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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Monday, 25 September 2006
'Getting in cheap'.
Topic: Poker

There's a book for sale in a glass cabinet in the Vic's card room with a title I find amusing. It's called Win your way into big money hold'em tournaments. It amuses me, because I can't stop wondering how that's any different to 'Win money'. After all, if you win enough money playing poker in any of its forms, you can use it to enter a big tournament. It doesn't have to be earned in a satellite. I've had this debate with many people before and I even wrote about it for the Gutshot site. 

There were times when I wanted to shout 'Money is fungible!', but it would have been no use, because it wouldn't have meant much to most people. But I came across an article on the FT website today that uses almost the exact same remark ( "Money is a fungible commodity" ). The article is worth reading, because it touches on the same illogical behaviour in consumer spending that people tell me about in poker.

Instead of 'I'll play a big comp if I can get in cheap through a satellite, but if I won the cash I wouldn't buy the ticket with it', it's the idea that people will spend a casino cash win on a frivolous purchase, but would spend money inherited from a dead relative on something sensible. The difference derives from what the author calls the 'mental account'. Put simply: "We put a different value on money depending on the source of funds".

It may derive from some evolutionary programming in our minds, but it's illogical nonetheless. That's why I have a problem with super-sats. They seem to require the willing suspension of disbelief, rather like watching a ventriloquist with a dummy. The fun is gone if you see straight through the act. There are a few reasons why playing a satellite or super-satellite might be a good idea and I am going to give some thought to them this week. But in general, remember that money is fungible and 'getting in cheap' is a myth, particularly when there is a vibrant secondary market for tickets and your decision to play the event in question instead of selling means you've forgone the money that you could have sold the ticket for.

_ DY at 9:46 PM BST
Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006 4:08 PM BST
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