A Full Evening of Poker and Lock-Picking

Just got back from one of the most enjoyable events I’ve ever attended at Harvard: Poker as Strategy with Prof. Charles Nesson. You may have seen Professor Nesson on the Colbert Report, or in the Youtube video of a Google Tech Talk, Poker Teaches, or perhaps you’ve seen the website of the organization, the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society. What Professor Nesson was doing tonight was teaching a roomful of Harvard librarians how to play poker, that is, he was teaching us the strategy of poker thinking. It’s a powerful metaphor, but an even more powerful reality. A few of my favorite Nesson quotes from the evening include, “Poker is a betting game. It’s not about the hierarchy of the hands, it’s about betting” and “You have to develop an understanding of the aggression of the game” and “If you can play two-card war, you can be a fearsome Texas hold-em player!” As he explained, he wanted us to experience the feelings of having a short stack of chips as compared to the feeling of having large stacks of chips — the difference that makes in how you bet and how you strategize in the game. Coming away from the session, I realized a couple things: 1. I can understand why John Palfrey says Professor Nesson is the best teacher he’s ever had, and 2. I really wish I could have attended this talk about 30 years ago. The stacks of chips I could have had!

Oddly enough, on my way home I talked with a colleague who couldn’t attend tonight because she had to break into a lock box whose key had been lost (okay, so she could have gotten another key for 20 bucks, but who wants to spend $20 on a key?). So instead she went online and found this Youtube video tutorial of How to Pick a Lock with a Paper Clip. Et voila! She picked the lock box lock successfully. I think I might even be able to do it, too — that’s how good that tutorial is.

More as it happens on Youtube, the Colbert Report, and at the poker table,

Cheryl LaGuardia About Cheryl LaGuardia

Cheryl LaGuardia always wanted to be a librarian, and has been one for more years than she's going to admit. She cracked open her first CPU to install a CD-ROM card in the mid-1980's, pioneered e-resource reviewing for Library Journal in the early 90's (picture calico bonnets and prairie schooners on the web...), won the Louis Shores / Oryx Press Award for Professional Reviewing, and has been working for truth, justice, and better electronic library resources ever since. Reach her at claguard@fas.harvard.edu, where she's a Research Librarian at Harvard University.