Saturday, May 13, 2006

You're so Jaded

I am sometimes amazed at how poker players think. In some ways, we are so jaded when it comes to the value of money. Perhaps the old adage fits the bill here: Penny Wise - Pound Foolish.

Case in point: Sitting at a table in Las Vegas last week and the conversation turned to oil and the rising prices of gas. Players at the table offered up the amounts they had recently paid for a gallon of gasoline. The players being from different locations around the country clearly showed that gasoline prices were higher all over. Regardless of location, prices are clearly reaching $3.00 a gallon and more in some areas.

“It used to cost me about $35 to fill up my tank. I just filled up on the way to the airport before flying to Vegas and it cost me almost $50! It’s ridiculous how much money these big oil companies are making!” The player making this statement was clearly angry for having to spend so much more money to fill up his gas tank.

Let’s assume that his vehicle gets 400 miles between fill ups. I believe most vehicles get between 350 and 450 miles between fill ups depending upon their size and function. 400 seems like an appropriate number to base our assumptions on. In real terms that would mean he went from paying 8 cents a mile to fuel his vehicle to 12 cents per mile, or…$15. Come on! Are you serious? $15? Hell, how far will a taxi take you for $15?

Yet these same players were buying and re-buying into the game for HUNDREDS of dollars. I made a point to ask the guy when he bet $75 into me on a particular hand, “$75? Your hand is worth a tank and a half of gas?” To which he replied sheepishly, “uh, call me and I guess we’ll see.” I didn’t call him, but some else did, much to his dismay.

I guess it all comes down to how much value you place on things. Apparently bluffing at a pot for $75 must have more value than the extra $15 it cost him to fuel up his vehicle. Luckily I can see the silver lining for him. At least when he bluffs off all of his money, he is guaranteed to get home from the airport since his vehicle has a full tank of gas. Surely having that feeling of security is worth the extra $15. Don’t you think so?

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