Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Smart Bet...?

Those who know me know that I tend to be a bit of a political junkie. I'm not sure whether that stems from my appreciation for good archetypes, high drama, or some Quixotic quest to see a sensible solution served up to the masses. Regardless, the GOP primary race has been intriguing for some time.

The following post from Noreen Malone over at New York for some reason reminded me of gambling. That idea probably crops up from the recent attention I've been paying to game theory and behavioral economics. Malone seems to think that mere spoiled mindsets are behind the GOP donor base's attempts to find somebody to run whom they can stomach. Some gambling concepts might cast their actions in a different light, while also underlining some of the risks they run.

Pot Management

When poker players first start out, many have a tendency to fold after their initial card draw. Multiple reasons exist to at least play through some of the hands (setting up bluffs; the possibility of a positive outcome), but perhaps the most important reason is pot management. If you're in the game, folding hands is a great way to burn through your reserves while ensuring that you have nothing to show for it. You must take a strategy into the game about how much you are willing to spend and under what conditions. Otherwise, you may as well leave.

Know When To Fold 'Em

Not to go all Kenny Rogers, but sometimes you have to question whether you should be in the Poker Room at all at certain times. I don't think the majority of GOP donors have reached this point yet, but the time will soon come when they start having those conversations.

You Don't Have To Bet Every Race

This concept is near and dear to me, as I received it from my friend Tom, a horse trainer turned bartender who was legendary at both. Tom explained to me that his track record in terms of betting was far into the black over time, because he understood the importance of identifying advantage. There's a long list of analogies you could draw from this point, but politics definitely fits. Don't be surprised if, at some point, the speed of donations made to one side or the other slows dramatically.

Losing The Battle To Win The War

Known in less scrupulous venues as the long con, contests can be lost for the sake of producing long term advantage. Resting your best player in a meaningless game, running a contest at less than full speed to hide capabililites, throwing away good hands, bluffing with bad hands, or running lackluster candidates to avoid placing your "A" team into difficult circumstances (like a protracted period of economic flatness) are all examples of thinking for the future (despite how cynical some of those actions may appear).