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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)


Problems Handling Winning

I love titles that look like silly statements. Problems handling winning? How can this be? Isn’t like wondering whether one could deal with falling in love, hitting the lottery, finding a diamond under a bush on the lawn? How can there be problems here?

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Monsters Under the Bed

It occurred to me the other day that I rarely write about “good” things in these columns. In fact, without doing any careful analysis, my sense is that I write about “bad” stuff about ten times as often as I write about “good” stuff.

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There Is (Probably) No “Best” Way to Play Poker

The title is either transparently true or patently false —- depending on your point of view, and the game you’re playing. I think it’s more true than false, once we specify the circumstances. In a live, cash game or a multi-table tournament played No Limit or Pot Limit, I think it’s deeply and importantly true, if not (yet) demonstrably so from a game theoretic perspective.

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‘Bot’ This Too

Last column we discussed issues raised by the recent successes of a poker ‘bot’ named Polaris. This device is a sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) program, and the brainchild of the Computer Poker Research Group at the University of Alberta in Calgary. It plays limit Hold ‘Em (LH) about as well as any sentient human and has earned its stripes by beating several experienced professionals in heads-up play. We’ve already examined a number of features of the bot itself. Here I’d like to explore some of the psychological factors of man vs. machine play.

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Irony in Action

You’re in a tough $5/10 NLH game. You know the guy in the checkered shirt in seat 8. Solid, unimaginative, with little trick in his game. He’s just pushed a stack of greenies at you on the river. You missed your draw; you’ve got middle pair and, basically, can only beat a bluff.

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