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Poker and Philosophy

I just got a new book called Poker and Philosophy edited by Eric Bronson, a philosphy professor at Berkeley College in New York City.  He co-edited The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy (2003) and edited Baseball and Philosophy (2004).  The book is a collection of essays written by philosophers who play poker.  Or was it poker players who do philosophy?  Can’t say I can easily distinguish the two.

The essays are about philosophical questions that emerge within the game of Texas Hold’em.  I’ve only read the first essay, and I thought it was clearly written and somewhat interesting.  I plan on saying more about this essay in the next post.

The reason I got this book, which was given to me for free by the kind people at Open Court Publishing, was because I told them that I write for a poker blog, that I teach philosophy, that I would be willing to write a review of the book online, and that I would even consider using it as a text for my Intro. to Philosophy class.

If I do use the book in my class, I thought I would first teach the students how to play Hold’em (even let them play a little in class – I bet you wish you had me as a professor) and then have them write papers on the essays in the book.  I’d even consider posting interesting papers on PokerMoments.  Any thoughts about this idea would really be appreciated?

My so-called area of expertise in philospohy is what is called “philosophy of mind”.  I suspect that this area has little to do with Texas Hold’em, or more to the point, with what will be discussed in the book.  But I hope that I can bring my understanding of some of the basic philosophical issues to bear on the issues that arise in the book.  It’s at least worth a try.

3 thoughts on “Poker and Philosophy

  1. Poker can be used to easily make the epistemic/ontological distinction (what I am believe, what I know, what is true of the world, and the varying degrees of access that I have to each).

    Poker can also be used to discuss the role that emotion plays in the decisions that we make. It might also be used as an example of how we can use reason to overrule our emotions when beneficial.

    Anyway, I think it’s a good idea.

  2. I agree. In the first essay, the author argues that there are seven important life lessons that we learn from Texas Hold’em, one of them being that we must distinguish appearance from reality. By “appearance”, I assume that he means what we believe, and by “reality,” I assume he means what is true.

  3. And what about your liability for starting gambling problems in your colllege aged students? This past spring, The NYTimes magazine had an article about college student gambling, which I’ll write more about soon.

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