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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Monday, 22 January 2007
Poker as a platform game.
Topic: Poker

And so we say farewell to Bluescouse over at 88% Concentration. I’m very much a late arrival to the party here, having only caught on to his blog in the last month. I wish I’d jumped on for the ride sooner. For those who don’t know his story, the gist is that he’s a teenager in Wales who plays online and has in the past managed to win huge sums having started small and continually parlayed up to bigger and bigger games. At one stage he had his bankroll up to about £170k, but inevitably perhaps, when his lucky streak ended and he experienced the normal run of bad luck that all of us get at some point, he wiped out the lot.


Undeterred, he cashed in his ISA and proceeded to give that a spin. That got him a fair amount of negative feedback. Yesterday he saw the light and decided to quit. He blames the pressure of impressing his father and his loyal readership for some of the mistakes he’s made, but as he's got no understanding of money management, I don’t think he would have lasted even without that pressure.


He’s not alone. I’ve heard of others who done something similar. One south of England player springs to mind. He has run his net worth up to over £200k a couple of times, and up to lesser levels of £50k and £100k several times too – always going completely broke within months. Given that I can think of many ways that my life would be improved by having more money, I struggle to understand people like this. Both the people I’ve mentioned so far live with their parents! Couldn't they at least rent an apartment for themselves? That’s got to be the dream of any person under 30, surely?


I don’t think of them as compulsive gamblers. Although I’ve met several compulsive types in casinos, I really don’t think that poker lends itself to compulsive behaviour. It’s just too slow. The casino games of roulette and craps are far faster. You don’t have to wait as long for the resolution of any given bet. So what is going on with these people? One possible answer was suggested to me by Matt Arnott. We were discussing these guys at the Western when he suddenly said:


It’s like they’re playing Super Mario Brothers!


Of course; that’s how they see it. The challenge isn’t to raise your standard of living. It’s not to increase your income. It’s not to achieve financial and personal independence. Their aim is simply to get to the next level or die trying. That led to a discussion of who must be the final ‘boss’ to beat at the end before they could quit. Matt suggests Gus Hansen, but I’d make it Ben Roberts.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007 - 5:45 PM GMT

Name: "David Young"

Andy Ward has e-mailed me from Nevada. My thoughts will follow.

Hi David,
Interesting piece.  I have been following Bluescouse for a while.  When he was playing on profit it was a very entertaining read.  Once he basically blew all the profit and started fucking around with loans and ISAs it was much more unpleasant and trainwreck-like.  The problem is he said he would quit once before.  He has repeatedly said things like "I'm not playing £25-50 again" and two days later he's doing exactly that.  I fear that he is going to be unable to stay away.
What you say about it just being a game though, yes, exactly.  That's exactly it.  If I can give you something else to think about, I believe that many company owners and millionaires in the world of business/politics are playing a game in just the same way.  It's not about money, it's about making the next level, moving up to the next hundred million, outscoring the leader of the opposition or your competitor's CEO.  And this is why I think the rich should be taxed more or, at the very least, why they should be pressed harder to cough up and stop evading it, even if what they do with offshore accounts and so on is technically legal.
PS Feel free to post and answer on your blog if you like.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007 - 11:00 PM GMT

Name: "David Young"

Not sure I follow you at all there. You're saying that because some company owners favour personal aggrandisement over profit or whatever is for the best in politics (who decides that?), they should pay more tax? I do not see how this follows. I've tried to think of a counter-argument but keep getting stuck because I don't understand the argument I am supposed to be countering.

Sunday, 28 January 2007 - 1:47 AM GMT

Name: "riverdave"
Home Page: http://From Brick Lane to Park Lane

An interesting analysis and in some ways very true. However i disagree about the final boss Ben Roberts doesn't play big enough online to be the final boss and Gus Hansen isn't good enough in cash games. My own nemesis recently has been Rob Hollink who is certainly the 25/50 boss and to a lesser extent William Thorson but the final boss would have to be Patrick Antonius at the moment.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007 - 1:20 PM GMT

Name: "David Young"

Hi Dave, only just noticed your comment. You didn't have to grass yourself up! Good luck with platform poker anyway.


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