person I am, I’ll probably go back on my decision to not play and return to the old routine. Or at least when roll demands it. But not before the entrance exams are over this summer.
Good luck with the games!"
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Old 10-16-2016, 02:11 PM   #5
Zeno
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Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

The OP and subsequent posts are basically a personal blog and do not belong in SMP. The thread will be moved to the blog forum to be dealt with there as appropriate.
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Old 10-17-2016, 07:03 AM   #6
donkydonky
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Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

2. Two years as a poker pro was plenty

After managing to avoid punishment for our attempted cheating in the poker table, my friend and I returned to the table. We had already discovered our skills in the area, learned our lesson and managed to emerge scot-free.

As the months passed, the hobby turned into something more serious and the stakes kept on rising. In under two years I'd progressed to high stakes and I knew the enormous opportunity ahead of me, ripe and ready for the picking.

This was a game I was made for, the prosperous world of endless opportunities and economic freedom was right behind the corner. And then the idea that I'd been slowly fostering, one born from a clash of values, finally hatched and my life took a sudden u-turn. It was then when I wrote my posts to Finnish poker forums.

Changing the game

My previous story here was followed by a break from poker. I took some time to think and consider what I wanted from my life. The search for my slot in life began with a huge disappointment, when I flunked the entrance exam to med school. I ended up studying natural sciences, namely chemistry, physics and molecular and cell biology. I believed that science was the way to interesting future career opportunities.

After figuring out a direction in life, I settled on a compromise when it came to poker, allowing for around half an hour of playtime each day over the following years.

I remember sitting, bent over a book, all the while stealing nervous glances at my computer. I was trying to focus on molecular structure and the interactions between electrons, but I could feel the pull of the game. My palms were sweaty and my feet restless. I was craving the challenge. Generally, I was able to stick to my reading. It took me years before I learned to understand my own behaviour on a deeper level and to control myself.

During my years at university I took about three full years off playing to properly focus on my studies. At the game table I ended up specializing almost exclusively in Texas Hold 'em and I would play NL with blinds as high as 100/200€. I even tried my hand at Omaha Heads-up.

At higher stakes I was more selective about my game partners. I can't say I was some High Stakes grinder; rather, I looked for the easy money where it was to be found, simply scooping it up in passing while bulling ahead with my studies. The winnings built up to a few hundred thousands.

Over the years the competition and the number of skilled players testing the same waters grew. Keeping up with the trend naturally made it difficult to stick to the self-assigned low quota of play hours. After eight hours of library, it was easy to spend the night wondering whether the things learned were worth the money lost.

Comparatively considering, you could say that my education came at a rather high cost.

Learning the game

I picked organic chemistry as my major. Eventually, I got the credentials as a teacher. Teaching is one of the most important jobs I can think of; a teacher passes on their thoughts to thousands of adolescents and on and on to the following generations. I never mentioned my poker background to any of my colleagues at the university. Teachers are, by and large, role models. They're in the same position at school, at home, on vacation and asleep – whenever there's a connection to be made with the teacher's identity and an action.

We all have an effect on the people around us. Of course, the extent of that effect depends on our status – our idea of “the value” that we believe others hold us to.

I went to great lengths trying to convince myself of the merit of a teacher as a role model to young people, when that same teacher was a successful poker professional.
I wanted to avoid giving any aspiring young men the idea of elastic-bound swads of cash, heavy gold watches, well-endowed, charitable ladies and the admiration and status worthy of a poker star. All of it was just polished comedy and dirty set ups, selling like hot cakes to all the young, pockmarked colts, full of testosterone and after the adventure of their lives, like a magic trick presented to a gullible audience.

After each science-filled day, I returned home and out of the closet; shedding the glasses and the teacher identity, pulling on my heroic cape like Clark Kent, sitting down at the poker table to face the next poker-hero of their own story.

The wealth I accumulated through playing poker provided me with plenty of free time. I travelled a lot, broadening my horizons. I was in the lucky position of having the opportunity to dive into new cultures both on the pages of books as well as in reality. In addition to my studies in natural sciences, I read hundreds of books and countless articles on politics, society, philosophy, psychology, economics, self improvement and business development.

Perhaps the best gifts the years have bestowed me with are an endless curiosity and the drive to learn and understand new things. These days I read about one book a week.

A single right thought can change your life – do you want to know a secret?

It's befuddling to think of yourself ten years back and to see how amiss you were when it came to your own psychology and physiology – not to mention how badly you understood your relationship with the world around you.

It's interesting to observe others and to notice how few understand the basics of their own behaviour or their roles in society. You're formally free in western society, but if you can't understand the layers of your own being or the world – the deeper dimensions – you'll always be a slave, even if you don't realize it. By starting with the right questions, you can receive answers that will broaden your world in amazing ways.
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Old 10-20-2016, 01:43 PM   #7
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Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

So much wisdom here.
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Old 10-20-2016, 03:14 PM   #8
gregorio
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Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

You can't use bit[dot]ly to shorten link on 2p2 as bit[dot]ly gets censored because spammers were using it. If you post the unshortened links everything works fine, except your image. For images, you need to put the url of the actual image that ends in .jpg, .gif or .png in the image tags in order for it to display.

