I just got off the phone with a mouse smasher. Or you could call him a mouse masher. (It sounds the same either way, whether you are saying it, or doing it.) I’m going to call him Humphrey. The topic was poker coaching. During the conversation, Humphrey asked some questions I had heard before:
Q: Did you really fold pocket aces before the flop just for the hell of it?
A: Yes. Can you think of a better reason?
Q: I tilt. Can you straighten me out?
A: No. But you can.
Q: What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?
A: I don’t know. And I don’t care.
Okay, I admit. Nobody has asked me that last question. But I’m ready if they do!
I asked Humphrey to elaborate on his tilting. Here’s what he told me:
“Usually my tilt is merely a percolating, churning, grinding, retching, undercurrent of suckiness and ill-being.”
“You don’t say.”
“But sometimes,” said Humphrey, “it gets really bad. It’s as if a tightly coiled spring of Reardon metal suddenly unwinds at the speed of insanity. The metal impales my arm and seizes control. My hand grabs my mouse, and then, with the zip and accuracy of a third baseman throwing to first, I fling the mouse at the wall and – kaBLAM, chinkle tink thunk – the mouse comes to rest, in pieces, on the floor, as do I.”
“And you call that tilt?”
“Of course it’s tilt! What the hell would you call it?”
“I’d call it a religious experience.”
“Think about it. You were redeemed. You were liberated. You were saved. Sounds like religious talk to me.”
“I wasn’t saved! I was violently enraged!”
::: insert soothing exhale here :::
“Let me ask you something.”
“Okay,” said Humphrey.
“How much is your typical win or loss per session?”
“I’d say it’s in the $200-$400 range.”
“Let’s say that instead of smashing your mouse, you had sat there and kept playing, swimming against your undercurrent of suckiness. What do you think your EV would have been for the rest of that session?”
“Not good. At all.”
“Okay. One more question. How much does a mouse cost?”
::: pause :::
“You’re right, I was saved,” said Humphrey.
“Yes you were. This time. But from here on in, it won’t be so easy. Now that you have seen The Way, you will need to develop an entirely new disciplinary practice, one that has never before existed on this earth. Are you ready for a challenge?”
“Possibly. What is it?”
“When you venture forth to acquire your replacement mouse, you will be tempted by the tilt demon. You must be prepared to defend, like a warrior, or else you will surely be slain.”
“Hanging in the aisles of merchandise, or browsing through an online store, you will see many mice before you. But you must purchase only one. For if you were to−”
“Okay, okay, I get it. You’re saying that if I’m such a tilt monkey that it’s sometimes hugely plus EV for me to smash my mouse, that I should embrace my rodent-killing ways. And to ensure I make money from mouse smashing, I must never buy more than one at a time. This isn’t the world’s most complicated idea.”
“True. Yet there are few master mouse smashers.”
“So is that it? Aren’t you going to break into some speech about how I shouldn’t let myself get that tilted in the first place?”
“Sounds like you already know that to me.”