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  #1  
Old 12-27-2005, 11:26 PM
Chaostracize Chaostracize is offline
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Default Poker story

There's a few forums I could post this on, but I think many here would appreciate it. I don't know who the original author is, but Blarg graciously PMed it to me as per request.

Enjoy.


"I'm sure my story is similar to many other 2+2ers. One morning I was pulled out of my 7th grade English class and told to go to the principal's office. There was a tall man with a briefcase standing next to my mother and father, who were smiling strangely - like they were sad and scared but trying to be brave.

The man's name was Mr. Morgenstern and he told me about his job studying school records looking for children who had a certain rare combination of mathematical ability and pathological aggression. He said these children had a special gift and that no-one is truly happy if they don't reach their full potential.

Then he handed me a deck of cards and told me to say goodbye to my parents.

The Camp I was sent to was a converted boy's school somewhere in the desert. In the mornings we drilled Markov chains and Nash equilibria, in the afternoons we drilled transverse psychology and all the differential calculations of greed and fear necessary to map the currents of the coldest and hottest tables. In the evenings we were given fruit plates and watery cocktails and we played cards.

We slept in staggered 4 hour shifts in blackout curtained cabins. When we couldn't sleep we would sometimes play poker from our bunks, calling out bets and raises while one boy, who kept the entire deck in his head, would shuffle from bunk to bunk whispering hole cards.

And it was no secret many of the boys practiced another kind of hold'em to stave off the lonely chill of those cloudless desert nights.

The Camp had its own baroque hierarchy of influence and respect only loosely associated with the different stakes that we played. We never payed much attention to bankrolls because they were given out and taken back pseudo-randomly by the counsellors. But we knew we knew each other's edges down to the fraction of a degree. And we kept our distance from the "plankton". Every two weeks the mulch at the bottom of the pool would be culled, and a handful of boys would be picked up by shamefaced parents and taken away to careers as investment bankers and computer programmers. This was the only risk of ruin that haunted our nightmares.

Because we had nothing to spend it on we came to view money as a cipher, and we craved it not for its tawdry exchange value but for its ultimate and true meaning as leading indicator in the economics of domination and control.

Eventually it became clear that the counsellors set up our games for something more than educational purposes. Top boys were pitted against each other at tables where the stacks, positions, and temperaments were carefully composed analogues to certain real-world economic and geo-political situations. Through one-way glass the optimal solutions to complex multi-agent dilemmas were recorded by balding men with visors and clipboards.

The internet bubble, for example, corresponded to a ridiculously long run of good cards caught by one "Tubby" Peterson, who eventually went mega-tilt and lost everything in a spectacular reverse rush. Later that night he tried to hang himself but the rope broke.

Certain key confrontations of the Serbo-Croation conflict were modelled with tense heads-up matches between notorious LAG Micky "The Tooth" Chambers and a brilliant but insane little TAG named Steven who was widely rumoured to have kept a severed human finger under his mattress.

Most of us, myself included, had no curiousity about the shadow world behind the mirror. To us these messy scenarios of civil unrest, disease control, and oil prices were just warped reflections of the ideal realm of pips and digits whose combinatory circulation was the alpha and omega of our private, perfect empire.

When I was too old to play they sent me home. I was 15.

Nowadays, I'm allowed to make a certain amount per month, and the counsellors monitor my accounts to make sure my win rate stays sub-anomalous. But to be honest, I'm not sure I'm even capable of breaking that rule anymore. I have a family now and hobbies and interests. I shop, I ski, I watch television. These things, and the pills I take, have dulled my edge enough to make me harmless. I can cut but not kill and so I'm safe.

And I'm happy enough, I guess, to have reached the full potential of something once, though I'm not sure what it was."
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  #2  
Old 12-27-2005, 11:31 PM
yvesaint yvesaint is offline
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Default Re: Poker story

thats pretty neat. i wonder which poker player determined the 2004 us election results
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  #3  
Old 12-28-2005, 12:03 AM
Niwa Niwa is offline
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Default Re: Poker story

good read.
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  #4  
Old 12-28-2005, 04:08 AM
creedofhubris creedofhubris is offline
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Default Re: Poker story

extra points for use of "exchange value"
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  #5  
Old 12-28-2005, 04:35 AM
BirdieLongSocks BirdieLongSocks is offline
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Default Re: Poker story

Awesome.
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  #6  
Old 12-28-2005, 08:30 AM
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Default Re: Poker story

Nice story. Made me think of Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game".
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  #7  
Old 12-28-2005, 10:57 AM
ahnuld ahnuld is offline
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Default Re: Poker story

[ QUOTE ]
Nice story. Made me think of Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game".

[/ QUOTE ]

Me too
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  #8  
Old 12-28-2005, 12:25 PM
tdarko tdarko is offline
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Location: watching channel 9
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Default Re: Poker story

[ QUOTE ]
There's a few forums I could post this on, but I think many here would appreciate it.

[/ QUOTE ]
i think you are right. nice story.
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  #9  
Old 12-28-2005, 01:07 PM
wuwei wuwei is offline
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Default Re: Poker story

[ QUOTE ]
I don't know who the original author is...

[/ QUOTE ]

The author is the inimitable monty cantsin.
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  #10  
Old 12-28-2005, 08:19 PM
EnderW27 EnderW27 is offline
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Default Re: Poker story

[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
Nice story. Made me think of Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game".

[/ QUOTE ]

Me too

[/ QUOTE ]

Not me.
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