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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)


‘Bot’ This

Most serious poker plays, especially those who play on-line are aware of the existence of “bots.” “Bot” is short for “robot” and the species of interest are those designed to play poker. A bot is, properly, an artificial intelligence (AI), a sophisticated piece of software that not only is programmed to make optimal decisions, but learns from its experiences.

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Why Do We Play Poker?

A poker article I ran across recently in a respected magazine began with this ‘buzz line:’ “The object of poker is to win the most money. That’s it - that is your goal. That’s why you’re playing poker.” Now, of course, this sentiment wasn’t just discovered by this particular writer. If you flip through poker books, poker columns, videos, instructional tapes, blogs, you name it, you will see it repeated over and over again. It has become a mantra, almost like a religious chant, assumed to be true and never challenged. Well, heretic that I am, I’d like to challenge it here because, frankly, it just isn’t true. The vast majority do not play poker to win the most money. In fact, the vast majority do not play poker to win money at all, let alone “the most.” Oh, don’t get me wrong, we all like to win, hope we will win and surely anticipate doing such each time we buy chips but, you know, I don’t really think that winning money is why so many millions play.

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The Cards You Are Dealt

Today’s column is a short dissertation on a banality. It’ll seem stupid at first but bear with me, there’re useful poker nuggets here. The banality: You can’t do anything about the cards you are dealt. Now I know that everyone who has played even a little poker knows this is true – but few act like it. Many complain endlessly about their bad luck, cry about their rotten cards, agonize over the endless hours missing countless flops, of getting sucked out on by bozos calling on a wing and a prayer.

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I’ve spent over forty years living two parallel lives. In one I am degenerate gambler, a horse player and a poker junkie; in the other, a respected scientist. I’ve kept them separate mainly because my colleagues in each have little appreciation for the wonder, the complexities and the just full-bore fun in the other.

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The Final Hour

OK, so the title sounds somewhat apocalyptic. That’s okay; I thought it might help get your attention. Of course, the final hour of a poker session is less cosmic and certainly less dramatic than it would be in a sci-fi novel or an end-of-the-world movie. But most players have no idea how dangerous that final hour can be. Over the years I have watched more players make more mistakes, cost themselves more money, and self-inflict more grief during these final 60 or so minutes than you can imagine. There are psychological reasons for this and if we understand them perhaps we can prevent future occurrences. I hope you noticed that “we” in the preceding —- that’s because I include myself in that category of those who’ve screwed up during the last couple of orbits before cashing out.

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