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Risk Preferences And Motives

by Alan Schoonmaker |  Published: Jul 18, 2018


Many poker experts insist that we shouldn’t have risk preferences and other motives. We should unemotionally calculate the probabilities of winning and losing, multiply them by the amounts that we will win or lose, and then make the decisions that maximize our expected value (EV) and profits. Of course, there are limits. Regardless of their EV, we shouldn’t make bets that are so large or risky that we can go broke or become too upset. But even within those limits we frequently can’t be completely rational. We’re hard-wired to have risk preferences and many motives, including quite irrational ones. I’m using the word, “irrational,” in the narrow sense of reducing profits. A few people have very irrational risk preferences and motives. Maniacs take absurd risks for the sheer kick of gambling, and rocks fold +EV hands and draws because they’re so afraid of losing. And many recreational players just want ...

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