A Short Note on Honor Among Thieves

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The poker player suffers from ethical vertigo, usually unwittingly. To explain, his craft is strongly allied to all sorts of things we might generously call edge-seeking, and his game itself was once thought to only be winnable through unsavory means. This is why we were called card sharps, later softly zoomorphized and made acceptable as card sharks.

We forgive our mutual sinners quickly, and we move on from and with them out of mutual need and necessity. You know all about it, and probably even watch and root for many of them; some of the worst offenders pop right back up like moles. Moreover, there is a strong gravity in the grey zone of life: to go through it with any sort of code requires more effort than most have to give, which is why almost every poker player you know descends at some point below the surface in search of that edge.

However, there is a funny thing about this that keeps bobbing up in my mind. Honor among thieves does not equate to a more material, accurate view of the world. Maybe I was alone in thinking that the amoralist has some blinders removed. Of late, a few incidents, maybe even the Jungleman Gold show, make it clear that there is a second, deeper layer of honor to be had, which is fidelity to accuracy, even here in the belly of the beast.

For instance, I’ve had several whales leave my game or games I was in because I refused to lie to them past some line, yet many poker players believe they must be courted at all costs. Is this an example of an ethical breaking point, a meaningful difference? The thief should, by definition, lie to entrap the worse thief, but sometimes will not, faithful to his view not of the game but of the world. Where is the code now?

Similarly, a seedy player I gave action to complained ultimately that it wasn’t enough action and abandoned our game. Which thief is right? The code may not have an answer, because what matters is the reality that one of the two won’t or can’t see.

These are trifles, much though they stick with you and shape your life in poker. However, when the fidelity to accuracy is not even remotely agreeable, you realize that honor among thieves doesn’t really exist.

So it was when I got a foolish response from those other, greater thieves, the finance guys. I don’t think my bros here can tell that they are no longer telling the truth, if they ever were. Crypto as important as the discovery of fire? The taming of the electricity it runs upon? The horror of our nuclear knowledge which may yet destroy the world, all you little sales goons included?

We can know just how amazing BTC is without outrageous claims, and I can be enough of a thief to be suspicious of all the unnecessary lying by my fellow thieves.

(It didn’t get better, of course because just never mind the details: crypto is indeed seizable, taxable and such – all you need are the guns to get the keys, usually not even that much. Censorship happens not at the point of transaction necessarily, so that is just word salad stuff, illogical fluff. To compare inflation to slavery is tasteless at minimum; think of the actual slaves and how they rejoiced to only suffer a bad loan deal.)

I could go on but then I would be ignoring the reality that the audience are thieves, too, and I hate to ruin a good show. To suggest a better way forward is just chuckles and tomatoes: you be you, Kings, to the moon.

What this is, is vertigo: you are lost, confused, disordered. Your head reels from the strangeness and you are about to fall up down sideways into an abyss.

So, sell all the crap you want to sell, but do our heads always have to be spinning from the spin?

It is not, in other words, that our poker community can’t be interesting, smart, compelling and fun, it is that for all these things to be true for you and your life in it, you must be able to both accept a lot of bullshit, as well as be able to detect it and avoid it for yourself.

Maybe that is the point of these people, our natural enemies, the ones who are not our friends: to spread their confusion and make the world like it is in their head. To lay seeds for a land they love, one of green fields of duplicity and red skies of lies.

I doubt it, though. Because lying just doesn’t make money like expertise does.

Maybe they just lie because that is who they are. Ether way, the spin is so great I can’t even tell sometimes, and I’m supposed to be good at this stuff: vertigo.

Let’s end with a quiz: one of the four who responded to my irritating and pointless message gave me accurate information. Can you tell who it is? For extra credit, why do I use the onerous phrase above instead of the word truth?

2 thoughts on “A Short Note on Honor Among Thieves

  1. Excellent post. Prior to my retirement, I loved the juxtaposition of my professional job and my poker addiction.

    A few years ago, I had an interesting conversation at Bally’s Las Vegas with a guy who had a very successful professional poker career. He completely disagreed with me when I mentioned how scummy poker players are regarding paying back debts. I was surprised.

    Please make sure to leave hot crypto links in future posts.

  2. I’m curious where AI and RTA (real time assistance) sit on this spectrum. Online sites have the means to capture RTA-likely play and there have been player bans as a result. But should RTA not be allowed in principle, as a natural iteration of solvers? I suggest that in a limited way – glancing at preflop charts – it could be “good” or at least “neutral” for the game. The fish that decides to open 7BB in EP with only TT-JJ will still be around.

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