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Old 02-09-2009, 06:57 PM   #101
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
I'm actually kicking around the idea of writing a short book called Real Poker Psychology. In fact, I recently spoke to Bill Robertie about the possibility of him and Dan Harrington joining in on the project. And for those of you here who don't think I understand what tilt is about, here's a repeat of an essay I recently wrote for our Two Plus Two Poker Startegy Magazine.

Best wishes,
mason

Tilt — A Mathematical View

by Mason Malmuth


Many years ago, in 1975, I finally left my home at Virginia Tech and went to work as a mathematical statistician for the United Stated Census Bureau. Upon arrival, I found myself assigned to an office with several well educated statisticians. This meant that there was always a statistical journal around and an article to read.

After working for a few months, my supervisor brought over the latest journal article that others had already found quite interesting. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the article, who the author was, or what particular journal it was in. So to this unknown author I apologize for not giving proper credit. The article was about a mathematical definition of humor, and I am convinced that tilt follows the same pathways with one major difference.

First, however, to understand what is to follow, we need to define a continuous function and a point of discontinuity. And we’ll use this very simple definition:

A continuous function is a line or curve that you can draw across a piece of paper from left to right without lifting up your pen or pencil.

In other words, it will just look like a line, not necessarily straight, that starts on the left side of the paper and finishes on the right. On the other hand, if it is necessary to lift your pen or pencil up and then set it down at another point producing a gap in what you are drawing, this is a point of discontinuity, and your function is no longer continuous at that point.

Continuing with the article, it then argued that humor was simply points of discontinuity in the logic presented that your brain had to process. It gave this example which I will repeat below as best I can:

There was a young lady who wanted to have a boy friend. But she had some requirements. She told her friends that her future man needed to be short but well dressed. So her friends introduced her to a penguin.

First off, notice that this little joke is funny. It also contains a logical discontinuity. While a penguin is certainly short, and they do appear to be well dressed, this is obviously not an appropriate boy friend. But the brain processes this discontinuity, understands it, and finds it funny. And the fact that the brain can understand what has happened is what causes it to be funny.

Three other examples of humorous discontinuities are when Groucho Marx, aka Captain Spalding, stated:

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know.

Or when Mae West commented:

When I'm good I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better.

Or when W. C. Fields said:

There is not a man in America who has not had a secret ambition to boot an infant.

I think in all of these examples, as in the penguin example that was in the original article I read many years ago, the discontinuities are obvious. We see the logic discontinuity and also understand the error of the logic. Thus we laugh.

But what happens when a logic discontinuity happens and we don’t understand the error in the logic. Then instead of humor, I believe the brain sort of shorts out, or perhaps gets caught in an infinite logic loop similar to what can be caused by some sort of bad computer programming. This leads to frustration, and in extreme cases, irrational decisions.

When playing poker, I virtually never go on tilt, but there is something I do all the time where tilt occasionally gets the best of me. It’s playing tennis, and I have been playing since I was a kid, and that was a long time ago.

What will occasionally happen is that I’ll miss an easy shot which is simply impossible to miss, or perhaps I’ll miss several shots in a row where I shouldn’t miss any of them, or I can’t toss the ball straight when trying to serve, etc. My mind will view these things as simply being impossible. There is no logical way that any of this can happen since I’ve been playing too long and have too much skill for these events to occur. But they do occur and a logical point of discontinuity is manifested.

But unlike the humorous examples given above. There is no solution. I’m not able to realize that a penguin is not a potential boyfriend for a young lady even though he seems to meet some of the criteria, that an elephant was not really in Captain Spalding’s pajamas, that Mae West wasn’t referring to being polite and well behaved, and that we’re not suppose to be kicking little kids across the room. My logic just fails because, again, there is no solution. Or at least it seems that way.

This brings us to poker. Here I believe the same problem occurs for many people. When they loose several hands in a row, or can’t understand how their aces are cracked, or have trouble dealing with running bad, it’s again a logic disconnect. To the person on tilt, in their mind, the events that just occurred are simply impossible, and thus their logical circuitry, so to speak, gets locked up as the information that their brain needs to process enters some sort of infinite loop.

