Daryl Jace

Teacher, Blogger, Poker player.

Biased experience and luck in poker

By GLAS-8 link to  picture

By GLAS-8 link to picture

The problem with learning from experience is that we don't just take in information unbiasedly, we color it and shape it with ideas we had going into it. This is why 2 people can watch the same thing happen and have an entirely different perspective. It's why when I coach introverted shy types they are inclined to remember the bad shit that happens and think and vice versa for extroverts/outgoing people.


For example, a student said to me whenever I bluff the river I get called, that's why I don't bluff. So I went through his hand database and showed him what happened every time he bet river in the past year orso. Turns out he got folds over 60% of the time. How could his memory be so backwards? The times he bet river and got folds weren’t strong memories but bluffing and getting called was because it was painful. 


I coached an extrovert who did the same thing but in reverse. He loved to spew and thought his bluffs worked great but upon actually looking at it they didn’t. The different between the two types of people above are that when the introvert loses he places too much blame on himself and the extrovert places too much blame on bad luck.  


The amount of luck in poker rivals any other profession in my opinion. It's not just making good plays and losing and vice versa it's that  you can also make marginal plays (either small gain or loss) and instead get a huge loss or huge win. You can make a hugely profitable or unprofitable play but only show a small profit or loss.  


Every hand that you win or lose is unfair. Even if you get all in with AA vs 72o you're only supposed to win the pot 90% of the time, which means you are owed 90% of the pot. So when you win and get 100% of the pot it’s an inequity. The same goes for the guy with 72o getting 0 instead of 10.


If you bluff the river and get a fold you win 100% of the pot but you almost certainly won too much unless your opponent has no calling hands in his range (rare). You can call a river bet vs someone bluffing 95% of the time and he can show up with the nuts. Even If he had air you were only entitled to 95% of the pot but u got 100. Even when you try to steal the blinds and succeed it’s an inequity. A lot of this luck you can't see unless you know how to look. If you  make a bluff that's supposed to work 95% of the time and get called, it's easy to think you made a mistake. The same goes for a bad bluff that works, it's easier to say to yourself "I made a great play" rather than ask "Was that a good play or did I get unlucky? How do I find out?"


It’s hard to trust experience when every single hand is an inequity. Trying to make sense of the game based on experience alone is not impossible but most people fail i’d guess. 


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A different argument on Trump v Clinton v Sanders

This is going to be a pretty different post on politics. I read a lot, and try to learn a lot and the thing that is really starting to bug me is seriousness and this need to be right. This need to come to a conclusion. It takes all the fun out of it. I believe there needs to be a balance and I’d like to go to the complete opposite extreme. These posts are unedited, grammatically incorrect and I’m sure I’ll say some stupid shit. It doesn’t come to clear cut answers but I do give some opinions. 


So for example Trump, everyone thinks he’s terrible and there are some people who think he will bring about positive change through chaos destruction and revolution! Then people try to tell them why they’re wrong or disagree. I haven’t seen anyone make the obvious argument tho (perhaps it’s not that obvious). That chaotic situations are ummmm chaotic and not really predictable. Yes Trump can bring about some really positive change by fucking up miserably and perhaps hilariously but he can also bring about awful things like nuclear war. Similarly I can shove 72o utg for 100bb and guess what I now have the chance to make 100bb with 72 can u believe it! Most people make 0 or lose an ante. 


At least when I shove with the 72 there are only 3-4 outcomes, I can double, bust, triple or chop. With Trump there are infinite different outcomes. INFINITE! We live in an extreme world where crazy shit happens and small changes can have a huge effect (butterfly effect). People who think that can predict these things are fooling themselves. Economists are paid to predict these things but I view most of them as modern day alchemists. 