I've fixed all the link below.
Quote:
Originally Posted by donkydonky View Post
For now, I'll begin by introducing myself. My name is Olli Mikael Rundgren and I'm currently 34 years old. This is me in EPT Barcelona 2012



It was amazing to get this voice mail by the famous Finnish philosopher from my voice mail where he commented this following text: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afmh4ZOVTuQ]

I was 24 years old when I wrote my first post on Finnish poker forums, which may have revealed my disappointment and pain, both with my own life and the world of gambling, if one were inclined to read between the lines.

At the time, I wouldn't have believed that the idea of turning aside easy cash;250$/h would attract such interest. Here's the translation and the original: [link deleted]

The second part: [link deleted]

Last edited by niss; 10-21-2016 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 10-26-2016, 11:20 AM   #9
donkydonky
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Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

How does your game develop?

The brain is an interesting organ; like muscles, it improves with practice, but the capacity for improvement is infinitely more diverse. How we live and the kind of impulses we provide our brains with strongly affect the kind of reality we’ll live in. For some people, the world unfolds, just as it did for Neo in the movie Matrix when he chose the red pill. For some the truth is too much. As for me, I belong to the group who would rather face the tainted truth than pretty make-believe.

When it comes to occupations of passion, there’s an unfortunate downside – they tend to narrow the scope of your interests. The brain will focus all of its capacity on a small area. Some of the synapses in the brain will remain unused. Despite that, passion is the only road to the “flow” zone, the most productive instance of work, where there is no sense of time or dimension. When you’re in flow, you’re one with what you do.

Excellence is often achieved only through the flow state. The line between passion and addiction is a thin one. It’s often the very same phenomenon when considered physiologically. The only difference might be the relationship between the subject, the action and the world. Regardless, whether you’re a winner or not has little relation to whether you have a winner’s brain.

Know your psychological game

When I was studying psychology, I learned a lot about my psychological profile.

I was part of the killers and the achievers. I was stimulated by challenge and reward. This group often includes natural politicians and High Stakes poker players.

Other psychological profiles include socialites, such as railbirds – those, who tend to love gathering at forums to share their worldviews – on poker, for example. For them, hanging out with the community is a higher priority than the topic they flock to.
Adventurers/seekers are curious by nature, always searching for something new and exploring new possibilities.

All of us have different psychological depths and dimensions, but there’s usually one dominant persona. Science is curiosity and, through my studies, I later discovered the developing adventurer/seeker aspect of my own brain. These days it seems to be my dominant aspect. I also experienced a strong desire for socialization, a tribe of my own – a chance to philosophize and improve the world with others.

We might not be born with a specific profile, but rather grow into one through our choices and the impulses we feed to our brains. Google Bartle map.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartle_Test

bartlemap

Know your physiological game

Poker provided me with an adventure into my own physiology, psyche and intuition. In the throes of the frantic game, my amygdala and the reward system in my brain were faced with a crossfire of strategy, logic, pressure, emotions and impulses. My suspicions were confirmed; playing permanently alters the structure of the brain.

”Approximately 8% of players aged 8-18 have a psychiatrically diagnosed addiction in the United States : brain studies point to changes in their nervous reward systems. The changes are similar to those of alcohol and drug abusers.”
– Daniel Coleman, Focus

dopaminen-reseptors



Google: Addicted Brain, Your Family Doctor
Or here is the direct link if it works:

http://www.yourfamilydoctor.com.au/h...ted_brain.html

I became more and more engrossed in the functions of the body and the neural and hormonal changes caused by playing. I wanted to understand the physiological cause and effect behind my actions.

My bachelor’s thesis discussed the medical treatment of game addiction. I thoroughly explored the functions of the pleasure center in the brain and its possible disturbances in various contexts. I studied the different forms of a drug called Naltrexone, commonly used in the treatment of alcoholism for the past few decades. Recently, Naltrexone has been increasingly studied as a method for treating game addiction. My dream was to one day be able to participate in the development of a medical solution to gaming problems. My supervisor was a specialist researcher in the department of health and welfare, who had over the years interviewed hundreds of people struggling with gambling problems, be it with poker or slot machines. The discussions we shared gave me perspective.

In my Master’s thesis, I intended to advance to analysing the possible hormonal changes caused by gaming.

Anyone who has spent some time at a game table knows the concept of ”poker sweat” – that special, enticing scent, so different from the common everyday sweat, produced by the stress hormones within our bodies during that nerve wrecking wait as the opponent’s timebank sluggishly crawls towards zero while they consider whether to go with our bluff or not. When checking out a poker tournament, that atmosphere of stress, excitement and anticipation can be felt all over, in people’s gestures, their expressions and eyes. The scant nuances of eye movement and body language convey the nervousness and expectancy born from adrenaline. The air is tense. Like an energy field, formed by the synergy of people drawn together by risk, achievement and the anticipation of a reward. You’re among sharks – killers and achievers.