So what’s the solution to this? It’s very simple. Understand poker and the probabilistic events that govern it better. Once you get a better grasp of the facts that your aces can be beat, it’s very possible, and eventually quite likely, to lose several hands in a row, and to run bad for sustained periods of time, tilt goes away.

In fact, when you see good players who are known not to tilt suffer a horrendous beat, they usually chuckle. Their minds have the solution at the end of the discontinuity. So instead of processing it as frustration, they process all the chips going the wrong way as an “elephant in my pajamas.” That is they see these events as being funny, not frustrating.

To finish, on our forums, I have written many times that understanding the game of poker well is the best cure for tilt. Now most of you can understand my reasoning behind this. Tilt is not a “flight or fight” experience. It’s actually something humorous where the logic that your mind requires gets hung up. Once you acquire enough information that your mind won’t get hung up in an infinite logic loop, tilt should be a thing of the past.
So what psychology degrees or psychological studies have you, Robertie, and Harrington done?
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:28 PM   #102
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by Tommy Angelo View Post
You and me both brother! I call it the-man-behind-the-curtain syndrome. First I went through it with music. By playing thousands of gigs and recording for thousands of hours, it has become hard for me to "just listen" to a song without hearing the component parts and thinking about the process and all sorts of stuff. And now that I've done a lot of writing and revising, I have the same thing happen sometimes when I read.

Since we're on the topic of editing in general and the editing of my book in particular, here are a few facts. I used seven editors. All of them but one (my wife) are poker players. Six of them did readings of the whole thing, made notes, and then I talked over the notes with them. One editor, who is truly my ace in the hole, Anna Paradox, worked with me practically on a daily basis from start to finish. Because I cranked out the ideas and the first drafts and made the final decisions, I am called "the author." But to whatever extent it is possible for an editor to be a co-writer, Anna was.



You are so right. The part you might not have considered when you wrote that is that I am a revising junkie, and that the editor who was most likely to polish the life right out of any particular batch of text was me! One of Anna's great strengths as an editor was in telling me when a passage was finished.

Tommy
Anna Paradox, who, according to her web site, is some sort of life coach that will help you with your "fears and anxieties," was also used as an editor on another book that we published. The manuscript that we received was written so badly that that it had to be returned to the authors for a complete rewrite. I also sent you an email recommending that you not use her for your editing work. You replied to me that you had "a whole slew of people besides Anna helping me with the editing of my book."

Now that's okay. It's your book and you should make your own decisions. But don't come on here recommending someone whose work I have already rejected when you know that is the case.

MM
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:30 PM   #103
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by KCPokerHustler View Post
So what psychology degrees or psychological studies have you, Robertie, and Harrington done?
None. My degrees are in math. Same for Bill Robertie. And Dan Harrington was an attorney.

MM
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Old 02-10-2009, 12:05 AM   #104
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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...don't come on here recommending someone whose work I have already rejected when you know that is the case.

MM
He wasn't recommending her to you. He was describing the work she did on his book.

Is Tommy tight with some other authors you have problems with? And since you've had a bad experience with one of his collaborators, might this cloud your judgement some?
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Old 02-10-2009, 12:26 AM   #105
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Anna Paradox, who, according to her web site, is some sort of life coach that will help you with your "fears and anxieties," was also used as an editor on another book that we published. The manuscript that we received was written so badly that that it had to be returned to the authors for a complete rewrite. I also sent you an email recommending that you not use her for your editing work. You replied to me that you had "a whole slew of people besides Anna helping me with the editing of my book."

Now that's okay. It's your book and you should make your own decisions. But don't come on here recommending someone whose work I have already rejected when you know that is the case.

MM
Mason--

You make it sound as if Tommy was trying to distance himself from Anna's work in his email to you. Given the praise in Tommy's last post, and given the fact that Tommy's book (with Anna's help) is extraordinarily well-written by poker literature standards, I would be surprised if this were actually the case. Was that actually the purpose of Tommy's email to you?

All my best,

--Nate

PS -- To anyone who didn't visit Anna's site... it is a bit "new age"-y, but the "fears and anxieties" quote does not come from Anna but from a testimonial. Given everything I know, I don't doubt that she does good work.

