‘On tilt’ in the Trump casino? You’re going to lose that bet

PokerBonus.com. Click for poker and the psychology of tilt.

“On tilt.”

You gotta know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em.  Sadly, folding is something very few people do well.

Hey, it happens to the best of us. Poker players end up “on tilt” all the time.  Being on tilt means letting your emotions get in the way of the facts before you. It means getting carried away. As a friend who’s a professional poker player told me recently, it means telling yourself something like:

“But I had two aces!!”

That’s what you say in your head when you get two near-perfect hole cards in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em. And you keep telling yourself that, and keep betting, even even as the flop cards come up…not aces.  And someone else problem has a flush.

You’re winning, until you aren’t. You could have folded when it became obvious the risk was there but….you had two aces. So you doubled down.  You were on tilt.

I say this now because each time a new revelation comes out about President Trump, I diligently seek out what his supporters are saying about it.  I often  think they have a point.  Even last night, over the classified information disclosure to the Russians, I thought they had a point.  Did the President really give away sensitive information? Hard to say. Spook stories are notoriously hard to confirm.  And plenty of folks in the intelligence community have it out for Mr. Trump. Maybe the story was wrong.

But with each passing day, with each revelation, Trump supporters just sound on tilt to me. Hey, it happens. Too many stories, too much public confirmation, too little plausible explanation other than the obvious.

The hardest thing in the world is to admit your mistake.   There’s plenty of research into the psychology of wrongness, of rationalization.  Now is probably a good time to familiarize yourself with it.

Being wrong can cost you a lot of money.  I’ve written about this a lot.  People suffer from something called “confirmation bias.” Once you make a decision, that decision HAS to be right, or else your world falls apart. That why Bernie Madoff victims were the last to know.  When you place your trust in someone, it’s devastating to find out it was misplaced. People have a terrible habit of trusting what I call “the man in the white shirt” who manages their money, long after that man has proven himself capable of nothing other than taking fees.  With scam artists, on tilt goes much farther.  Right now, I am speaking with a young man who’s grandfather has sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to scammers overseas — there’s no talking him out of it.  It’s tragic. Look at any romance scam website, and you’ll see endless examples of this.  Faith is a wonderful, terrible thing.

And so, we come to Trump. Is he guilty of obstruction of justice? I don’t know. Courts will decide. He did admit on national TV that he asked the FBI director about an investigation of his campaign during a dinner where about the director’s future was discussed. He volunteered this.  Sounds like obstruction to me, whether or not it is an actual crime.

Then, there’s the Comey memo, which says Trump flat-out asked for an investigation to be halted.

I get that people are skeptical of the news media.  And Comey. Maybe he made it up. Maybe The New York Times made it up.  Sure, that’s possible. It’s also possible the monkeys randomly typing could write Shakespeare plays.

But if you discount or dismiss the allegations against Trump? Well, now you’re just on tilt.

Give this a thought: Who stands to gain more by fudging the truth – the Times or the Trump family?

Sure, talk about how much you hated Hillary. Share your Obama memes.  You know what that sounds like?

“But I had two aces.”

Some people will keep betting until the hand is called.  But the smart bet is to recognize when you are on tilt. And fold. Before you lose any more.

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About Bob Sullivan 1098 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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