I think the only thing you can say with confidence about a Trump presidency is that something radical will happen. I don’t think a Bernie president will be so cut and dried either. We can’t really know what the affects of these radical changes will be. Take his tax plan, do we really know how corporations are going to respond to him raising taxes on them? What about education, he wants free education for all but how will the universities react to this, they are just businesses after all (some are public I guess). The teachers?  Doesn’t the value of a college degree go down the more people that have one? If i have a finance degree wouldn’t I prefer if only 1k other people had one rather than 100k when looking for a job? How are they going to meet the increasing demand? Bigger classrooms? Will they have to decrease quality with the increasing demand? What will happen to the people who just have a high school degree, aren’t they fucked now because way more ppl will have a college degree in the future. That equals less job prospects and lower pay for them. I haven’t gotten as deep as I can go here, it’s fucking complicated. I haven’t even gotten to how doctors, hospitals corporations will respond to free health care. Shits complicated man you can’t predict what’s going to happen. 


What about Clinton though, she is probably the lowest variance candidate unless you think establishment politics is inevitably leading to the US’s downfall. Which is a decent argument. Perhaps though with 4 more years of a crappy government the Bernie type movement will be more effective. What if Bernie gets 4 years now and fails due to bad luck or a BLACK SWAN event, what will that do to the movement. To be honest I don’t care to talk about Hilary much because she’s so dishonest and plays politics like a game and switches sides whenever she deems it optimal. I respect the gamesmanship as a poker player but I don’t think it has a place in politics. 


I think personally Bernie is the person I’d vote for(if I wasn’t lazy and took the time to actually register to vote) and not because I KNOW whats going to happen if he wins but because I think he is intelligent, honest and a virtuous man. He’d be a pretty cool dad or person to have in your life whereas I’d hate having Clinton or Trump as an authority figure or parent in my life. I don’t respect them as people. There are definitely someone rolling their eyes at this remark and that’s fine, I realize it’s not a solid logical argument, but it’s how I felt at the time so I typed it out. 


I’m not here to impress anyone with perfectly sounding logical arguments. I do this because I enjoy it and like putting my opinions out there and showing there is another way to think and write. That thinking can be fun and flowing and random, tangential and even wrong and still be worthwhile.


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Random Rant: On whatever I feel like

Disclaimer: Random Rants have minimal editing and a general disregard for flow


I'm just going to riff a bit here cuz I need to get some things out and not over think it. I'm tired of this going around and around in circles and questioning everything. My thought process goes something like this "Well should I write this post? Why am I writing this post? Whats the point? Who's it for? Me, I want to express myself. But if u want to express yourself why do u need to put it out there in blog form. Well I want to express myself to others? Why? Idk. Does that make sense? 


As you can see this kind of thinking gets me nowhere, it just begets more and more questions and leads to inaction, frustration and confusion. Im not sure why these questions are so shitty when they seem like reasonable questions. You know like why do u want to do what u r doing? What r u doing it for. Seems like a simple question but it's not if u keep asking why over and over again like a little kid. Asking why a lot can be good but not in this way because you never get to an ending. There are always more why's, I wouldn't be surprised if I can keep this cycle of why's going for 10 years on this 1 question. 


So what do you do? I'm not sure but I'm here writing, perhaps this isn't the best thing for me to do right now and perhaps I shouldn't post it. I can't truly know if I'm right or wrong so I'm going to assume it's neutral and try to enjoy it the best I can. I think a lot of decisions are like that. Trying to figure out what's right or wrong for you is often just a waste of time. The solution to this, I'm sooooo tempted to say is to " just do what u feel like" but then my brain starts to think of 20938902 counter arguments and it starts to hurt. So I won't say that. The world isn't very neat, at least not to me it isn't. I'm tired of pretending like I know, even when I actively try to act like I don't know my mind goes there. 


I don't know anything, if writing this blog is good, if I should write something else, if it should be posted or not. The only thing I'm confident in, is that you probably shouldn't vote for Trump but then again I can see that working out too. Whatever working out means. My mind is so anxious with just the potential idea I might publish this. All I know is that this kind of thinking just sucks and is a waste of time and that time is precious. I don't recommend wasting it doing bullshit. It's crazy the time I waste day in and day out on a regular basis. 


