MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun: Poker

I love the game Poker (Texas Hold’em version). The mechanics of Poker are a standard deck of 52 cards and some chips for betting. Mechanics also include the policies of the game, such as the goal (making the best possible 5-card hand), the different phases leading to a full hand (the pre-flop, flop, turn, and river), the player roles (dealer, small blind, big blind), and betting rules (call, raise, fold, blinds keep increasing).

The dynamics of Poker involve shuffling, dealing, fanning cards, betting, bluffing, and strategizing.

  • The 52-card deck is shuffled at the beginning of each round.
  • The dealer deals cards from the deck to the players and for the flop, turn, and river.
  • Players hold their cards by fanning them. 
  • Players bet by placing chips on the table surface in front of them.
  • Players bluff by betting a lot of chips, appearing confident, when they actually have a not-so-good hand.
  • Players strategize by analyzing the strength of their hand, the probabilities of them winning against an opponent, etc.

The aesthetics of Poker are 3 main kinds of fun: challenge, competition, and abnegation.

  • Challenge: the game itself is an obstacle course. It is difficult to predict the relative strength of your current hand against the hands of other players, hence it is difficult to determine how much to bet and when to fold.
  • Competition: the game is an expression of dominance against other players. For example, you feel good when you win a big pot of money, or when you force another player to go all-in and eliminate them.
  • Abnegation: the game is a pastime. Many people play it after a long day of work or at family/friend gatherings to kill time. The repetition throughout multiple rounds, as well as the simple rules, lets you disengage or zone out (unless you’re betting actual money).

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