Friday, June 08, 2007

Global Warming for Poker Players

The Heartland Poker Tour at Leelanau Sands Casino in May 2007.
I'm way back there dealing at table N.

Okay, let's review the concept of "pot odds".

For those of you who don't play poker, evaluating the "pot odds" involves weighing the odds of winning a pot against the cost of further participation in the hand. When the cost of further participation, the bet, is larger than the value of the pot times the chance of winning the pot, we say that “the pot odds aren’t there”. If the pot odds aren’t there, then you fold instead of betting. If the pot is big and the bet in front of you is small, you bet a marginal hand, because further participation won’t cost you that much.

There is a chance that the human race in not the cause of global warming. It's not a big chance, maybe like holding a suited Jack and King in your hand. In the pot in the middle of the table is a host of things like big cars, big houses, a new wardrobe every year, cheap imported food....some nice stuff, to be sure. We would like to win that pot. But someone has bet in front of us. To match that bet, to stay in the hand we have to bet our whole bankroll. We have to go all in.

And what is in our bankroll? Our whole earth. The only place we know we can live in. In order to, maybe, save our current lifestyle, we must bet our entire livable Earth, the livable Earth for not only us, but all of our descendants. There's no hitting the ATM machine to withdraw another stake in the game. That's it.

Is it worth it to bet our whole earth on the off chance that global warming is an illusion? As much as we like the things that are in the pot, they aren't worth risking our earth for. A good poker player folds in that position. He walks away from that pot so that he can live to play another hand.

And there will be other hands. We can live with smaller cars. We can devise lifestyles where we drive less and eat food from the neighborhood. We can figure out all sorts of way to avoid burning gas and oil, and to conserve electricity so that the power plants don't burn so much coal. I guessing that our descendants will shake their heads and wonder how we could ever have lived so enslaved by our outsized cars and homes.

A good poker player congratulates himself on a good laydown and goes on to play smart in the next hand, too. The human race can walk way and be the better for it, or we can stay in and play a suicidal hand. The action's on us.

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