For example, just 1 minute ago I had to close this blog post because my mind can't handle the idea of publishing it. It's saying stuff like, oh don't make another EMO post you're beyond that, this is going to look weird, what possible value can this have to anyone, isn't there a better use of your time. You aren't going to publish this right. Then the other part of my brain is saying, don't think about it, you're not going to publish this. You're just venting. Relax. Even if u did whats the big deal. It's extremely exhausting. I don't know how to solve this problem. Maybe making the post and seeing the results. That would be cool. What are the results you're looking for tho? My brain goes back to the infinite question loop. 


If you think analytically or logically I think you can empathize on some level with what I just posted here. It's the reason for so much depression, sadness and non doing. It's not fun but once you become a "rational thinker" it's hard to close that box. Silencing the mind is great even for a few seconds, it's a nice welcome brief reprieve of peace. This is probably why intuitive types hate thinking because they view it like this. I don't think this is "Real Thinking" though, I view Real thinking like art, it's flowing, its expression, it's interesting you don't know where it will lead you, you don't have any specific goal in mind, when you meet with resistance or get stuck you gently move to the side and continue on unimpeded, just relaxed flowing. 


It's a shame that most people don't get to experience this or understand what it's like. Real thinking to me has no right or wrong, it starts out with no set objective, there are rules and guidelines and once you know them it flows easily. Just like art, if you want to make good art u need to know the fundamentals, it doesn't matter how well you flow. I was at some hipster coffee shop in Boston and somehow ended up drawing with some dude their who was an "artist". He told me to just make it intuitive there is no right or wrong and so I did. I'd draw for a min then he'd draw for a minute and he'd often make these technical and fundamental fixes to my drawings to make them look better. He had solid technique from practice and applied it to my crappy drawings. I wondered if you can do that for thinking, have some who thinks shittily (for lack of a better word) and gently guide him and give him structure, shape his thoughts in a correct pattern, let him see how close he was, how he can get there with a lil nudge in the right direction. 


I think that's what real 1 on 1 teaching is, being so attuned, understanding your opponent - I mean student so deeply, all the nuances, all the unsaid things, what he really feels and thinks, all the subtleties in what he says, the tone, the exact words he uses, the cadence, the emotion, and so on. Then finding the perfect way to slightly nudge him on track, so everything starts flowing correctly again like water through a stream, u know as if a boulder or a small rock was impeding the flow. 


I don't think anyone views it this way but that's how i view it when I'm doing it at my highest level. Of course I don't get there nearly enough and it takes time and continuity and presence. I think it's very much like - no exactly like my poker game when I'm in peak mode. It's complete focus, complete disregard for the rules and everything to do with my opponents. I watch everything they do and don't do, down to the minutest detail I can think of and internalize it, I get in their heads and know what they're thinking, what they're going to do, how they perceive me. It's the reason I love poker, it's what I feel poker is like in it's purest form, it's what I think teaching is like in it's purest form. The end. 


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What is "The Good Life" and the work/life balance dilemma

"There is one thing all of us have in common - we all want to live a good life but most of us don’t spend much time, if any, figuring out how to do that." - Me (and prob 232435435 others before me)


The thing is life is like poker (well poker is like life) if you don’t spend a lot of time working on it you’ll probably suck at it and the thing is, most people spend very little time, if any working on it. I view life as a super complex game where even figuring out what it even means to be winning is a challenge.


When I was 14-22 years old I thought it was all about being the best at poker (lol), then after that it was all about being successful at work, a life of service to others (education to be specific) and being great at everything. It has certainly led to happiness but it also led to depression and the last 18 months have been some of the worst of my life. At the root of it was the work/life balance dilemma, I always felt like I was sacrificing one when I was doing the other and it took away from my happiness or my impact every in all areas of my life (more on that later). 


