Poker, Sex And Dying by Juel Anderson

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Many years ago I bought this book. It’s not about trading, but about poker and selling. However, all the elements are relevant for stock traders. Besides, this book is much better than all other books I’ve read about psychology.

The author is no academic, but a successful salesman and hobby poker player. The book was published in the 1980s but was out of print for many years. That was until option investor David Caplan accidentally found a copy and was so impressed that he bought the copyrights of the book. The book was a gold mine to understand trader psychology, in his opinion.

I have just reread this book. It’s a fun read and I really get to understand my personality traits better. It makes me stop and think about my strengths and weaknesses.

My version of the book is called Trading, Sex and Dying and has a foreword from David Caplan. This book is full of relevant stuff. Here are some examples:

  1.  The biggest money burner I’ve ever known is called ”public opinion”.
  2. The saddest epitah you will ever read is this:”Here lies a man who never took a chance….He died anyway.”
  3. It’s wise to remember that in gambling, the wolves always arrive before the sheep. The confusion on this issue is caused because the sheep can’t believe that the wolves often arrive in sheepskin. Where gambling and money are involved, always assume it’s Halloween and every sheep present is a wolf in drag, until proven otherwise.
  4. You have to do the things you don’t like in order to do some of the things you do like.
  5. The real secret of gambling has its roots in chaos, anarchy, randomness…aberrations in the law of normal distribution. It’s the very same law that keeps the theoretical physicists scrambling to explain the universe. It’s luck, but not dumb luck. It takes discipline and some intellect to position yourself on the right side of luck.
  6. Poker is an intense emotional game. More than any other endeavour, it exposes the different personality traits in individuals. Because the stakes are high and the risk is great, personality and emotions are magnified.
  7. Emotions, not logic, moves the world.
  8. Gambling is difficult. In some respects, it’s the most difficult of all endeavours. To succeed takes enormous conviction and commitment. Most individuals don’t succeed because of the inability to know themselves and/or the inability to control their own actions. In gambling, the only asset you have is yourself.
  9. Poker is a mental contest, an emotional leverage game. Mental and emotional capacities are easier to exploit than physical traits.
  10. Poker is the perfect game because it involves imperfect players.
  11. Poker is a game of intense highs and lonely despair.
  12. In the insurance actuarial business, there is God. This God is “The law of big numbers”.
  13. Survival is a form of winning until you can really win.
  14. When the pressure is on, when the situation is critical, the result is the tyranny of our dominant personality trait.
  15. ….I briefly explain all 13 personality traits and ask the participant  to choose the one they feel most aptly describes their dominant personality trait. Guess what? Almost 50% will choose a trait that is incorrect. Almost 10% will choose a trait that is at the opposite end of the personality spectrum.
  16. The very worst time to learn anything about yourself or your opponent is when you’re involved in a hand. The information is skewed, prejudical. Too often you will see only what you want to see or what you don’t want to see. If you’re involved, the information you receive and store will always be emotionally tainted.
  17. As a poker player, you-re always naked and exposed.
  18. You can’t be blind to the risk even when the odds are in your favour.
  19. The downfall of many brilliant individuals…..is they lose sight of the purpose it should have. Their downfall is they can’t execute (gamble).
  20. I could give you 100 other examples of how the game and the winning or losing of it is affected by this mere inch. …It’s not the big things that determine success. It’s the attention to and mastering of the small details that so very often decide success.