Patri Friedman goes insane at Caesar’s


The 2-5 No Limit table at Caesars was playing like the Big Game at the Bellagio this morning (July 2007 actually). A game where the average stack is maybe $500 was now being waged by 9 players with huge piles of $100 dollar bills, and the reason was Patri Friedman, who was doing his best impersonation of Stu Ungar on a bender.

Word around the poker room was that this kid was Economist Milton Friedman’s grandson. He’s 30 years old but minus his Don Johnson stubble beard would look around 12. He is maybe 5’2” tall, has a frizzed out Afro that looks ironed and has blonde highlights, and he was fisting Coronas and reeling back and forth, talking constantly yet sounding pretty close to passing out at every syllable. I’m not sure if he was drunk or just mad as a daisy.

Friedman is apparently a software engineer at Google, has no apparent regard for money, and considers himself something of a philosopher. Here’s how a web site describes his political belief system “Philosophically he is an anarcho-capitalist, most heavily influenced by Machinery of Freedom and The Enterprise of Law. Despite having strong (and libertarian) moral intuitions, he is a consequentalist, because he does not believe that his particular set of intuitions are the absolute truth, or that one necessarily exists. Given that many people have very different moral intutitions, and that libertarian policies have practical advantages, it seems best to argue for them on practical grounds.” Um, ok.

Here’s what he was doing to the 2-5 game at Caesars. In the big blind, he pays the guy next to him $10 to straddle. After a couple players call, he tosses a rubber banded brick of $100 bills into the pot and says “Make it $5000 – Aces are good.” He does this every about every third hand. Someone shows AQ and folds. Friedman has a mound of chips and hundreds strewn in a messy pile that he has no intention of cleaning up. He loses about $10,000 in two hands firing three bullets on every flop without looking at his cards. The rest of the guys at the table have obviously been called out of their vulture’s dens and are salivating into their own neat piles of hundreds. I walked over and saw this hand. The board is A Q 10 4. There is about $5000 in the pot. Friedman bets $1000 on the turn and is called. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to bet the river,” he murmers semi-coherently. The river is another rag and Friedman tosses in his $5000 bundle and says I bet $500. He is called by AK and shows 10 5.

“I used to play at the Venetian, but Jamie Gold owns that game and I’m not very good.” Apparently, this is how consequentialists play poker.

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