My time at the university taught me that I don’t have the makings of a researcher. I was much too boisterous and impatient. I broke all the lab safety rules by creating innovative, optional and speedy synthesis routes for reagents decorated with pictures of skulls and crossbones, along with their painfully slow and rigid interphases and synthesis. I yearned for action and vision – the same pressure and excitement a game table could provide. My brain craved dopamine.
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Old 10-28-2016, 09:03 AM   #10
donkydonky
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Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

Here are the pics related to the previous article:


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Old 10-28-2016, 09:22 AM   #11
donkydonky
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Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

Bartle map: Killers, Achievers, Socializers and Explorers

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Old 10-29-2016, 09:21 AM   #12
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Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

Identity of your game

Identity is always built upon something. It could be a trait, a skill or a quirk. It’s extremely difficult to maintain a calm state of mind if some aspect of oneself inspires great admiration in others. We’re all susceptible to flattery and recognition. We covet a place and status in our own tribes. We often seek the kind of company that can increase our status the most. That is our place. That is where we’re appreciated.

Evolution wise, it all makes sense. Our brains reward us for success and make us direct our interest and resources to where we’re most likely to be able to put food on the table and where our status is highest. Status is important; a high status is the way to copulation. A partner is most often found in the same tribe. The same values, genes and traits will be strengthened and the resulting offspring will have the best weapons possible to take on the fight for the status of the next generation. This biological instinct and mechanism ensures the survival of our genes amidst the storm of evolution.

This natural operational model is also widely exploited and abused.

Values – A philosophy of games

The concept of values is a confusing one. They could be seen as the game philosophy of our lives. They’re at the root of every big decision we make.
Values can be like an inner voice, one with physiologically definable origins. The brain has a part called insula, or insular cortex. It processes a countless amount of small sensory nuances which integrate with the conscious mind.

Someone wise once said:

Make the big decisions with your heart and the small ones with your head.
The subconscious and memory of our lives holds all of our experiences, education and constructed understanding with its moods and facts. With every decision we make, they send a message to our conscious mind that allows us to feel something.

Insular cortex, Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insular_cortex

”This feels wrong. ”
”This feels right.”
”Something’s not right here.”

Often, the most important decisions of our lives are based on those feelings. You might not be aware of all the factors behind the feeling. Sometimes a short glance at the big picture is enough for the feeling. I often still experience that same feeling when I walk past a RAY (Finland’s Slot Machine Association) arcade, where casino lights flicker and the sleeve of a VIP customer’s scuffed jacket sways as its owner sends the fruits on another round around the Skinner box.



Operant conditioning chamber, Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operan...ioning_chamber

The same feeling is even stronger when I converse with a young poker pro who confidently recounts having dropped out of school to focus on a full time poker career, encouraged by a large tournament win a few years back.

I gain his attention and admiration by talking about having played high stakes poker with large hourly wages for years by now. The need for boasting disappears from his eyes and demeanor, shifting instead to broadcast a hint of fear, raised blood pressure and a burgeoning stress disorder. Slumping shoulders and nervous articulation accompany the confession, as he admits he’s currently suffering from a long losing streak. At least he still has some savings.

In the background, a toast is proposed for the champion who has set the table handsomely as usual. Gotta hang on to that preconceived role. All role models visibly flaunt their living standards.

Just have to keep working on the game and watch all those teaching videos, and the bad luck will change, he asserts. I try to subtly redirect the conversation towards the importance of schooling, but the young lad perceives school as a hindrance to developing his game.
A quick evaluation of the boy’s competence, weakness of identity, psychology, physiology and the lack of understanding regarding his position in life makes me feel ill. His body has already adapted to dealing with the stress caused by the game, his mind set on the future he foresees. The only feeling I have is the feeling of wrongness. I don’t think the lad knows the kind of game he’s playing or the kind of future he’s playing for, with his life as a chip in some much greater game.

Poor thing.

Luckily, I only ever had to face an impersonal name tag, virtually presented on a computer screen. Those never conveyed a life unlived, a distorted identity, social issues or malfunctions in the brain and hormone secretion.

Too much information might have been too much to digest for a predator this delicate.

The hand rankings

Contrary to poker, life has all sorts of hand rankings. In some games of life, a three of a kind can beat a full house. In others, the more traditional ranking system is appropriate. Everyone defines the rankings of their own lives.

There have been times when I’ve moralised and judged too strongly. I thought ways such as being a professional poker player or working in the gambling industry irresponsible methods of earning a living. I was living a conflict. Then again, something most people in their twenties can only dream of was within a hand’s reach for me. I could tour the world, enjoy a life of freedom, pick up girls at bar counters and play poker under palm trees while sipping a Piña Colada. All the while obtaining an economic liberty by playing the game I loved.



At the same time a feeling of responsibility and obligations, emerging from some deep depths of my mind, weighed heavily on my shoulders. I was faced with a frighteningly realistic vision of a grumpy old gamer in his fifties, buying vintage whiskey by the pound, living a hollow existence devoid of substance, gazing down upon his creation from an ivory tower; A casino complex optimized to imprison the human mind like a Skinner box, as he ponders the heritage he’s leaving behind during his brief time on this earth, hoping he made the right choices; Is this what it’s like to be successful?



