HDouble over at The Cards Speak has an interesting post where he ponders whether poker is he sees poker as a hobby, a sport, or if he’s just in it for the money. He ends by saying that he’s unsure which but I couldn’t help but remember a supposedly true story told by Mike Caro about Bill Gates and Doyle Brunson.
Taken from: What’s the Right Limit for You?
This is why Bill Gates might not be able to play winning poker at any customary limits. There may not be any games where the stakes are enough to motivate him. The legendary two-time world champion and Hall of Famer Doyle Brunson jokes about the time Bill Gates was playing $3-$6 at the Mirage. Gates sent a copy of Brunson’s poker bible, Super/System – A Course in Power Poker, over to Doyle’s $3,000-$6,000 game for a requested signature. But instead of acting honored by the request, Doyle good-naturedly needled Gates, refusing to sign a book for anyone with billions of dollars who was afraid to come over and gamble with the big boys. I know what Doyle’s motive was. He was trying to tease Gates into his game, and it might have worked – not that time, though.
But there’s another point here. Bill Gates already was sort of playing poker for $3,000-$6,000 right then! How come? Because there’s no conceptual difference to Bill Gates – the richest dude alive – between playing $3-$6 and $3,000-$6,000. Both stakes are meaningless. It’s sort of like you were playing in a game in which you got 10,000 chips for a penny and someone needled you for being unwilling to play in an adjoining game in which they were playing 10 chips for a penny.
No matter what the outcome, the result would have no bearing on your life. And as a result, you might not play any more seriously at $3,000-$6,000 than at $3-$6.
Advice: Don’t play for tiny stakes unless you’re a very poor player who would lose meaningfully more money by playing larger. If you care about mastering the game, you’ll probably improve faster by playing for stakes that are large enough to make you feel a little bad if you lose. Bill Gates can’t do that.