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Contracts and Poker: Berating A Player

by Scott J. Burnham |  Published: Sep 25, 2019

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A player attempts a three-barrel bluff, but is snapped off by the intended victim, who calls the bluffer’s bet. The bluffer goes on a rant, sometimes blaming himself, but mostly blaming the other player for his terrible play. Should the Tournament Director impose a penalty on the player? Contracts and poker are both activities in which autonomous players attempt to increase their wealth by making advantageous moves. Ironically, both also require the players to cooperate with others in order to achieve these objectives. There are therefore limits on how far one can go in taking advantage of others and norms for how the cooperative environment is to be maintained. We might call the former rules of play and the latter rules of etiquette. A player who violates the rules of etiquette undermines the cooperative aspect of the game and may discourage players from participating. The World Series of Poker has ...


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