A Glimpse Into the Stubborn Psychology of Fish

1 post / 0 new
ashvinp's picture
ashvinp
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 20 2010
Posts: 412
A Glimpse Into the Stubborn Psychology of Fish

A piece analogizing the mainstream denial of socioeconomic trends in the developed world to the psychology of poker players referred to as "fish".

Quote:

"Poker may be a branch of psychological warfare, an art form or indeed a way of life – but it is also merely a game, in which money is simply the means of keeping score." - Anthony Holden

For those unfamiliar with the game of poker, it is essentially a game where players attempt to win money from other players at their table by having the best five-card hand at showdown or by betting their opponents off of the best hand. The most popular form of poker is Texas Hold Em', in which each player is dealt two "hole cards" followed by a round of betting, then a three-card "flop" followed with another round of betting, a one-card "turn" with betting, and finally a one-card "river" with the last round of betting. Each player can, but is not required to, use one or both of their hole cards, and must use 3-5 cards on the board, to construct their best possible five-card hand (from best to worst - straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two-pair, pair, high card).

What makes poker a profitable venture for "solid" players, unlike blackjack, craps or roulette, is their opportunity to capitalize on the mental mistakes of other players, by accurately "reading" the opponent's potential range of hole cards in any given hand (mostly from betting patterns and style of play), and accurately calculating the "pot odds" they are being laid (money that must be put in on the present and future betting rounds as a percentage of money that could be won from the pot). The pot odds calculation allows the solid player to determine the best course of action (bet, call, raise, fold) by comparing it to the equity his/her hand carries against the opponent's range.

Any course of action offering positive expected value (pot odds > odds of breaking even against opponent's range) should be taken, and ideally the single course of action offering maximum EV is the one that will be chosen. It is not easy to precisely determine the expected value of any given decision, especially when your facing a new opponent, but the toughest part of playing a solid game is remaining disciplined, unemotional and objective throughout an entire hours or days-long session . The solid player can never let the play or words of weaker opponents introduce any elements of self-doubt into his mind, since this fundamental uncertainty will eventually snowball into a situation where the once-solid player no longer has any reason to believe that he/she is playing any better than the rest of the table.

The opponents every solid player wants to find at his/her table are called "fish" (aka "calling stations"), because they play a large range of hands before the flop and tend to call large bets (as a % of the pot) after the flop with weak hands (high card, single pair) or draws (to a straight or flush). These players are typically very passive, meaning they almost always prefer to just call with their hands (weak and strong) rather than raise, making them an ideal opponent. When you make a decent five-card hand, you keep betting it for value against the fish, and if the fish raises your bet, then you fold everything but the strongest hands.

Full piece - http://peakcomplexity.blogspot.com/2011/02/glimpse-into-stubborn-psychology-of.html

Login or Register to post comments