Lessons Learned From Solitaire

I have been playing alot of solitaire lately. Mostly due to the fact that my wife has been gone for six months, but also in part due to her return.

Solitaire is a game, which has a few ways you can win. Each of us can define that win in different ways. I would offer there are three distinct ways to win.

  • Not to play at all
  • To play for the pattern
  • To play to complete the task

Task completion is the most common form of win - its a sense that you actually did something by shuffling up four suits of cards that were patterned after the four seasons, hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades... and neatly reorganize them into either spider stacks in two and three deck suits or the other variants of the game, until the cards are reorganized into whatever that variant calls a win. This kind of win is that warm feeling you get from reorganizing your sock drawer or rearranging pencils in order from lowest to highest.. its a kind of feeling people go after when they want to waste time, and they don't have one of those really cool little miniature zen gardens on their desk (the ones with the little rake).

The next form of win is more subtle. You play solitaire as a meta-game,and the goal is to figure out as early as you can if a certain deal is going to win or not based on , essentially - counting down the shoe (or said another way, what the cards look like through the deal - assuming they are all played perfectly). This form of win shares important characteristics with - 'not to play the game at all' - if it is played properly. It basically amounts to checking how much transition room you have between flops, what sort of likely outcome is available - and counting the shoe. Playing in this fashion can sharpen you for baccarat. And in general, it can make you a bit sharper if you can train yourself to see patterns. But you know you are playing well when you can see how the deal is going and not have to play the whole thing through to find out.

The win I like the most, is the pattern win. I like playing fast, and trying to figure out if a deal will win or not. I only get annoyed at solitaire if I'm playing slow (or if you're playing against the computer - if you are taking hints). I only complete the rows to check and see if I was right. After awhile, your games get faster and faster. Playing pattern almost always guarantees you're not going to be playing for too long.

Playing for patterns, in my view - gives you some fun insights into other games. For example, Megan McCain dropped away from twitter. I actually see a parallel there. Twitter is after all, a sort of game you play with other people. "Where are you now?". They're trying to figure out what sort of a pattern you make on their little map of you.

Megan McCain is a fairly decent blogger. And blogs allow you to take the time to get it right. Twitter, on the other hand - is a kind of form of micro blog- a shibboleth version of an actual blog in which your threads are formed by all these little micro updates from the loose ends you would otherwise have later gathered to make a real blog post. Commenting is slightly nuts, it amounts to crossing tweets and using tags to keep them sorted. Twitter is not designed to be thread friendly.

However, it does tell a story. Watching the cards fall - Megan chose to drop away from twitter altogether. She considers herself republican, and is indeed somewhat conservative - however she is shouldered with membership in a dying political party. The fact that Republicans were attempting to drive her micro posts into a kind of feed for a game they played in the late 20th century - the whole mindless idiots arguing about everything they see game - gave her reason enough to drop away.

Just as one might learn lessons from a game like solitaire - Megan figured out a good solution . Of course, the lobbyists want to keep the GOP around as long as they can so they can rig the game.

But Megan isn't playing. And in my view. She found the win.