Huffington Post recently republished the opinions of Jeff Meyerson, former poker player and software engineer, regarding the advisability of learning how to play poker with the intention of making a career out of it. Meyerson had expressed his opinions on Quora in response to the question: “Is learning to play poker worth it?”
Meyerson said that “learning to play poker is not worth it” because the benefits of playing the game are definitely not sufficient to make learning it worth somebody’s time. He explained: “Poker is a negative sum game. This provides damaging lessons for anyone looking to develop in the business world. The best businesses today offer win-win scenarios, and the market punishes highly competitive thinking.”
Meyerson said that modern poker is a scarcity game, which means that there just aren’t as many games as there used to be when the game was at its peak and this makes it difficult for players to win at poker.
The present business atmosphere, according to him, was just the opposite. Referring to the world of business as “one of abundance,” Meyerson said, “Compute power is cheap. It’s easy to raise money. Individuals have leverage which grows at pace with Moore’s Law.”
Simultaneously, he pointed out that the ways in which players have created complex frameworks of probability and simulations and have used heads-up displays to understand the game better could be used for the development of useful skills. But these are limited benefits and “the opportunity cost of dedicating lots of time to poker is immensely wasteful.” He concluded that there are better ways than learning how to play poker to develop skills essential for business.
Meyerson feels that games such as Dominion, Pandemic, and Magic can teach better business skills than poker. Reading about World War II teaches better about risks and consequences, and interning on Wall Street can teach more about Markov models. This leaves little or no reason to learn how to play poker.
Meyerson isn’t the only poker player who suggests that people should avoid considering the idea of poker as a career. Speaking at a science camp held in New Jersey last month, female poker pro Vanessa Selbst told a group of 85 high school seniors that she could become a success at poker because of her interest in probability and math.
She also warned them against taking up poker as a profession because it has currently become very difficult to win.