Life as a Poker Player (08:34)
Vanessa Selbst describes a year in her life as a poker player, which includes travelling the world, playing tournaments, and running her non-profit. A game may last several 12-hour days, during which time players are completely immersed in the game—people play for the love of the game, more so than to gamble. Selbst describes the different tiers of a tournament and her relationships with the other players.
Discussion of Strategy (06:46)
Selbst explains that her generation learned from playing poker online, where there was much open discussion about strategy. In the tournament environment, players are a lot more guarded about what they share, and even personal information can be used against an opponent. Selbst grew up playing card games all the time, and her parents were serious bridge players, so focus on a game and competitiveness runs in her family.
Social Cooperation (08:13)
Selbst describes the social agreements and norms of poker, most of which players respect. She prefers to play tournaments closer to home because it is easier to understand and read players, and thus make judgements about an opponent's background and how this will affect their playing. John D. Mayer adds that everyone makes initial judgement and categorizes, but then goes on to distinguish the individual from others.
Mathematical Reasoning (07:53)
In a game of poker, the players have incomplete information; Selbst explains that the game involves figuring out the opponent’s hand, figuring out what they think you have, and then understanding how your hand fits and what to do. The math involved is analytical and deductive logic, as well as making calculations to find the percentage chance of a certain hand or play.
Probability and Risk in Everyday Life (11:17)
Selbst argues that predicting her opponent’s next move depends on how they have played in previous games and what they have done with certain hands. She is able to recognize patterns in behavior quickly and anticipate actions based on the patterns. Mayer speculates about the focus it must require to perform so many judgements and calculations, but Selbst claims that it is how she interacts with the world, and comes naturally.
Credits: Poker Player (00:05)
Credits: Poker Player
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