You've just been offered $129,000 for a silver case with a big number on the outside and an amount of money ranging from a penny to a million dollars on the inside.
$129,000 is more than you've ever made in your life. It will solve every money problem you currently have. The bills will all be paid. The car will be yours. You can travel, you can treat your friends and family and you can gamble worry-free.
And you say, "No."
It's a game show that better demonstrates the human nature of greed even more than the short-lived game show named after the deadly sin. Of course, that old game show featured our own Joe Speaker, but I digress. And this time, we have a shiny-domed Howie Mandell instead of Hall of Fame host Chuck Woolery. Yet again, I digress.
In case you haven't seen, Deal or No Deal features 26 cases with amounts ranging from a penny to a million dollars. You select a single case which is yours if you keep it until the end. Then you begin opening the rest of the cases which eliminates the possibilities of those amounts being in your case.
Periodically, the "banker" tries to buy your case from you based on what's probably a rather simple formula that factors in the dollar amounts still in play. In other words, pick a bunch of cases with small amounts and there's a better chance your case has a big amount and, thus, you'll get a higher offer from the banker.
When the game gets down to about a half-dozen cases or so, the game gets really interesting. I sit on my couch and think, "How could they turn down more than $100,000?" But then I realize it's a lot easier to say that when I'm not the one staring at the possibility of five or ten times that amount.
And maybe that's the mindset we face at the poker table on a regular basis. How many times have you looked down at the nut flush draw, faced an all-in that gave you the wrong odds, and yet you called anyway? How many times have you faced an all-in reraise while holding pocket Q's and had to decided to risk it all on a hunch?
Humans are greedy by nature. Americans are greedier than most. Poker players are the greediest of all. We see that flush draw and imagine the possibilities. We see that big pocket pair and think it can hold up. We're often thinking less about the cards and more about the pot. It's in our nature.
The best poker players fight this urge. Greed is a powerful force. And in many cases it pays off. But then you have to ask yourself: Do I lose more the times it doesn't pay off than I make the times it does?
It may not have the ring of "Deal... or No Deal?" But it's a question that may save you a little money at the tables.