Last edited by Nate.; 02-10-2009 at 12:35 AM.
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Old 02-10-2009, 12:44 AM   #106
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Anna Paradox, who, according to her web site, is some sort of life coach that will help you with your "fears and anxieties," was also used as an editor on another book that we published. The manuscript that we received was written so badly that that it had to be returned to the authors for a complete rewrite. I also sent you an email recommending that you not use her for your editing work. You replied to me that you had "a whole slew of people besides Anna helping me with the editing of my book."

Now that's okay. It's your book and you should make your own decisions. But don't come on here recommending someone whose work I have already rejected when you know that is the case.

MM
  1. It doesn't look like a recommendation to me. He praised her, but even in doing that wasn't specifically saying she was a great editor -- more that she was helpful to him.
  2. Your last sentence reads as if you're giving an order -- that you're prohibiting him from making some scandalously bad statement in this forum. Are you saying that if he were recommending her work, that would be prohibited because you have made clear (in rejecting her work, and in private conversations that you now choose to air) that you do not agree that she is worth recommending?
  3. Your inclusion of the reference to her web site seems designed simply to add to your disparagement of her -- "some sort of life coach", with the "fears and anxieties" part in quotation marks, certainly reads that way to me. Moreover, it did not advance your points, which seem to be that she is a poor editor and that Tommy is somehow out of line for saying otherwise. I would like to think that most of the readers of this forum are astute enough not to be swayed by such tangential innuendo.
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Old 02-10-2009, 01:12 AM   #107
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by atakdog View Post
  1. It doesn't look like a recommendation to me. He praised her, but even in doing that wasn't specifically saying she was a great editor -- more that she was helpful to him.
  2. Your last sentence reads as if you're giving an order -- that you're prohibiting him from making some scandalously bad statement in this forum. Are you saying that if he were recommending her work, that would be prohibited because you have made clear (in rejecting her work, and in private conversations that you now choose to air) that you do not agree that she is worth recommending?
  3. Your inclusion of the reference to her web site seems designed simply to add to your disparagement of her -- "some sort of life coach", with the "fears and anxieties" part in quotation marks, certainly reads that way to me. Moreover, it did not advance your points, which seem to be that she is a poor editor and that Tommy is somehow out of line for saying otherwise. I would like to think that most of the readers of this forum are astute enough not to be swayed by such tangential innuendo.
No. We had to return a complete manuscript back to the authors for a complete rewrite and in the "Acknowledgements" the authors were praising this person as a "good editor." (This was removed from the published edition.)

There are many writers who are now coming to our site, and particualrly to this forum. Some of these people are relatively new and need editors (as most writers, including myself, do). So I want to make it clear that the person mentioned, who Angelo calls "my ace in the hole," is someone whose work I found unacceptable. This should be known by anyone who now may be considering using this person.

MM
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Old 02-10-2009, 01:35 AM   #108
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

I have already stated that I didn't like the writing or the content. I am happy for Tommy that so many here found his book helpful. He seems like a nice guy. However, without going over the content or the quality of the writing, I must point out something I find unequivocal; the book is redundant. A good editor would have prevented the numerous repetitive expressions of the same idea.

I am not a good writer. However, I work with writers daily. I know good writing, and good editing. I personally spend millions of dollars each year hiring writers as part of my business.

Two things are clear from this thread. Mason did not like the EOP. Most of the posters liked the book. I am not sure that there is more to discuss. Before this gets ugly I think the thread should die.
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Old 02-10-2009, 02:06 AM   #109
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by amulet View Post
I have already stated that I didn't like the writing or the content. I am happy for Tommy that so many here found his book helpful. He seems like a nice guy. However, without going over the content or the quality of the writing, I must point out something I find unequivocal; the book is redundant. A good editor would have prevented the numerous repetitive expressions of the same idea.

I am not a good writer. However, I work with writers daily. I know good writing, and good editing. I personally spend millions of dollars each year hiring writers as part of my business.

Two things are clear from this thread. Mason did not like the EOP. Most of the posters liked the book. I am not sure that there is more to discuss. Before this gets ugly I think the thread should die.
Hi Amulet:

I agree, and I'm going to lock this thread. The problems we had with this particular editor really have nothing to do with the content of the book which is where my review of it was directed.

Best wishes,
Mason
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