Poker or Bridge?

What group of people do you think is more likely to have heard of Freakonomics, top bridge players or top poker players?

Far and away it is bridge players.

We ran some experiments at a big bridge tournament last week and used the Freakonomics name to help recruit volunteers. Many of the bridge players had heard of or read the book. It made recruiting very easy.

Right now, I am in Las Vegas trying to run some experiments on top poker players. With the notable exception of a few very intelligent players like Phil Gordon and Howard Lederer, it seems that poker players don’t spend a lot of time reading, at least not books like Freakonomics. Virtually no one we approach to be in the experiment has any idea what Freakonomics is. One guy said to me, “Freakonomics…doesn’t that have something to do with Scientology?” I said, “Actually, no. It has more to do with Economics.” He walked away.

If, against all odds, you are a serious poker player who is in Las Vegas over the next few days, and you are actually reading this, we still need some more recruits. Here is a description of the experiment.


Otto

You can't claim that "poker players don't spend a lot of time reading". That's not a good conclusion, even if you add the disclaimer "at least not books like Freakonomics". It sounds a bit pompous.

But please keep on blogging, it's quite entertaining.

rafe

I'll be participating in the experiment, and whatever it is about, I'm going to be looking for a little side action (friendly wager :-) with anyone else participating...

RJS

Interesting correlation. With poker becoming more "mainstream," I don't these findings are especially surprising.

Bridge, on the other hand, seems to be a "refined" man's game. (For lack of a better word.) I think you'll find that as something becomes more popular, the demographic who participates in it becomes broader (duh), and the average [something] declines.

I don't want to say "intelligence," but let's just say it's probably a safe bet to say that more people watch sports than read books in their spare time.

bgriffs

Are you suspending the "recognize Levitt for $100" promotion?

Dr. Funk

Pretty sure I saw Daniel Negreanu mention the book in his blog a few months ago.

doncoffin

Just guessing, because I have access to no demographic information, but I'd bet that bridge players are, on average
-older
-wealthier
-better educated

The older part I feel pretty confident about--the average age of members of the American Contract Bridge League is apparently about 68. For the rest, just a guess.

angryman

There are probably a lot of non-resident poker players who don't want to waste any of their limited Vegas time participating in an economics experiment. I'm a big fan of both authors, but when I'm in Vegas, I would rather play poker than play lab rat.

Quirky genious types like Rafe (and I mean that as a compliment) will surely participate, but how many people like him are there? If all else fails, replace the free signed book with free sandwiches.

angryman

p.s.
nothing makes a guy feel smarter than mis-spelling "genius"

scott cunningham

Congratulations on your new bracelet win Rafe!

Jacqueline

Top poker players' opportunity costs are very, very high. I doubt many bridge players are giving up hundreds or thousands of dollars for every hour they spend reading instead of playing poker.

zbicyclist

Jacqueline wrote: "Top poker players' opportunity costs are very, very high. I doubt many bridge players are giving up hundreds or thousands of dollars for every hour they spend reading instead of playing poker."

which gives me the opportunity to make a favorite argument of mine: the opportunity cost argument is largely b.s. (sorry, Jacqueline)

Do top poker players not go out to eat?

Do they not have sex because, at thousands of dollars an hour of poker playing time, sex just costs too much in "opportunity cost" terms?

There are a few limited cases in which the opportunity cost argument makes sense, but not many, in my opinion.

I'd belabor the argument a bit more, but it would cost me too much to spend more time on this message. ;)

Jacqueline

I was dating a top poker player for the past year and yes, he avoiding doing a lot of normal, fun stuff because he felt that he should be playing poker instead, and when he spent time with me he made me feel bad because he was giving up however many thousands of dollars. It was quite the strain on our relationship.

Charles

@ Jacqueline,

Ahh yes, the ever reliable sample size of one.

Otto

You can't claim that "poker players don't spend a lot of time reading". That's not a good conclusion, even if you add the disclaimer "at least not books like Freakonomics". It sounds a bit pompous.

But please keep on blogging, it's quite entertaining.

rafe

I'll be participating in the experiment, and whatever it is about, I'm going to be looking for a little side action (friendly wager :-) with anyone else participating...

RJS

Interesting correlation. With poker becoming more "mainstream," I don't these findings are especially surprising.

Bridge, on the other hand, seems to be a "refined" man's game. (For lack of a better word.) I think you'll find that as something becomes more popular, the demographic who participates in it becomes broader (duh), and the average [something] declines.

I don't want to say "intelligence," but let's just say it's probably a safe bet to say that more people watch sports than read books in their spare time.

bgriffs

Are you suspending the "recognize Levitt for $100" promotion?

Dr. Funk

Pretty sure I saw Daniel Negreanu mention the book in his blog a few months ago.

doncoffin

Just guessing, because I have access to no demographic information, but I'd bet that bridge players are, on average
-older
-wealthier
-better educated

The older part I feel pretty confident about--the average age of members of the American Contract Bridge League is apparently about 68. For the rest, just a guess.

angryman

There are probably a lot of non-resident poker players who don't want to waste any of their limited Vegas time participating in an economics experiment. I'm a big fan of both authors, but when I'm in Vegas, I would rather play poker than play lab rat.

Quirky genious types like Rafe (and I mean that as a compliment) will surely participate, but how many people like him are there? If all else fails, replace the free signed book with free sandwiches.