Every day it seems like another mainstream news outlet or niche publication is picking up the poker bug. The financial world has always been a friend to poker. The parallels between high stakes gambling and big money stocks are clear, wagering huge sums on an outcome that may or may not go your way. Many big financiers have also fancied themselves fine poker players. The most famous being Andy Beal, who took on The Corporation syndicate of poker pros in a multi-million dollar heads up battle.
The good people of Kiplinger’s Magazine seem to feel the same way, in particular their senior editor Bob Frick. The eagle eyed Dan Michalski over at Pokerati spotted a series of articles by Frick, apparently inspired by his visit to a WPT Boot Camp in 2006. The $1,500 course, which he attended as part of a larger project on adult camps, not only dramatically improved his poker game, it “mirrored the problems I’d written about in…investing-psychology.”
Kiplinger’s is an investment and economic forecasting magazine based in Washington D.C., which caters to the high flying captains of industry. It has recently featured a trio of articles by Bob Frick on the parallels between good investing and good poker play. The first, and most thorough, deals with the negative emotional responses which can cloud your clear logical judgement. “Having emotional stability and emotional control is key to both investing and poker,” reports the ever-present Daniel Negreanu. Bob Frick agrees, proudly claiming that, “just a few hours of playing poker will take you through literally dozens of financial decisions.”
Frick selects five key traits will lose you money in both fields: Greed, Overconfidence, Regret, Seeing Patterns, and Holding on to losers. Any poker player worth their salt can tell you that these are all obviously -EV activities. Apart from seeing patterns, which is a little strained, Frick expertly ties together investing and poker with these detrimental emotions. “The possibility of that big payout can blind us to thinking logically about our odds of winning,” he says of greed. Reminding us not to get too attached to a big hand or a big investment. When it looks like you might have fallen behind it’s time to fold or time to sell.
“In tournaments when I’ve won a series of hands, it tends to make me loosen up and take excessive risks,” reports Vanessa Rousso, herself an economics graduate. Don’t deviate from your game-plan, says Frick. You shouldn’t let consistent good or bad luck influence your sound logical strategy. Just like taking a bad beat in poker, “a big loss causes regret, which can lead you to take big risks or to unload your securities and stay out of the market for an extended period.” Holding on to losers is a very basic poker leak, which all good players must defeat. “One of the best-known psychological errors in investing is the tendency to hold on to losing investments too long. Why can’t we sell?” asks Frick. It’s all too easy to become married to a big pair, or a flush on a paired board, even when your opponent is showing great strength. Ultimately, the message is, for both poker and investment, don’t be results orientated.
There are two shorter articles that accompany this more in-depth analysis. The first asks you to consider your hole cards as a potential investment. The more community cards you uncover, the more information you have about whether to buy/bet or sell/fold. It suffers from some misunderstandings about the general poker landscape, in particular that, “in no-money-involved tournaments…players are inclined to make more-thoughtful decisions.” But in general it does a very good job of marrying together poker and fiscal speculation.
In the final piece, Frick recounts how using a biofeedback device to monitor and control his heart rate enabled him to become a more profitable poker player and a more profitable investor. Also on the Kiplinger’s site, is Frick’s engaging 2006 account of his time at the WPT Bootcamp, featuring an appearance from Clonie Gowan.