Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ATM Woes

I left my ATM card in the ATM machine. Twice in two months...not a good track record.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why isn't there a woman on our blog?

Lately, there've been a few articles crossing my RSS about the differences between men and women--specifically differences in how we think. This is nothing new to either or the world. We've had this conversation, and it can become pretty heated.

Freakonomics cited an article today posing the question "Why didn't a woman write Freakonomics?" Or for that matter, why are women so underrepresented in current serious non-fiction books? Another blogger citing this blog asked why there are hardly any big-name female artists.

Over at the Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer published an article today discussing differences between men and women, particularly with regards to rationality of thought and political decisions. He cites one study that compares the differences in investment strategy between single women, married men, and single women, and rates their rationality in that order. The study concluded:
What they found, in a nutshell, is that men not only trade more often than women but do so from a false faith in their own financial judgment.
It showed (perhaps rather dubiously), that people tended to invest more rationally if there's more female presence in their life (a single man being the least rational, and an actual woman being the most rational).

In a conversation about differences in decision making between men and women, she told me that she believes that men are more emotional and women are more "linear-logical." After some thought, I decided that I could buy into these classifications, but perhaps with some clarification. I believe that men tend to be more instinct oriented--or inclined to make gut decisions, where as women take a more rational route. I am not saying is that men are more emotionally intuitive or empathetic.

One place where I find this particular distinction evident is in playing games with women. Playing poker with men tends to get pretty heated. The great skill of a male poker player is to never go on tilt and to remain rational. Poker is, in the long run, a numbers game, and one's gut response is of negligible consideration. When I've played with women, they go directly to an analytical approach, and instead of running into the game, usually sit back and get a real feel for it. They build a somewhat mathematical model and shun knee-jerk reactions.

Another phenomenon that I've become increasingly aware of is men's love of arguing. Men love to fight--whether about philosophy, politics, sports, or tactics and strategy (I use these terms loosely, as in strategy for fixing the economy or strategy for writing a computer program). Men have long-lasting friendships where there are chronic arguments. These arguments, however, are usually predicated on two different intuitive views of a situation--men will fight about things forever, but in most cases about issues in which they have overblown confidence in their judgment.

I think this same intuitive decision making to which men are predisposed enables them to succeed strongly in academia. One must have a great deal of confidence in his position to write a book or in his perspective to create an art exhibit. This confidence can't result from a rational analysis--it must come from the gut, and must be disproportionally large compared to his actual acumen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

My new perspective on RSS

I deleted Reddit and Boing Boing from my RSS. The only other feed I've removed recently is Andrew Sullivan. I prefer feeds that post once or twice daily, and not these 30+ articles/day aggregators. I like it better when I'm constantly delivered high quality, thought out posts, instead of vapid crap of the internet.

Today, I'm still subscribed to fmylife. FML

If she asked, I'd say yes.

I'd marry this pianist in an instant (2:05 is about when the third movement begins).

She certainly beats my previous favorite for this piece:

Monday, March 16, 2009


settlingthetab.blogspot.com, aged 4 months, 3 days, died on Monday, March 9 at approximately 12:30 AM. The cause of death was boredom. SettlingTheTab struggled much of its life, coping with bad humor and pledges to stop drinking. SettlingTheTab is succeeded by its contributers Chris Kantos, Harsha Dronamraju, Pete Lynch, Nate Haduch, and Robby Ramdin.

Monday, March 9, 2009

My first post

I couldn't decide on a topic for my first post on Settling the Tab, so I went through my recent emails to see what interesting nuggets could be found. Also, I should note that what follows is an example of something that I consider to be "interesting." However, you should proceed only if prepared to be bored by poker minutia...

