by Feisal Naqvi
I first started playing cards in high school. Ever since then — through college, law school and more than a decade of legal practice — I have continued to play; occasionally for profit, sometimes for a loss, and always for fun.
The problem with playing cards seriously though is that you start analysing all social phenomena like a card player. What that means is that you always play the odds. In any given situation, you figure out the percentage play and then stick to it. If you go for broke, you will most likely wind up broke. If you get beat by a bad draw, that’s life.
The bigger problem with thinking like a card player is that the card player’s view of probability does not necessarily apply to life beyond the card table. In his brilliant book titled The Black Swan, Nicholas Nassim Taleb explains how very little human beings actually know and how much of life is in fact determined by the highly improbable.
Taleb illustrates his first point about the limitations of human knowledge by referring to the fact that, prior to the European discovery of Australia, there were literally hundreds and thousands — if not millions — of instances where people had observed white swans but no black ones. And yet, once the first black swan was discovered, all of that experience counted for naught. Continue reading