Gambler – a social animal

It was only after I’d spent some time studying psychology that I understood the innate need to be accepted as you are. I was ashamed of my gamer identity, faced with all the people that I saw laboring to benefit society, all the people who scorned the idea of gambling as a career.

"Adam Smith believed that human beings are driven by moral sentiments and their desire to seek and be worthy of the admiration of others."
-Social Animal

Condemning gambling as a career was how I clung to my worldview, my values and choices. The same phenomenon is apparent in communities with strict tenets and moral values. For many of these groups, ignoring the differing worldviews of others is nigh impossible. Censure, rejection and disdain, not to mention the threat of perdition, are ways of strengthening one’s beliefs on their chosen path.

No one knows the truth. Do actual values even exist?

"Happiness is the state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values."
- Ayn Rand

To protect my worldview, I avoided forming a clique made of poker players. Like attracts like, after all – people like to spend time with others who share their worldview, discussing common worries and values. A shared worldview is safe, increases solidarity and has improved chances of survival in tribal skirmishes throughout evolution. One of the intriguing aspects of humanity is the way values, worldviews and energy are passed on.

I could truly relate to the fearlessness, attitude, freedom, sense of adventure, candor, frankness, courage and predator instinct of gamblers. Even so, I had a feeling that something was missing. I longed for something more substantial and worthwhile. Similar longing was rarely apparent in the demeanor of other gamblers. It was difficult to find any kindred spirits, but I didn’t want to lose that side of myself either. Impulses are like the waves of a stormy sea – it’s difficult to glimpse the horizon when you’re being buffeted by sea foam.

It took me around five years to finally stabilize my worldview, life philosophy and career choice enough to stop questioning the greater choices in my life. I can steadfastly resist the pull of casino lights, the wonderful sound signaling the beginning of your turn in netgames, the feeling of accomplishment accompanying a victory by bluffing and the admiration that comes with being a successful gambler. Understanding your own position in the world is as important as understanding your position at the game table, with one difference – one of these games is played with much higher stakes.

After several years, I started spending some time in poker circles. As my self confidence improved, so did my acceptance of my worldview and myself as I am. I realized that we’re all individuals with our own needs, passions and paths in life.

I’ve made a few friends through poker. I don’t envy their millions or lifestyles and they don’t envy my lifestyle or way of thinking. Or maybe we both envy each other, just a little. And perhaps even slightly pity the other. We’re both in the right.

While I was searching for a game table of my own, I also learned a lot about various motivation theories. Most sources reiterated three things that a person requires:

Autonomy: The feeling that you have an effect on your work. You’re not being controlled by some higher force.

Mastery: The feeling that you’re advancing in your work. We have an innate need to improve.

Purpose: The feeling that your work matters.

For me, it was obvious which one was missing from my poker career.
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Old 11-04-2016, 06:24 PM   #13
donkydonky
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Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

Delusional game

The past ten years have opened my eyes in various ways. People are always captives of their worldviews, to an extent. Our worldviews never match with reality – rather, they’re always distorted in content and value. Studying was a way to gain some perspective, especially in regards to gambling.

Ten years ago, I thought gambling a serious issue and a societally hazardous phenomenon. These days, its significance has lessened to that of a drop in the ocean of the other problems and injustices of the world.

I still believe in controlling gambling and regulating and restricting its advertisement. Protecting minors is especially important. Young brains are not yet developed enough. The younger you start gambling, the more likely you are to develop a gambling addiction.

Poker and other forms of gambling have their slot in the field of entertainment. On some levels, gambling might even have a positive societal effect. Regardless, building a society is a game of skill, just like poker, and it comes with its own rules – T&C. I don’t know of any successful societies that don’t control gambling in some form or manner.

Naturally, many interest groups will often claim otherwise. Seeing the big picture objectively is difficult for most people. Or perhaps they see it, but don’t care. That’s also understandable.

"Gambling is the child of avarice, the brother of inequity and the father of mischief…” This is a vice, which is productive of every possible evil.. In a word, few gain by this abominable practice, while thousands are injured."
- George Washington

Times may be different and the payoff is most likely not quite as dreadful as Mr Washington once described, but when considering the overall view, many a heart has doubtlessly felt it nevertheless.

The freedom of a solitary game

Though Finland is the promised land of banning and restricting all that is fun, force is rarely the best method, even when citing higher powers.

I’ve learned to appreciate the freedom of choice, even if it’s simply alleged. No one is ever truly free to choose, but we crave the feeling of it.

There’s one, big problem when you consider freedom of choice: the effect of addiction on an independent mind. Physical and mental addictions as well as using them to make money raise all manner of ethical questions, considering that they can be seen as having a lack of choice, especially if the addiction is reasonably fierce, either physically or mentally.

Technology and developing science aren’t the only things the future brings. Alongside those, there will also be more and more ways of reeling in the human body and mind. I truly hope that the people coming up with and benefiting from these methods have sufficient moral fibre.