When life keeps kicking you in the dick you start to question things and so I did; namely what is a successful life and where did my ideas of success come from? I think most of “my” ideas of success (especially early on) were heavily influenced by others; like my parents, the media, movies, school, and even the government (their policies affect social norms).  You can’t play the game well if what your playing it for is based mostly on the aforementioned things rather than through reflection, conversation and reading some of the greatest thinkers in the world. 


From these reflections, readings and conversations I came to 2 important conclustions: 1) the main metric we should use to determine how well we’re doing (impact) is how much happiness I’m creating for myself/others because “It’s the only thing you want in and of itself” my buddy Colin put it simply. You don’t want clothes, money, fame etc. you want the feelings you think it would bring. 2) Time isn’t everything, in fact impact is more important because time spent without impact is useless. Time is also finite and therefore limiting, whereas our potential impact is probably infinite.


Two days ago though it became so much clearer, I stumbled upon Maria Popova’s blog (which is the best thing ever) the main theme of it is how to live the good life; in a post called David Whyte on How to Break the Tyranny of Work/Life Balance which is an annotation of his book, Whyte says work/life balance is a "phrase that often becomes a lash with which we punish ourselves” Then adds: 


“The current understanding of work-life balance is too simplistic. People find it hard to balance work with family, family with self, because it might not be a question of balance. Some other dynamic is in play, something to do with a very human attempt at happiness that does not quantify different parts of life and then set them against one another. We are collectively exhausted because of our inability to hold competing parts of ourselves together in a more integrated way.


These are the three marriages, of Work, Self and Other.


We can call these three separate commitments marriages because at their core they are usually lifelong commitments and … they involve vows made either consciously or unconsciously… To neglect any one of the three marriages is to impoverish them all, because they are not actually separate commitments but different expressions of the way each individual belongs to the world.


We should stop thinking in terms of work-life balance. Work-life balance is a concept that has us simply lashing ourselves on the back and working too hard in each of the three commitments. In the ensuing exhaustion we ultimately give up on one or more of them to gain an easier life."


I was a bit skeptical at first but when I looked back at my life I feel like I’ve experienced this same phenomenon. When I neglected my marriage for the sake of work (a common theme in my life) it helped in the short term but in the long term it helped lead to (if not directly caused it) the marriage falling apart and as a result my work suffered considerably and for a long time (I think any person who’s married or in a serious relationship can attest to this). On the positive side when things were going well my wife was my muse, my engine for personal growth,a source of calm and a reset button of sorts that enabled me to boost my impact/output. The same goes for my friends, they helped me grow and learn so much in all 3 areas of life, so much so that I don’t think I’d be anywhere without them (same goes for the wifey)


When I neglected work I couldn’t be present and happy in any situation, in the back of my mind was all the stuff I could be doing instead. Which affected my presence and thus my impact/output in all situations. It affected my mood and self esteem too, which obviously led to some bad results. When work went well these problems would go away, I’d actually feel great. 


When I improved upon myself it helped create new relationships and build existing ones. Perhaps surprisingly it helped with work as well. My mind is more clear for other tasks and I decreased the probability of burnout/depression. If you’re a human you know how disastrous this is to all areas of your life. I think a marriage of all 3 of these things is a great way to reduce the chances of this happening to you. It seems clear to me that Whyte was right about the interconnectedness when looking back on my life. So I’m done with the work/life balance dilemma because to quote David Whyte again:

” work and life are not separate things, they can’t be “balanced” against one another; instead, they are best treated as a “movable conversational frontier.” They should be “conversing with, questioning or emboldening the other two.”

I’m still not close to “solving” the game and I don’t know wtf a movable conversational frontier is but I think this is a big step in the right direction. I hope you found this helpful, thanks for reading. 


Ads suck, and I plan to keep this site completely ad free. To do that though, I need your help. I spend 100s of hours of month on this and need to spend a lot of money to improve the site. I ask that if you enjoy what I'm doing on here to consider subscribing to recurring monthly donations or a one time donation. Any amount is appreciated, helpful and motivating. Use the button below to send a one-time or recurring donation via PayPal. All major credit cards accepted. After donating you will be returned to my blog. Thank you!