Ripping a Page from this Poker-Inspired Novel

Just a warning to my readers. In this prophecy, I’m going to bluff.

Some of you will not want to read it. Hey, it may be hokum as usual. But I’m going to skip all the gut-wrenching panic about coronavirus, investment volatility, equity values, political vanities, and preen seriously about sex.

I’m an octogenarian so you know I must be real.

But first let me tell you about bluffing. For example, the coronavirus and its promoters are bluffing. They don’t really mean it. Rather than fold our economy in response, we should call.

Just an idea prompted by a can’t-put-it-down mystery thriller about sex and poker by Jane Stanton Hitchcock, a highly sensuous septuagenarian professional poker player. The book’s called Bluff and it’s just been chosen as one of five finalists for this year’s Dashiell Hammett mystery writing award.

Telling a tantalizing story of “billionaires, bimbos, and bigamy” … “the Vagina Vigilantes versus the Viagra Villains” … she proclaims: “The tournament is over… We won.”

I don’t want to tip you off to the plot turns but I’ll tell you this: She knows her game in intimate high society mores and you won’t want to miss the climactic courtroom revelation and revenge.

The poker game is called “No Limits Texas Hold’em,” in which, roughly, the players all receive five cards and then are supplied three additional cards in series — the flop, the turn, and finally The River, when the outcome is sealed.

“When you bluff in poker,” writes Jane, “you’re essentially telling a story that your opponent will believe so that he or she will fold their hand. You have to make your story convincing or else your opponent will call you and you’ll be out.”

I’m not going to call Jane on that poker tournament between the sexes. In professional poker, as she confesses, 99% of your opponents are going to be male. As an old lady codger, she could count on being mis-underestimated like George-W.

Jane says: “If I’ve learned one thing in poker and in life, it is: Never underestimate your opponent.” That is a useful lesson these days.

Applying Poker to Life

Listen to forensic futurist geopolitician Peter Zeihan: “China’s 2010s boom, fueled by a bulge in mid-twenties [demographic], peak productivity and consumption, will give way to bust, famine, and failure…” That’s mostly a result of the one child policy, which gave China “the worst of all possible worlds.”

Also oxidating historically is the great Andy Kessler: “Question everything… cable, energy, mobile, social networks…. I’d bet that so-called ‘clean and renewable’ energy will be set back ten years by low energy prices.

“And the end of China’s dominance is surely coming.”

It’s a new era, and to play it right, they all say, you should know how to bluff. No better way to learn than to read this book, though you may want to wait for Bluff, the film version. It’s coming from Paramount, which bought the rights in an auction.

But that would deprive you of the revel of early exposure to Hitchcock’s dancing dialog and racy style and sleazy sultry characters (with real-world celebrity echoes from the author’s amazing portfolio of famous friends, who run from the late Jackie Onassis to the larcenous Kenneth Starr, the accountant, not the lawyer).

Zeihan again: “We are now — right now — suspended in a deep breath moment between eras of history, and the world’s leading superpower [that’s us!] is terrified.”

That’s like Pearl Harbor or Manhattan Project or Sputnik terrified. Our momentary terror tends to prompt our most glorious successes. The rest of the world better watch out, is the idea.

Zeihan writes: “I lack the vocabulary to communicate how fantastically foolish it is for Chinese state media to spread conspiracy theories that the US army originated the COVID-19 and dropped it into Wuhan.”

I didn’t know about that contemptible blunder by the Chinese media. But more important than the maneuvers of the Chinese state are the creations of their private-sector companies that we follow here. Alibaba, Tencent, and Ping An are not going away and they are being joined regularly by more public players in the world’s most vibrant initial public offering market. China is arguably in the lead in most of the leading new technologies and business strategies in AI, big data, manufacturing, and mobility.

In my boat, technology may even trump demographics. Demographics after all are mostly an effect of technology.

(Zeihan’s also pushing a book, so he may be bluffing. It’s called Disunited Nations: The Scramble for Power in an Ungoverned World.)

I believe a more important theme than the scramble for power will be the quest for wealth, which is knowledge. Knowledge may well be more readily available in a world escaping from the shackles of imperious governments. We can exploit new opportunities opening around the globe.

Today’s Prophecy

Well let’s get back to sex. At least in the sense that Matt Ridley explains about having sex with ideas: “Ideas are having sex with each other as never before.”

That’s because of all these new industries that some people believe are over, but which become more valuable as the world turns in the midst of chaos and confusion about coronavirus.

You have to distinguish, between tired mobile (5G) and spectrum wars, and new mobile of cognitive radios, and agile bandwidth working in unlicensed spectrum bands.

You have to distinguish between cable TV and cable as the chief vessel of internet fiber optics to American homes, like mine.

You have to differentiate between the huffing and puffing between the US government and China’s and the actual advances being made around the world in artificial intelligence and blockchain security, new internet architectures, and new forms of real money.

You have to understand that all the ululations about social networks and their alleged invasions of our privacy should not distract us from the increasingly valuable role they play in our lives. In an era of bluffs and plagues, these companies will move from value subtracted advertising strategies to micropayments and new services.

And are you going to bet on the coronavirus to bring us down, or on the fantastically creative new biotech companies that are aiming at it with CRISPR, AI-protein folding, new targeted drugs, and other innovations?

And when you invest these days, you do not want to move in and out, trading and folding like a teenager. You want to choose innovative companies and stay in them.

We’ve been coming to grasp that all the unicorns and other luxury private investment valuations are illusory until there is a liquidity event or a profitability breakout.

As Jane Stanton Hitchcock writes: “As I’ve learned from poker, nothing counts until The River.”


George Gilder
Editor, Gilder’s Daily Prophecy

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George Gilder

George Gilder is the most knowledgeable man in America when it comes to the future of technology — and its impact on our lives.

He’s an established investor, writer, and economist with an uncanny ability to foresee how new breakthroughs will play out, years in advance.

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