A mental game of skill

It’s time to move on to the real High Stakes game tables and take a look at a much greater game – a game with rules only known by a select few – a game with depth only conceivable by the most well read, the most logical, the most shrewd of minds – a game played by both angels and devils.

Poker has taught me a great deal. It’s had an effect on the way I think, in more ways than I’d care to admit to. Strategical positioning, cause and effect, controlled risk, physiological know-how, conquering your fears and understanding your own behaviour are all things that poker inspired in me.

There are countless amounts of games and their metagames that could be used to describe the world. A metagame is a game that the previous game is a part of. Poker is a game of skill, and an example of its metagame could be an individual life-game of skill. The metagame of this game of life could, then, be the closest community, for example the family that the individual’s life-game of skill belongs to.

When advancing beyond poker in the hierarchy of games of skill, eventually it reaches the level of societies and, finally, the game of skill known as constructing a whole world. The highest level may be considered as the whole of humanity as part of the ecosystem. Perhaps, in the future, the game of skill will further expand to cover other planets and galaxies.

For the past few years, I’ve largely focused on sales psychology; marketing and branding, which – when simplified – mean spreading ideas and reforming mental images.

It’s a mental game of skill.

Fully visualizing and comprehending this game of skill has evoked some very conflicting feelings in me. As humans, we’re moved by a greater power, like marionettes directed by an invisible hand.

Marketers spend money, take our time and transform our culture. It’s quite a powerful position to be in.
Seth Godin
Unethical marketing has killed more people than all the wars in the world, combined, claims one of the world’s marketing authorities.

Read that previous sentence again.

Once more.

The most unbelievable fact is that it’s all completely legal. We’ll spend a moment of silence for the victims of World War. We won’t spend one for the victims of the unethical marketing, since understanding this is so difficult that most will never comprehend the extent of the dirty reality.

Very few realize what kind of limbo they live in. Anyone can be brainwashed to see any sort of reality. It’s easy to tut at the violent acts of fanatics and to wonder what kind of a mind it takes to commit them. At the same time, it’s easy to miss what kind of a game you’re a tiny game piece in. If people were aware of those who share their worldviews and identities, they might be surprised. This is a game of skill of the heaviest kind. This is big boys tussling.

Most are unaware that several of the world’s most valuable brands are based on a magically fabricated lie.

People always choose freely, but only within the limits allowed by their worldview.

Poker is a game of skill

It can be amusing to follow the conversation and political play surrounding the nature of poker as a skill game. The nature of games of skill has been debated as high up as in courtrooms. Even today, a beginner player will ask: is poker a game of skill?

It doesn’t take too much in depth knowledge to realize that poker is a skill game. That is an obvious truth.

Even so, for some reason the conversation circles around this topic. Why? It might be surprising that both sides contribute to this; gambling industry and the government officials regulating gambling, both for their own reasons.

Why is poker branded as a game of skill?

Let me shed some light on it.

All societies are built upon the pillars of ethical values. Values are connected to our emotions and, through that, to our behaviour. The societies that form the best values – support the most useful emotions – will thrive in the competition between societies. These values include, among others, trust, honesty, piety, patriotism, liberty, etc.

”Competition” is one of the promoting values of society.

Why?

Because when it comes to society building games, the societies which promote competitiveness have fared better than the ones which don’t include competitiveness as one of the basic values.

“We need more competition and market economy to survive in the globally intensifying competition.”

Sound familiar?

You don’t have to look far back for the latest example of a non-competitive society collapsing nearby Finland.

Skills are valued and promoted in societies because skills increase the chances of success in competitions. When there are skilled individuals in the tribe, it benefits the rest of the tribe too. A game of skill means that you can succeed in the competition within the game if you have the talent.

Since we were mere toddlers, our ears have been filled with murmurs of ”Oh, little Pena, you’re so talented! You could become anything!”

When building a brand, it’s always important to have a strong impact on the subconsciousness and feelings. Doesn’t it feel good to be called talented?

Poker is branded as a game of skill because we’re making a break from games of chance and associating poker with a positive connotation; talent.

Mastery: We have an inborn urge to grow and improve – ”to become more skilled.”

‘Competition’ and ‘game of skill’ are vague concepts. They sound good and appeal to the innate desire to grow and flourish. It’s not so much the innate value of competition or games of skill that matters, but rather what they give to the tribe, society and the world.

A status as a game of skill isn’t enough basis for regulation or the lack of it.

Sports are based on skill. They’re allowed and people are encouraged to participate in them, because they promote exercise and the will to win. Sport stars are important role models in the land of couch potatoes and increasing obesity.

Promoting zero-sum games or even EV games, or not regulating them is societally stupid and perhaps even impossible, considering the metagame of games of skill; the skill game of building societies.

This is why games of chance and skill are controlled.

For example, think of marketing; a mental game of skill – brainwashing, at worst – is the nobility of skill games, the aforementioned big boys’ tussling. Yet almost no one dares to claim that the skill games of smoking, alcohol or drugs shouldn’t be regulated, or even banned.

