What, then, should you do? With an excellent hand, you should bet: You lose nothing if your opponent folds, while giving yourself a good chance of winning a big pot if he calls. But with a middling hand, you shouldn't bet: If he has a bad hand, he'll fold, and you'll win the ante, which is what you'd have won anyway by checking; but if he has a good hand, he'll call and win. It's heads he wins, tails you don't. You should check instead, and hope your middling hand wins the ante. What about with a terrible hand? Should you check or bet? The answer is surprising. Checking would be unwise, because the hands will be compared and you will lose. It actually makes more sense to bet with these bad hands, because the only way he might drop out is if you make a bet. Perversely, you are better off betting with awful cards than with mediocre ones, the quintessential (and rational) bluff. There's a second reason for you to bet with terrible cards rather than middling ones: Your opponent will have to call a little more often. Because he knows that your bets are sometimes very weak, he can't afford to fold too easily. That means that when you bet with a good hand, you are more likely to be called, and to win when you are. Because you are bluffing with bad cards, your good hands make more money.
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Synthetic Worlds is a surprisingly profound book about the social, political, and economic issues arising from the emergence of vast multiplayer games on the Internet. What Castronova has realized is that these games, where players contribute considerable labor in exchange for things they value, are not merely like real economies, they are real economies, displaying inflation, fraud, Chinese sweatshops, and some surprising in-game innovations.
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Ten percent of American businesses disappear every year. ... It's far higher than the failure rate of, say, Americans. Ten percent of Americans don't disappear every year. Which leads us to conclude American businesses fail faster than Americans, and therefore American businesses are evolving faster than Americans.
I see the God complex around me all the time in my fellow economists. I see it in our business leaders. I see it in the politicians we vote for - people who, in the face of an incredibly complicated world, are nevertheless absolutely convinced that they understand the way that the world works.
Failure's inevitable. It happens all the time in a complex economy. And how did the economy produce all these amazing things that we have around us, computers and cell phones and so on? Well, the process was trial and error. There were a bunch of ideas, and the good ones grew and prospered, and the bad ones were pretty ruthlessly weeded out.
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It's difficult because we tend to overrate the pain of failure. We fear it too much. That's research that emerges from psychology. We think it's going to be worse than it really is. And, I think, as we get a bit older, really after we leave school or college, we quickly stop experimenting.
I don't think Brian Cox does 'The Wonders of the Solar System' because he believes the world would be a better place if people understood about the rings of Saturn; I just think he finds physics extremely interesting. It brings him joy, and he wants to spread the love. I feel the same about economics.
Bill Phillips was this nervous, chain-smoking student. He had signed up to be an engineer, he had gone away to fight in the Second World War, he had come back. He had switched to sociology because he wanted to understand how people could do these terrible things to each other. And he did a little bit of economics on the side.
The supermarket chain Whole Foods has quite a radical employee empowerment program, where employees get to decide whether another employee can work in their team or not. If they think this person's a slacker, doesn't have good ideas, they can vote and say, no, we don't want this person to be working with us on the vegetable aisle.
Cory Doctorow should be too busy for lunch. He's co-editor of, and a prolific contributor to, one of the most influential blogs in the world, Boing Boing. Over the past decade the Canadian-born writer has published 16 books, mostly science fiction novels. He campaigns vigorously on the politics of the digital age.
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