The other night I was cashing out after a long session, when I saw someone whose friend had been playing in the game I was playing, and we exchanged a few pleasantries . I had been down a lot, and had worked my way back to winning a bit after a 12 hour session and was excited to go back to my hotel room.
I went downstairs and was debating whether or not I should call a cab or walk, when a cab pulled up. I asked if he was available and he said he was waiting for someone who had called and that if that person didn’t show up, he would drive me to my hotel. After a minute, the gentleman I had spoken to as I was cashing out came downstairs, and I asked him where he was going and if he wanted to share a cab. He said that he was going to a different hotel and would be happy to drop me off, when the cab driver interjected that he could not take me since it was against the company rules. As the cab was pulling away, the man said, “sorry,” then thought a second and added, “it’s ok, you won a lot. You can afford a cab on your own.”
This struck me as a very judgmental thing to say since we barely knew each other. Though I had cashed out a lot of money tonight, he had no idea if I was up or down for the day and had made an instant assessment of not only how I had done, but whether that would affect my willingness to pay for a taxi. For all he knew, the money I won could have been needed to pay the rent or for medical care and perhaps I actually couldn’t afford to pay for a cab. Maybe I just didn’t want to be reminded that I was still down for the month or that I had lost 10 sessions in a row before this(untrue for me, but certain plausible for many other players) .
It got me to thinking about how frequently these judgements comes up in everyday life. People assume that if you wear a Rolex, that you have money, that you are willing to spend it frivolously that you subscribe to everything else that goes along with the “Rolex Lifestyle” you purport to lead. Well, seeing one snapshot of someone’s life does not give you insight into what makes them act the way they do and does not allow you to extrapolate to other aspects of their life. Perhaps their Grandfather gave them that Rolex or it was a reward they gave themselves for working 4000 hours in a year. Maybe they spent all their money on that watch and can no longer pay the rent. The point is that you can never really tell what someone’s motivation is and where their priorities are. To then try to infer what that means for other aspects of their life is a fools errand.
In poker, it’s important to find out the reason why your opponents take a specific action. At the poker table in a casino I find that if you ask or are friendly, people will be happy to walk you through their thought process. The rest of the analysis is up to you. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use stereotypes to help you initially, but if you don’t remain unbiased, you will cost yourself lots of money in the long run.