Thursday, May 13, 2004


I'm convinced that the attraction of poker, be it online or live games, is the nature of feedback provided to the player.

When you make a decision in a poker game, the just rewards or stiff penalties related to that decision are immediately thrust upon you. Making a big raise to bluff someone out of a pot? Immediate positive feedback as the stack of chips makes its way towards your end of the table. Chasing a draw when you were in fact drawing dead? Immediate negative feedback as your chip pile diminishes.

In real life, the impact of your decisions is not known immediately, perhaps not ever. And these could be major decisions too. Getting married, having kids, which school to go to. Each of those decisions could have a much larger financial impact than whether you choose to raise or fold a hand in Hold 'em. Yet you won't receive any immediate feedback on those decisions, making them much harder.

As humans, I believe we are feedback junkies. I want to know if what I did was right, and I want to know right now. Only poker brings that to us. Thus its potentially addictive nature. Ok, drugs probably do that too, but I can't claim much experience there.

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