At least freeing their marketing isn’t usually justified by the skill game nature of marketing.

There must be some heavy arguments in order for the spokesman of the values of independence and competition, the United States, to ban its free people from playing a game of skill; online poker, whose brand is derived from competition.

The more people build their identities on negative or zero-sum games, the worse its effect on the metagame of society building gets.

In poker, people test their skills against each other; the same applies to society building skill games, where it’s societies competing with each other. Taxation, education and the values held by the society are all part of this game of skill.

The best player wins.

Many can visualize the complexities of this metagame, but playing around with the crowd’s minds, emotions and impulses is just too easy and addictive. We have a psychological tendency to reshape the world to fit our own needs. We’re often wilfully blind to the big picture.

Playing with others’ minds comes with responsibility. Wisdom is a rare gift and an even more rarely practiced game of skill.

To stick to the truth: poker is a game of skill.

It’s great to be one of the chosen; one of those, who stand together against the evils of the world – those unaware and uncomprehending. It’s great to be one of the chosen, who know the truth.

We poker players and the much vilified religious fanatics may have more in common than you would have previously imagined.


By the way, here’s the kind of chap you’ll rarely see among the sharks: Dan Coleman.

"I really don’t owe anyone an explanation but I’ll give one.

First off, I don’t owe poker a single thing. I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit financially from this game, but I have played it long enough to see the ugly side of this world. It is not a game where the pros are always happy and living a fulfilling life. To have a job where you are at the mercy of variance can be insanely stressful and can lead to a lot of unhealthy habits. I would never in a million years recommend for someone to try and make it as a poker pro...

...It bothers me that people care so much about poker’s well-being. As poker is a game that has such a net negative effect on the people playing it. Both financially and emotionally.

...And yes, I realize I am conflicted. I capitalize off this game that targets peoples weaknesses. I do enjoy it, I love the strategy part of it, but I do see it as a very dark game."

- Dan Coleman

http://www.cardplayer.com/poker-news...very-dark-game

In every era, every culture and every tribe, one of the most important values for the tribe has been loyalty to the tribe and the shared worldview. This is the only way to keep the unity of the tribe, to secure its future in the clashes of warring tribes.

It takes a special brand of courage to question the foundations of your own tribe’s existence, to saw at your own branch, to cut down on the benefits you’ve earned, to see objectively further than your kin and to achieve all of this when you’re already headed for a high, admired status in the tribe. The only thing worse than painting yourself into a corner might be painting your tribe into one.

For people who think and understand, the best survival strategy through the times has always been to sit in the very back and silently approve of the play currently in progress. It takes a lot to comprehend. It takes even more to speak up.

Moving on; poker and gambling are a small portion of the world’s metagames. There are several similar or worse games of skill. Still, this particular game of skill is the one I most relate to, considering how familiar I am with it and how passionately I still love it from afar.

If someone wants to convince me to think of the big picture differently, I’m willing to reconsider provided there’s a better view and proof.

When it comes to the big picture, it’s not so much about the stakes of the game of skill, but the philosophy of the play style.

The rules of the game – T&C

Freedom of choice is a kind of illusion. It’s based on the idea that the feeling of freedom is one of the most basic and primitive emotions. We want to be in control of our own lives. Appealing to this illusion is also an easy way to get people to behave as we wish them to.

Let me give you an example of a game of skill which has killed millions of people and still continues to do so among the weaker and the less resilient.

Around the beginning of the last century, tobacco conglomerate Philip & Morris was building its brand around intelligence and health. Smoking represented both of these values and the role model marketing largely utilized doctors among other virtuous examples.



It was around 1950-1960s that tobacco corporations started encountering problems. Science was able to prove the connection between smoking and lung cancer as well as several other lethal diseases. Philip & Morris was one of the many tobacco corporations who managed to fight against science for a long while by hiding research results, but in the end they were forced to admit that smoking kills.

But Philip & Morris discovered something much better. Health may have been one of the most important values, but there was something even more valuable; the very feeling, the illusion that I just mentioned before.

Philip & Morris’ brand was freedom.

"People have a right to decide."

Which would you rather give up, your left arm or your ability to make your own decisions?

If you’re like most others, you’re more prepared to give up your arm than your freedom.



This fortunate positioning within people’s minds – equating smoking with the freedom of choice – is what made Philip & Morris one of the most visionary and productive companies in the 1900s. At the same time, the people behind the brand have killed millions of people with their game philosophy.


– Jim Collins, Build to Last

People are free to make their own choices.

Understanding the skill games of the mind requires an in-depth understanding of psychology, social psychology and sales psychology. You can scratch the surface of tobacco industry by watching the movie Thank You For Smoking.

I hope people can remain objective. I hope they can see beyond their own noses to the rest of this world. Having spent some 30 years getting to know human nature, I have to admit that it might be just wishful thinking. Perhaps Ayn Rand was right. Does truth exist without preference?
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Old 11-08-2016, 07:20 AM   #14
donkydonky
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Posts: 15
Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

A tournament as long as history and the tussling of big boys

I once read a remarkable and eye-opening tome by Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor, on his reflections some two thousand years ago. It’s both enlightening and frightening how, despite our scientific worldview and the knowledge and technological advancement provided by it, the most basic, big decisions that steer society are mostly philosophical and based on values.

