Raise or Fold:  A Year of Risky Business

Writing and playing poker as if they were activities worth doing well.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Money Inversion

It's a truism in poker that, while you are playing, you must not think of your chips in terms of their monetary value. As you make a re-raise, there should be no part of your mind mentally flashing subtitles that read "Okay, that's a month's worth of groceries, right there!" At the table, chips are weapons and tools and score-keepers, and that's it.

It's only when you cash out that you can think about the utility of money away from the table. If there is profit, some portion of it goes to build your bankroll (everyone handles this differently), and the remainder, if any, enters your life as part of your everyday resources.

And here's where it gets weird.

One of the standard ways of referring to your poker bankroll, is to account for it in terms of buy-ins. So if you usually play 2/5, and you have a bankroll of 40 buy-ins, that works out to 20K. For 1/2, a 40 buy-in bankroll (depending on where you play), could be from 8-12K.

As I get better at divorcing chips from their money equivalency as I play, I find a strange kind of reverse osmosis taking place away from the felt. To wit: I now frequently catch myself thinking of everyday life expenses in terms of buy-ins. Roundtrip airfare to Las Vegas? Less than a buy-in at 2/5. My rent: a little over two buy-ins.

For smaller sums, I end up thinking in terms of an average pot-size at different stakes. That little Pandora bead I covet, or the cute flat sandals: a modest pot at 1/2. The comfy trousers I bought yesterday: a typical 2/5 pot.

Apparently I now live in Pokerland, where the currency comes in pot-sized and buy-in denominations. I find myself doing this mental exchange-rate exercise more and more frequently these days. Describing it, I realize that it probably sounds like a really weird way of thinking to most people, and it is yet another way that my life continues to diverge substantially from the mainstream.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure this is no danger, but watch out for using this conversion as a way to justify things. As in, I normally wouldn't go to the fancy restaurant, but hey, it's only about the price of seeing one flop.

8/4/09 12:56 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Reminds me of one of F-Train's tweets a while back where he said he finds himself before cashiers counting out change and stacking the coins as if they were chips -- something I realized I'd started to do a little toward the end of my summer in LV after playing a lot live.

8/4/09 8:03 AM  
Blogger Shawn said...

I wonder how many people stop and think about how many hours of work translate into the things they buy. Thinking like this may be a great way to appreciate the value of money away from the table.

8/4/09 11:31 PM  

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