We're six handed, so my 88 is pretty good against 1 player. It's normally the kind of hand you call the BB with and see a flop, hoping for a set or a particularly favorable texture--typically, a larger pocket pair will have raised. 1010, for instance, has as lot of pre-flop equity, but if you're going against, say, 2 players and don't raise, 1010 is looking for a 2-outer most of the time (probability that there's a card >10 on the flop = 69.5%. So you certainly raise with 1010. 88 is a similar hand but, while dominated by 1010, it plays a called raise much the same way as does 1010 (it's just slightly weaker, becasue 88 is losing to 99 and 1010). The hands that are calling a rasise 6-handed are likely a pocket pair up to 1010 or JJ. JJ or QQ-AA are raising (as, if you're Sean, is AQ [and by extension AK]). AJ is probably calling. Pocket pairs maybe down to 66 or 55 are probably calling (or maybe even raising if the opponent is trying to get tricky).

We both obviously know that you have to use a mixed strategy--if every time you have a mid-pair you limp, your opponents have a really easy time of putting you on a hand and when you do win, you win less. So let's assume, for the sake of argument, that raising with 88 is okay some of the time.

So when you raise with 88, your callers are probably something like 55-JJ, AJ, AQ, and AK. Your raisers are probably something like JJ-AA, AK, AQ, and I'll add in AJ because hey--if Sean thinks AQ is that good, he probably doesn't think a whole lot less of AJ. Maybe (let's say 25% of the time) some other pair (to simplify, let's split the difference between the pairs bigger than 88 and the pairs lower than 88--meaning that for 25% of raises, you have a 50% chance of having the better pocket pair.

So we have:
6 ways to make JJ
6 ways to make QQ
6 ways to make KK
6 ways to make AA
8 ways to make AJ
8 ways to make AQ
8 ways to make AK
...these account for (we're assuming) 75% of hands that have raised.
So we'll assume that there are 12 ways to make a split pot

The only face card that came up on the flop was Q, so suddenly, there are only 3 ways to make QQ with hole cards.

We need to update our preflop-raise breakdown...

6 ways to make JJ (I'm losing to this)
3 ways to make QQ (losing)
6 ways to make KK (losing)
6 ways to make AA (losing)
8 ways to make AJ (winning)
6 ways to make AQ (losing)
8 ways to make AK (winning)

These hands can be made in 43 ways.
We're still using 25% for the probability that the opponent has some other pair, so we'll say that there are 14 ways to make his other hands
I didn't set up my eights on the flop. However, we don't know whether the opponent did (but we do know that the Q has come up, and that case is already covered above. So we need to think about the possibility of a random pair not mentioned above setting up on one of the first two cards of the flop--this comes out to about 8% of the time.

Right now we're dealing with a total of 57 hands:
6/57 opponent has JJ (I'm losing, with about a 8% chance of winning)
3/57 opponent has QQ (drawing dead)
6/57 opponent has KK (losing with 8% chance of winning)
6/57 opponent has AA (losing with 8% chance of winning)
8/57 opponent has AJ (winning with 24% chance of losing)
6/57 opponent has AQ (losing with 8% chance of winning)
8/57 opponent has AK (winning with 24% chance of losing)
14/57 opponent has an unknown pair below JJ
So my odds of winning are determined as follows:


= (24/57)(0.08) + (16/57)(0.76) + (7/57)

= 0.034 + 0.213 + 0.123 = 0.370

So once that flop comes out, I've got a 37% chance of winning the hand.

If my preflop raise is just called, my calculations can include more low pocket pairs, which means that I'm probably (currently) ahead.
When I'm raised, I call, and the Q is out there, I'm probably going to win 35-40% of the time.
So there are a couple of things here:

1) Knowing now that I'm winning 35-40% of the time, does hindsight tell me that I should have I bet on the flop or just check and give up when Sean bets?
2) Did I make a mistake by calling the raise to 2x my bet (my initial bet was somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5 BB)

I'm inclined to think that, once at the flop with one scary overcard that isn't an ace, I should bet.
I'm also inclined to think that I shouldn't call the re-raise (even though it ended up being the case that Sean was just holding AQ) in the first place.