Morally, people haven’t advanced all that much. In many ways, we might have even regressed some.
Decisions that require wisdom are rarely made in royal court, these days. Instead, capitalism has focused power to the individual and this trend grows at an exponential speed. Capitalism has freed the individual mind, for better or worse. Another difference with the time two thousand years ago how much the stakes have increased.

Using poker terms to describe history, you could compare it to an interminable tournament, with thousands of years spent on slow blind structure and deep stacks. Suddenly, the blinds double with every hand dealt. This will change the game on several levels of the world. We’re moving on to Winner Takes It All economy. The prize structure of the tournament will change.

The sorts of game philosophical decisions we make through our lives – at micro-levels at the game tables of life, globally considering – are logically the same as the ones made by the world’s High Rollers at their own tables. The same as in poker, the logic of the game doesn’t change if the stakes do.

When we sit at a poker table or our own micro-level game table of life, thinking about the question of morality, so do the High Rollers – hopefully.

It’s not about the size of the stakes, but the philosophy behind the game of skill.

Making the rules is another game of skill.

Globalization is one grand final table, bringing together all the rest: the different cultures, economies, physiologies, genes, religions, worldviews, philosophies, etc. It’s amazing to see how elegantly various factors influence the different aspects of the game and form the final, monumental metagame.

The one who plays the most efficiently wins. The minds who grab every possible jackpot are generally the ones to reach the final table with the biggest stacks.

At least the tournament rounders know the benefits of a big stack at the final table.

The stipulations of a global game of skill

Are there any stipulations to a global game of skill? Some believe that the stipulations of a game of skill are the ethical boundaries set by God, boundaries that should never be crossed. Others think the limits are defined by a capitalist system and yet others say the limit lies where the ecological sustainability of the Earth ends. For some, it’s enough to observe mundane laws. For others, even those are unnecessary.

The philosophy of values is central to, among others, the game of skill related to climate change. The core of the solution is philosophical: do we have an obligation and do we wish to do something about it? Are we required to research the effects of climate change in more detail or not? Are we allowed to live in a way that places the yet unborn future generations at risk? Can we reshape the ecological balance?

Though many laud the powers of capitalism, individualism, human selfishness and working for one’s own benefit as a way to raise standards of living, I’m largely unconvinced.

The High Rollers of the world are products of our time, results of the reigning culture and values. If we consider working for one’s own benefit one of our core values, disregarding any ethical concerns, then how could we expect the same to not happen on bigger tables?

In a capitalist system, the power belongs to the big stacks. It centers on individual minds.

Personally, I truly hope that the winner or winners have the ability to see the bigger picture in their own benefit.

While scrutinizing the average level of humans’ understanding and objectivity, one can only hope that the most intelligent individuals, the future High Rollers of life and final table players will reach higher standards in their morality and objectivity than the regular citizen.

When it comes to the final table, there’s cause for concern. Or do you believe that someone will grind at the game table of life from micro to high stakes games, with some play style and worldview and suddenly learn how to rebuild all of the original pillars supporting their game? I don’t.

A quick chat with a civil servant about municipal mergers, a cab driver about Uber, a betting agency representative about game monopoly, a poker player about the problems of gambling or a tourist in Pattaya about human trafficking will often reveal that our species might not be inclined to look further than their own noses, after all.

Perhaps one of our genetic attributes is our tendency to spend our pocket money before even reaching the sweets store.

Political gamblers

We humans can somehow appear almost innocent, the way we stumble through the world with rose tinted glasses firmly on. We take our clues from others. We spend our lives grinding, and so do the business executives – and everyone is just a small game piece with little effect on the whole. Everyone’s so focused on their own selves, their own industry and their own lives that seeing the big picture is nigh impossible.

The problem is that reality is greater than the sum of its parts. When a destructive philosophy reaches the biggest game tables, we’re on our way to big trouble.

Having fought to the very end for the most influential position in the world, Donald Trump, who enjoys massive support, comments on climate change as follows:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.




Trump may seem like a jolly character, who’s hard to take seriously. I wish that was the truth. He’s much more dangerous than most would believe.

Trump promises to restore the United States to its past glory and appeals to the primitive emotions of the less educated populace, casting shadows on the scientific worldview that may be the sole saviour of the world in the years to come.

Quote:
Politics isn't primarily about defending interests. It's about affirming emotions.
- Social Animal

If Mr. Trump sets out to lead the U.S. with the philosophy he introduced, the other nations will surely answer with a similar philosophy.

The strong man of history that I greatly admire might have been right:

Quote:
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
-Winston Churchill

Democracy might save the world, but only if the voters understand themselves and their relationship with the world.

A strong leader who abandons scientific proof in matters essential to sustainable development makes for a very dangerous example.

Sometimes the inevitability of the crash course of human idiocy, greed, nearsightedness, the thirst for adrenaline and the limits of the physical world is enough to make a mind despair.

