Tuesday, November 29, 2022

An odd poker variant

Suppose Alice can read your mind, and you are playing poker against a set of people not including Alice. You don’t care about winning, just about money. Alice has a deal for you that you can’t refuse.

  • If you win, she takes your winnings away.

  • If you lose, but you tried to win, she pays you double what you lost.

  • If you lose, but you didn’t try to win, she does nothing.

Clearly the prudent thing to do is to try to win. For if you don’t try to win, then you are guaranteed not to get any money. But if you do try, you won’t lose anything, and you might gain.

Here is the oddity: you are trying to win in order to get paid, but you only get paid if you don’t win. Thus, you are trying to achieve something, the achievement of which would undercut the end you are pursuing.

Is this possible? I think so. We just need to distinguish between pursuing victory for the sake of something else that follows from victory and pursuing victory for the sake of something that might follow from the pursuit of victory.

1 comment:

William said...

This is what handicapping in horse racing or golf is about.