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Climbing a Rock

Some years before while visiting a friend's home I looked upon some rock climbing magazines. The magazine contained various features on and references to "free climbing", often up difficult routes, at great height, without the safety measure of a belay (a rope tied around the body in case of a fall).

The climbers who engage in this adventurous activity tend to be true experts at what they do. Given their expertise and sharp poker judgment concerning the limits of their ability, some of them will argue that their great skill takes most of the risk out of it. To some extent it seems to be true. After all, many of these climbers are able to complete one difficult climb after another without making what could obviously be a dangerous mistake.

The reward is a greater gratification upon completing such risky climbs without any external safety measures. I think, however, that their pastime indicates a failure to assess correctly the risk-reward ratio of such climbing. It is the risk that they judge inaccurately. Possibly, they do assess the risk accurately in the near future; their knowledge makes it very small. Each time such a climber accept a climb he knows very well that he will almost surely live to tell about it. The chance of him falling on a particular climb may be, say, I in 1000 or even less.

Where they go wrong, however, is in assessing the risk over a number of climbs. Projecting ahead over a number of climbs, the risk that at some point a climber will fall becomes threateningly greater. Assuming 999-to-1 odds against fall on a given climb, if we look ahead 1000 climbs (which might truly be completed over a number of years) we find that the chance of a fall - which is more likely to be dangerous - becomes 63 percent! I wonder if many of these climbers would continue their activity if they evaluated in this level of risk in this way.

In my poker experience before writing the above paragraphs, I became aware of some subjective evidence in support of my conclusions. I discussed this climbing example with the professional poker player who has both a god feel of and an academic understanding of the math involved in risk-reward assessments. This player, known in poker world as "Gasmask Mike," informed that as a youth he engaged in other unprotected climbs, though in actually "amateur" way with no formal background in rock climbing. However, they were easier climbs but for an untrained climber no less difficult.

Mike thought that he made about 15 of these climbs. He also evaluated that on few occasions, he might have had as much as a 20 percent chance of failing. That was before than playing poker and become engaged in the risk-reward assessments it requires. He exclaimed, "I only made one of those climbs after I got seriously into play poker. After that I just better appreciated the math of it, and realized what an incredible risk it was." (Remember that rock climbers can cut their risk of death greatly simply by using standard equipment and safety procedures.)

Selecting a Medical Provider .

If you are spotted with a life threatening illness, such as a serious kind of cancer, where should you go for treatment? Many people just go for a treatment in their local area or at the nearest medical center that treats that particular illness. Another option is to travel to a major medical center which has established itself as a top center for treatment of cancer illness. Some people take that option but some cannot afford the additional expense of such travel, or find it too inconvenient. Here the reward is monetary savings and convenience which must be looked against the potential for an increased risk of death. (There are other emotional elements involved in being away from home and work for longer periods. Only to explain, I will specify that I am talking about situation in which this is not a major issue.)

I suggest that when a leading treatment provider has established a track record poker concepts indicating that treatment there should increase your chance of survival by some significant amount, you should seriously consider traveling there if you are at all able to afford it. Are not the inconvenience and expense worth, say, an eight percent better chance of survival? I believe that many people take their treatment in the local area only because there are treatment providers there who are fully trained and qualified to help them. They try to fulfill their requirements. While their local physicians may also be qualified, when you are dealing with your life isn't prudent to look for someone who is not only qualified but is the best in the field? Considering risk against reward suggest it is.

Nowadays, our lives in this world are all at risk. To minimize our risk of death in the near future would, in fact, exhaust the vitality from most of our lives. We would never leave our homes. However, the examples above suggest that in some areas people may not identify what is really an alarmingly large increase in their risk of death. Once they do identify it they can often minimize that risk essentially with the little loss of the rewards they seek. Furthermore, the familiarity with gambling guide theory and a good feel for risk-reward ratios can help in identifying such situations. In short, poker saves lives.

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