Alea iacta est!

It makes you think. How will the dice of humanity fall?

Quote:
God does not play dice with the universe.
- Albert Einstein
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Old 11-14-2016, 03:48 PM   #15
donkydonky
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Finland
Posts: 15
Re: Poker Philosophy in the Terms of Life

Discovering your own game table

I spent a long while looking for my place and a career I could enjoy. I was already working on my Master’s thesis on the hormonal changes caused by gambling when, three years back, I realized my life had come a full circle – it was time to return to the world of games that I so adored.

I was attending an inspiring lecture on games and their future by Peter Vesterbacka from Rovio. I decided to change my career path immediately after listening to his presentation. I changed the topic of my thesis to “How to cause an impact with games” and quit my part time job playing poker, redirecting my previous poker winnings to funding research and development of games.

I realized that over the years I had gathered a fortune in games and science and I could combine that with my passion and actually have a scalable effect. The past three years have been overwhelmingly the best time in my life, career wise. I’ve gotten to know some amazing people who share my vision and to burn my bankroll on learning a whole new, lovely game of skill.

Sitting at a poker table often made me feel like I was wasting my life. I was taking risks and enjoying impulses that held no value or meaning – their only worth was in the money I was making. I felt like a winner of a small game, worth nothing or worse as a part of the metagame.

In my current mission, taking risks has gained a deeper meaning. I’ve almost spent the savings I gathered over the years and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it, feeling like the risk is for something bigger, something truly meaningful.

I started researching how the human mind could be affected. My experiences with game tables’ fervor and effect on the brain might be crucial for stimulating emotions. The goal is to get people to think, to understand and to look for the truth. You could also call this process entertainment science.



The human brain is a great mystery. What we know of it is the bare minimum of the fantastic whole. We can alter our brain through the choices we make. We can also encourage people to live and think in ways that support the happiness of lonely individuals as well as the survival of our species as a whole in a manner that sticks to the boundaries of our ecosystem.

Earlier, I discussed the power of sales psychology – the skill game of the mind: how to sell ideas and thoughts. Could we sell others something, that they actually need; an understanding of their own behaviour and their relationship with the world around them? Would that make people happier? Would it be possible to combine the game cards so that the resulting hand could even change the crash course of humanity and the ecosystem?

How to bluff people – and save the future of the world?


How do you play a game of skill in a manner that sells people understanding, curiosity and motivation to learn more?

This question continues to puzzle teachers of natural sciences around the world, while also perplexing executives at governmental level, considering how an ever increasing number of future work positions are located in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Despite this demand, the subjects are failing to entice young students. For them, these fields are difficult, challenging, laborious and unsexy. Traditionally, encouraging the youth to study natural science involves education reforms and redesigned classrooms – teaching them better. It might be surprising, but the biggest impact is actually caused by something entirely different. Only those with the sharpest of eyes and the best understanding will realize the depths of the metagame.

A few years back, when I grasped the power of mental games of skill, I noticed how large an effect entertainment could have on youth – something no education reform could achieve. I started watching a TV series called The Big Bang Theory, a show that's had remarkable success in both the U.S. and Europe. It didn't take me long to see how full the series was of the very same well explored psychological metagame methods that the tobacco industry, lured by the idea of profit, had used to kill millions of people over the past century, the same methods that the gambling industry used to get youths to build their identities around card games. Those same, clever tricks that had made adolescents fall in love with things that trapped their lives and brains, were now reproduced in a family-friendly TV show that associated science with status, sex, power, friendship, funny stereotypes and interesting dynamics of human interactions, including the most clichéd of clichés, the ”neighbour's cat” setup.



Naturally, the show served the big metagame agenda of the United States, that of getting more teens interested in natural science, very well. The hooked youth would make for a valuable work force in the near future. The series was globally broadcasted, so the impact would reach well beyond the borders of the U.S., improving the status – or profile – of natural scientists, increasing the lure of studies in the field, perhaps even so much that a well informed mind might estimate a 50% increase in the numbers of teens interested in studying STEM subjects, thanks to The Big Bang Theory and Brian Cox, who also does very important work in popularizing science.

Whoever it was that came up with the concept for The Big Bang Theory, they've either designed an incredible positive impact when it comes to the future of the whole world, or it's all a freaky coincidence. Personally, I firmly believe in an intelligent and methodical person's or people's systematical skill games of the mind.

If my guess is right, the truth is something people would like to keep secret. We humans want to learn, not be taught. We want to discover things ourselves, not be led astray – even if it's in the positive sense. I used to laugh at conspiracy theories. Yet the world proves more remarkable each day.

As social psychology mentions, the bigger choices we make in our lives are often directed by the influences we received when we were young. We pick the features of our partner, our career, our beliefs and several other, meaningful things very early on. It's generally all done outside the reach of the conscious mind, but this behavioural foundation allows for a whole new realm of possibilities to the best players of mental game of skill. It also provides them with a considerable responsibility.

You'll never guess the greatness that is created when the addictive nature and interactivity of games are combined with the appropriate mission of entertainment science.

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