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Arthur S. ReberI’ve spent over fifty years living two parallel lives. In one I am a semi-degenerate gambler, a poker junkie, horse player, and blackjack maven; in the other, a scientist specializing in cognitive psychology and related topics in the neurosciences, the origins of consciousness and the philosophy of mind. For the most part, I’ve kept these tracks separate mainly because my colleagues in each have little appreciation for the wonder, the complexities and the just full-bore fun in the other.

But over time these two avenues of my life have meshed. There’s a lot that we know about human psychology that can give us insight into gambling, especially poker and, of course, there’s a lot that poker can teach us about human psychology. It is quite astonishing how richly these topics interlock. I’ll also introduce you to some engaging characters I’ve known – bookies, con artists, hustlers, professional poker players and perhaps an occasional famous scientist.

This site will wander about in both worlds with new columns and articles along with links to scores of previously published ones. Now that I’ve retired I’ve become something of a political junkies and will go on rants on politics and economics,  When the mood strikes I’ll share views on food, restaurants and cooking. Any and all feedback is welcome.

Entries in (25)


The Bonehead Play

I get emails, which is nice for a bunch of reasons. First, it means that folks out there are actually reading this stuff. Second, it suggests that what I’m trying to get across is getting across. Third, these emails provide fodder for new columns. And that’s what we’ve got here today. A reader (we’ll call him Max) asked me to go into more detail on the Brain Fart issue (insert url). The question he raised had to do with how to deal with some of the anxieties and tensions that are created in poker, particularly in No Limit Hold ‘Em (NLH) and Pot Limit Omaha (PLO). The ones that goad you into making one of those bonehead plays that are the signature of a Brain Fart.

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Post-flop Play – IV: Sunk-Cost Effect

Continuing with our on and off discussions of post-flop play. As before, we’ll look at a couple of strategic moves dusted with the psychology that helps us understand them. Here are two “don’t” situations, ones where the message is don’t ask for trouble. Avoid problem situations and problem hands. Position and previous action are keys. If you want to make your life a living hell, limp into pots early with hands like K, J and A, 9. And don’t tell me they were suited!

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Post-flop Play – Part III

Let’s continue with our overview of post-flop play. In previous columns we looked at eight fundamental strategic moves. Here are four more. IX. The naked raise on the flop. This ploy is a variation on the float play (see Part II) in that it takes advantage of an aggressive player who has likely missed the flop. The principle behind it the same one that motivates the float: most flops miss most hands.

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This is the age of advice and poker is no exception. The number of books on the game reaches well into the hundreds. Every poker magazine, newspaper, tabloid, web site has an advice column, sometimes more than one (here on Poker Listings we have quite a few). There are summer schools for students of the game, there are poker boot camps, poker instructional cruises; there are videos and tapes and DVDs on the game. There are chat rooms, poker clubs, discussion groups where regulars argue the game and the latest insights into it. There are pros who are on call for advice (at sometimes astronomical rates), private coaches who can be hired for one-on-one lessons. Sheesh, it is a wonder anyone is left who isn’t an expert. I mean, really, if there aren’t any fish left there isn’t going to be any game.

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When I first started playing poker, the question of confidence never crossed my mind nor, for that matter, anyone else’s. We played by just playing. If we were in good moods, good; if not, not good. But ‘good’ meant our mood and how we felt, personally. The notion that mood might have an impact on the bottom-line wasn’t a consideration.

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