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Flawed Philosophy Encouraged on This Site?

luckyspewyluckyspewy Posts: 299Member
edited November 2014 in NLHE Strategy Discussion
Often I hear "This is a game of incomplete information", or "We can assume because of their age/ethnicity/gender that villain plays..."

I wanted to open a dialogue about this line of reasoning. I understand (or at least believe I understand) the logic underlying this thought process; "We have to use the information we have to infer the player's style in order to make a better decision that if we had no information at all".

However, I believe that these inferences are often less accurate than we perceive, and might inhibit us from actually registering the truly relevant information that's is available to us (info from showdowns for example). If we classify a player simply from their appearance, are we more prone to operate from a confirmation bias, and register evidence that solely confirms our preconceptions?

I have played against strong and weak female players, passive and aggressive Asian players, Laggy and fishy young people, Laggy and fishy old people.

Also I wanted to inquire as to the perceptions people had as to how this line of reasoning might be harmful to our daily outlook. Broad generalizations can have a tremendously detrimental outcome to how we view the people and realities around us. In a time that is so tumultuous, I simply wanted to ask if it is ok for us as humans, and players, to view individuals through such a one-dimensional lens?
Thanked by 1TDF
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Comments

  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,090Subscriber
    Lucky

    Those are stereotypes with no additional imformation. As you play with the same players you can change your initial assumptions based on what you have seen them play

    Thats what i do
  • neverlearn2neverlearn2 Posts: 2,862Subscriber
    I see where you are headed with this, better concrete evidence of play instead of judgement calls where a lot of errors can be made.

    Maybe this can be emphasized more in podcasts and v such. It will definitely help people asking for v advice and giving advice.
  • luckyspewyluckyspewy Posts: 299Member
    Thehammah wrote:
    Lucky

    Those are stereotypes with no additional imformation. As you play with the same players you can change your initial assumptions based on what you have seen them play

    Thats what i do

    I guess my concern, or at least my question is if initial stereotyping is actually generally accurate enough to make this a valid practice? Does doing this generally inhibit our ability to accurately translate and apply actual evidence of play? And is this general process bad for us in other facets of our lives?
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,090Subscriber
    edited November 2014
    I dont think it takes too many hands to get a better read on someone. Its not like bart is saying you keep your stereotypes for hours

    Some players play in just a hand or two can change your opinion

    Thanked by 1JCW
  • Sean777Sean777 Posts: 356Subscriber
    Poker IS a game of limited information. When facing an unknown, which is very common if you play low/mid stakes at casinos, you have to use every bit of information available. It's not just age/ethnicity, it's general demeanor, appearance, how they carry themselves. To be honest, I can just look at a person, and generally tell if they're stupid or not. Intelligent people's eyes look different. Their mannerisms are different.

    Watching their play is very useful in determining how we should proceed, but so is using all of this additional information from just how they look. If you're a good reader of people, which really is ultimately what NL is about(assuming you're deep) then you can in fact just tell what kind of a person your opponent is from some brief interactions and looking at them... and that might give you some decent insight as to how they play poker. And something is better than nothing.
  • luckyspewyluckyspewy Posts: 299Member
    Sean777 wrote:
    To be honest, I can just look at a person, and generally tell if they're stupid or not. Intelligent people's eyes look different.

    LOL

    Thanked by 2Arenzano KSM
  • SunFishSunFish Posts: 22Subscriber
    luckyspewy wrote:
    Sean777 wrote:
    To be honest, I can just look at a person, and generally tell if they're stupid or not. Intelligent people's eyes look different.

    LOL

    This really isn't to far from the truth. If you just listen to the way some people talk especially if you can over hear a brief conversation they are having you can pretty quickly generalize their potential of being somewhat smart or somewhat stupid lol
  • Sean777Sean777 Posts: 356Subscriber
    edited December 2014
    It's true man, I don't know what else to say. I'm not saying an intelligent person is going to be good at poker. Far from it. Or else play like a monkey spew tard or whatever.

    Maybe it's not that their eyes appear different per se, but how they use their eyes, how they look around them is markedly different.

    But if you want quick generalizations, then stupid is a good starting point, and nearly always people wear it on their sleeve so to speak. You don't need to spend hours in their company.
  • DavidTuchmanDavidTuchman Posts: 791Pro
    As is with almost everything we teach on this site, or any other place you learn something, you have to use what works for you and incorporate that into your game. We don't create robots that all play the same which is one of the reasons (and yes, I know I'm biased), why I sincerely believe this site is the best. Bart, Limon, Chan, Don, and the others all approach the game differently and hopefully you can relate to one of us and connect with some of the other subscribers...

    With regards to "judging a book by it's cover" ... relying on "sterotypes" ... whatever you want to call it. This is how I look at it.

    Poker is indeed a game of incomplete information.
    Having history with your opponents is optimal, but not always the case.
    If we're in a tough spot in a game with someone we don't know, we need to fall back on whatver it is, we do know and unfortunately at times, that can really be limited. So, what are the options? Don't get involved in any pots with Unknown players? Not realistic is it? All we can do is start with a skeleton and hopefully as we play with these players, we can fill in the fats, the muscle, the hair, etc...

