Win some, lose some, it’s all the same to me

The New York Times had an interesting piece this week profiling top online poker player Daniel Cates, and seeking to identify the secret of his success. The short answer seems to be “Asperger Syndrome“, but the details of how hours spent playing resource-management games like Command and Conquer sharpen the skills needed to triumph at the virtual card tables are certainly fascinating.

The key message though is that even a good player is at the mercy of fortune, and skill will only out over the course of thousands of hands, with many a losing streak along the way. It evidently helps to be able to see money as just an abstract way of keeping score rather than something actually valuable, especially when one can lose over $4 million in a few hours.

My own poker habit is nowhere near that level thankfully; I don’t win, but I lose slowly enough that it qualifies as cheap entertainment. Even when the cards don’t fall my way it can still be fun – just the other day I went all-in with a King-high flush only to see my opponent turn over the Ace, but I was able to smile at the thought of him gathering in my cash while whistling the greatest song about gambling ever written.

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