Carnegie Mellon Says Its Poker-Playing AI Does ‘Strategic Reasoning.’ But Does It?

Many authors immerse themselves in an interest or field to be able to reveal it. A.J. Jacobs spent a year living biblically. Dan Lyons worked at HubSpot. Others, like Stefan Fatsis, try to become kicker for the Broncos or, like Michael McKnight, try to understand to dunk a basketball.

But usually they dip in and dip out; their experiences help provide a somewhat inside perspective for a book or longform piece. (A little like me doing 100,000 pushups in a year.)

And then there’s Maria Konnikova. 2 yrs ago she decided to write a book about poker but she knew almost nothing concerning the game. So she did the smart thing. Instead of getting a coach, she got a master: She connected with Erik Seidel, an expert poker player who has won eight World Number of poker bracelets and a World Poker Tour title.

Seidel decided that for Konnikova to actually understand the game, she had to check out the road beginners take. She had to create her bankroll from scratch. So she started playing in $20 and $40 tournaments. Then she moved up to raised stakes tournaments, finishing second in one single and winning $2,215.

And then earlier in 2010 she won $84,600 at the PCA National… and chose to push back her book to 2019 and go all-in (pun intended) on poker, a choice that paid when she finished second in a Asia Pacific Poker Tour Macau event and won $57,519.

“PCA was the minute where everything type of came together,” she said. “I’m learning and it’s sticking and I’m playing well. It’s a really wonderful feeling when you’re studying and working to own that validated.”

Konnikova didn’t attempt to become a great poker player. She just wanted to get better.

That’s the thing about progress. That’s the thing about success. Even only a little progress successes makes you feel good. Even the tiniest successes validate your effort. Tiny progress, small successes… they make you happy.

And that provides most of the motivation you have to get up tomorrow and keep taking care of whatever trying to understand or improve.

This is exactly POKERAMPM why almost all incredibly successful people set an objective and then focus each of their attention on the process necessary to attain that goal.

Sure, the target is still out there. But what they value most is what they should do today — and once they accomplish that, they think happy about today. They think good about today.

And they think good about themselves, because they’ve accomplished what they attempt to do today. And that sense of accomplishment gives them all the motivation they should do what they should do when tomorrow comes — because success, even tiny, incremental success, is the best motivation of all.

When you savor the small victories, you can feel great about yourself every single day, because you no longer feel compelled to compare the distance between here and there. You do not have to wait for “someday” to feel great about yourself; should you choose that which you planned to accomplish today, you’re a winner.

Pick somebody who has achieved something you want to achieve. Deconstruct their process. Then follow it.

As you go along you may make small corrections as you learn what works best for you personally, but never start by doing what you want to accomplish, or what feels good, or that which you think might work.

Do what’s which can work.

That way you won’t give up, because the process you create will yield those small successes that keep you motivated and feeling good about yourself.

Even when you’re a writer who decides to understand a little something about poker.



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