    As is the always the case, information is king. The more we know about our opponents, the better. That said, we have to start somewhere and occasionally we'll be very wrong.

    One thing I'll always try to do is respect my opponent. If I don't know who he is, I force myself to respect him and understand that he very well could be dangerous. I might find out 15 minutes later that he's a complete moron and is trying to give his money away, but until I know that for sure, I'll respect him. I also don't like taking other players opinions to heart. I've found in the past that when I listen to someone's take on a player, their opinion often differs with mine greatly and unfortunately I usually find this out the hard way.


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  • DrGambolDrGambol Posts: 724Subscriber
    In live poker, it's so important to pay attention at the table. It's okay to make some assumptions as long as you pay attention enough to adjust your reads. Throughout their first one or two orbits, you should be able to tell a lot about their preflop game. You should notice if they are limping a ton, ISO raising, or 3 betting. You should pay attention to their first showdown and make assumptions based on what they flip over.

    I'd compare this stereotyping to online when you have 10 hands on someone in your hud. You only have so much info, and if someone is playing 20/20 over 10 hands and has auto top up on, then we can assume they are a reg. They may not be a good reg, but they play some of the style. If they are 50/0 and are half stacked, we can make some assumptions that they are loose passive. We can adjust these reads based on what happens the next 100 hands, but it'd be wrong to just ignore these first reads we get in the first few hands.

  • FreeLunchFreeLunch Posts: 1,311Pro
    Hmm. I read luckyspewy as saying something different than others seem to. Ill rephrase his post- luckyspewy - let me know if I am on or off target

    I think what he is saying that in this game of imperfect information there is a lot of information that can be perfectly observed like bet sizing and all the other info that can be quantified and collected online in a hud. We also have information that is based on very imperfect observations like player personality, age, ethnicity. This information is subject to a lot of cognitive biases. Therefore, (if I have luckyspewy) right - he is arguing that this site is making a mistake by spending so much time on the lower quality error prone information instead of the more accurate and observable information.

    If that is what he is saying, my response:

    I agree with the argument that getting the fundamentals right is vital and anyone new to the game should focus more on the data and logic luckyspewy exposes. However, after a few years of play, collecting and analyzing this information becomes automatic, almost subconscious process for good players. When this becomes more automatic to a player there are significant diminishing returns to spending more time processing this data. At this point in a players development there are greater returns to developing the ability to think like your opponent. Building mental models about different types of opponents has a very high return. These mental models are imperfect and subject to a lot of bias but its really worth the time to develop them. Therefore, luckyspewy, when a poster here gives that information they are helping us expand our mental models which helps is more accurately put players on ranges and thus increases profits.

    Thanked by 2Sean777 luckyspewy
  • luckyspewyluckyspewy Posts: 299Member
    What worries me is that the assumptions we make based on physical appearance are often much less accurate than we might expect. However if we are still in the practice of assuming playing styles based on these factors, are we then less likely to accurately interpret the truly relevant information? Don't we run the risk of internalizing the empirical evidence of how someone plays through a filter than we have already constructed?

    It seems that people in their responses assume that they are only using this info, or believe they are only using this info, in an initial trial stage of play with their opponents. That they in fact are not static in their assumptions about people, but rather are adapting their play and models of their opponents based on the evidence of their play. However, I would challenge those here to be truly reflective about this. Is it at all possible that we are in fact making the evidence fit our preconceptions of a person? Issues of introspection are clearly imperfect and incredibly difficult, but I see this flaw constantly as it relates to poker (an inability to see ourselves objectively), so I at least hope to open a dialogue that encourages subscribers to ask ourselves these questions.

    The second part of my post relates to societal implications of this sort of categorizing based on physical appearance. The act of inferring information about a person based on physical appearance, and drawing conclusions based on assumptions, is a dangerous one. It is especially relevant today in such a tumultuous time. When I read statements like "I can tell how intelligent a person is based on the look in their eyes", it worries me.
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,090Subscriber
    Lucky

    I think you are over thinking this.. We have to start with something and stereotypes are the best we have. Is it perfect? no way but we as good players we can adjust more quickly then others.

    I for one think that in my games these stereotypes are fairly accurate but like what Dave says I tend to give players credit at the beginning and if they show me they are not deserving then I will adjust.

    ww
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  • JamesSuhJamesSuh Posts: 320Subscriber
    ^ I tend to do the opposite. I assume everyone is bad until they show me otherwise because most of the players in my player pool are bad. Amiwrong?
  • ArenzanoArenzano Posts: 1,464Subscriber
    edited December 2014
    Actually you're better off not making any assumptions either way. Until you have more evidence that shows they are good or they are bad.
    Thanked by 2TDF luckyspewy
  • aaronaaron Posts: 498Subscriber
    edited December 2014
    luckyspewy wrote:
    That they in fact are not static in their assumptions about people, but rather are adapting their play and models of their opponents based on the evidence of their play. However, I would challenge those here to be truly reflective about this. Is it at all possible that we are in fact making the evidence fit our preconceptions of a person?
    luckyspewy wrote:

    If one can't adapt initial assumptions to new evidence they've been shown then they're probably not very good at this game or at problem solving in general.

    stereotype - most 80 year old men are tight
    If a random 80 yr old raises me on the flop I'm going to assume he has it if we've never played before. If after 20 minutes I see him run a triple barrell bluff my opinion is going to quickly change. I don't see how my initial stereotyped assumption can get in the way of clear evidence.

