Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Quick segue; My analysis of lawyers vs. engineers in the poker world

I think the following is worthy of a post in and of itself.  I originally posted it over at Jordan's blog, but wanted to recapture it here, as my readers may find it worthy as well.  This could be epic - like the love letters between Abigail & John Adams :-).

[Jordan's post refers to differences between his & mine /omgitsjoshua's approach to the game of poker.]

Digesting what you wrote, I think there is a ton of truth in your evaluation. In my experience, there are two professions that dominate poker: engineers & lawyers. Perhaps this is an offshoot of our chosen professions.

[Jordan] are a lawyer by trade, with a superb understanding of game theory. It is what they teach you in law school (among other things), and it is what you use in your non-poker life. Your goal is two bring two or more parties together to reach an agreement. I think the game theory world very much delves into psychology, akin to your artist analogy above… the classic left / right half of your brain (don’t know which it is).

In contrast, I, as the career engineer, approach the game in much the same way I approach my job. I look at a poker hand as a problem to be solved. There is an optimal solution that I am intent on finding. I use logic and numbers to get there, as those are the tools I was taught to use in my schooling.

I happen to think the engineer works much better in the online poker setting, whereas the lawyer works better in the live poker setting. The lawyer can gain a feel for an opponent’s mood or feelings, while the engineer can quickly dissect a situation based on the numbers on the screen in front of him. However, the two are not mutually exclusive; they mix constantly, which is where our conversation spawned.

Back to the main point of my response: I look at Tom Dwan and Phil Galfond as yardsticks. My goal in my poker ‘career” is to be like either of them or eLkY or any of the other young guns. Phil & Tom, for example, have a “stable” of poker players, each other as the core, to bounce ideas off of, replay hands, discuss thoughts and talk general philosophy. Side note: While I think a lot of the “diversity inclusion” in corporate culture nowadays is a TON OF BS, I think it lends itself nicely to the poker table.

The reality is, most of my friends are in engineering-related / technical fields. Among us, we can have differing opinions, but it always comes back to statistics and number-crunching. Including you in the mix begins to get that “diversity inclusion” that is so needed in the conversation. It’s a win-win for all parties involved; you gain a better technical understanding, while the engineers gain a game theory / psychology perspective.
As you get more into online poker and I into live poker, I think the trade becomes more & more critical. So there I stand; I have put my cards on the proverbial table :-) . Looks like we have a match.

Standard disclaimer / “Diversity inclusion”: I am making a broad generalization about the law / engineer professions dominating the world of poker. In my experience, I have found that the better poker player are in those lines of work, but that does not necessarily exclude other professions from succeeding. Obviously, there are TONS of exceptions!

Note: I will update this post if there is more conversation to follow.  Alternatively, you can follow the conversation on Jordan's blog.

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