Thursday, January 26, 2006


Won't Get Fooled Again

I finally roused myself to order Taleb's "Fooled By Randomness" after Pete B mentioned it again, and I was not disappointed. It's a brilliant book. Even though it's ostensibly about financial markets, the poker applications jump off every page. And while he was to some extent preaching to the choir in my case, I still took a great deal from it. If you have any interest in the tournament circuit, you must read this book. In a perfect world, anyone who wanted to report on tournaments would have to pass an exam based on this book first, still we should remember that, as Taleb himself says, we don't want everyone to understand it.

Meanwhile I was ordering some CDs off Amazon today so while I was there I tapped in Poker/Books/Newest First. I waded through 6 pages of 10 "yet to be published" books before there was anything I could buy. Not one of these (or anything else much) caught my interest in terms of purchasing, although a few made me snicker when I saw who the author was. If a single one of these 60 books is one tenth as insightful as Taleb's, a book which as I say isn't ostensibly about poker at all, then I'll eat my proverbial hat. Too much information indeed.

I enjoy reading your blog. I thought you might be interested in this pending new offering co-written by Taleb -

The Poker Face of Wall Street by Aaron Brown, Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Thank you, I look forward to reading that.

I guess that it is a bit like the Fox (John, not Russell, estimable though the latter is) book and Zen And The Art of Poker. You learn more about poker from reading on things elsewhere, rather than on the tactical points of how to play hands.

One day when I write about what in my experience makes a professional poker player a great professional player, talent with the cards and being able to read your opponents is likely to come a long way down the list.

But, more interesting is, who are these people reading your blog who suddenly appear when you mention Taleb? Is Taleb reading our stuff? Is Negreanu? We can never know.

Just for the record, I wrote The Poker Face of Wall Street, Nassim Taleb wrote the forward for me. He's a friend of mine, and I agree that Fooled by Randomness has more useful poker wisdom (and non-poker wisdom) than many books based on tables of probabilities or as-told-to anecdotes of tournament winners. Taleb has another book, Dynamic Hedging, that's equally essential for traders. He's working on The Black Swan, which will be even better than FBR.

People pop up on the blog when you mention Taleb because they do web searches. He's an interesting guy with a lot of fans, and discussions that mention him are often interesting. In my case, I'm tracking mentions of my book.
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