    Why do you think people will ignore that?
  • luckyspewyluckyspewy Posts: 299Member
    I don't think people will or will not ignore empirical evidence, I merely suggest that it is possible. We are evolutionarily hardwired to believe in our preconceptions, even in the face of contrary information. I simply wanted to engage the discussion, and ask the forum if anyone sees the parallels that run between this form of stereotyping on the felt, and prejudiced thinking outside of poker.

    Is it that easy to turn on and off?
    Is the practice of immediately classifying a person based on appearance accurate enough to go with, or is it actually detrimental for the times it causes us to misinterpret a play?

    In the example you outline @aaron, a person starts with an assumption about a player based on all the info they have readily available to them, and that assumption turns out to be wrong (assuming the triple barrel hypothetical). And the hero follows by adapting the classification of the player. In this example the hero reacts perfectly.

    However, what if hero started with no assumptions about the player? Wouldn't he/she had a better chance to accurately interpret the $20 bet? What if the hero doesn't perfectly adapt the classification after the triple barrel bluff but instead makes the evidence fit the preconception; "He must have thought he was value-betting, wow he really is terrible." "I bet he tries a bluff like that once a year because he's too tight to play like that all the time".

    I see time and time again players rationalize their mistakes in hands. They (we) perform mental gymnastics to make our losses about bad luck or bad plays by villains as opposed to their (our) own mistakes. What makes us think that we're not performing this type of rationalization in our thought process and approach to begin with.
  • CalgaryPokerGuyCalgaryPokerGuy Posts: 342Subscriber
    I think an analogy could be value betting the river. As long as you are correct over 50% when called it's a good bet.

    Well, making a snap judgement on someone based on appearance, mannerisms, etc (when no other info is available) could tip the scales in the right direction in regards to their style / level of play. Do 100% of old nits that appear competent play hella-tight? No. But based on 1000's of hours observation, many pro players would probably say that much more often than not they are. And the donkish old men that are the exception are pretty easy to spot. And the same can be applied to other traits.

    Adjusting your perception immediately based on new info like bet sizing, showdowns, etc is absolutely crucial, but I think the whole point of the generalizations is to give a loose starting point. I believe Bart is just using his hours played to develop these generalizations and share them with us. That being said, the distributions of traits vs skill can be much different depending on the region of the players.

    As for snap judgements being bad in the real world, I think many people (eg. police officers, soldiers, any people with high pressure careers) rely on using their instincts / feel based on many things including appearances of people. Not always good, but not always bad. It's all about tipping the scales in the right direction.
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  • luckyspewyluckyspewy Posts: 299Member
    As for snap judgements being bad in the real world, I think many people (eg. police officers, soldiers, any people with high pressure careers) rely on using their instincts / feel based on many things including appearances of people. Not always good, but not always bad. It's all about tipping the scales in the right direction.

    I would argue that it is in fact always bad, as they are in positions that deal with the preservation of life, and exercising authority over others. When people in these positions make assumptions about others based on factors like appearance (including race and gender), they are making assumptions that are patently false, as they will not always be correct. Sometimes these false classifications cost people their lives. They tip the scales against those who are societally portrayed as dangerous.
  • CalgaryPokerGuyCalgaryPokerGuy Posts: 342Subscriber
    luckyspewy wrote:
    As for snap judgements being bad in the real world, I think many people (eg. police officers, soldiers, any people with high pressure careers) rely on using their instincts / feel based on many things including appearances of people. Not always good, but not always bad. It's all about tipping the scales in the right direction.

    I would argue that it is in fact always bad, as they are in positions that deal with the preservation of life, and exercising authority over others. When people in these positions make assumptions about others based on factors like appearance (including race and gender), they are making assumptions that are patently false, as they will not always be correct. Sometimes these false classifications cost people their lives. They tip the scales against those who are societally portrayed as dangerous.
    I see what you're saying. I guess it's hard to quantify as I'm sure there have been many situations where these snap judgements have assisted the people making them, just as there have been situations where they were mislead. It's about determining what % using this "profiling" was in fact helpful.

    If I understand your point, you're suggesting that the times errors are made based on these snap judgements might make it a flawed system to begin with, and you may be correct.

    Back to poker, I know I have made incorrect reads on players based on their appearance, but it usually only takes one or two hands to adjust the read. But I would say in the long run, using this type of information has been to my advantage simply because of the distribution of player tendencies correlated with their appearance / mannerisms. It's not much different than value owning yourself - if you're never value owning yourself you're not betting often enough. If you're never grouping players into generalizations based on their appearance, you also may be missing out on some value.
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