The correct answer can take some time

February 27, 2018, Stephen Bloomfield  

Take this short and quick quiz:

1. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs
$1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
2. If it takes five machines five minutes to make five widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?
3. In a lake, there’s a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?
How do you think you did on the quiz? The answers seem obvious, right?

1. The ball costs 10 cents.
2. It would take 100 minutes for 100 machines to make 100 widgets.
3. It would take 24 days for the patch of lily pads to cover half the lake if it took 48 to cover the whole thing.

Well, this quiz produces the wrong answers for many people. We think too quickly; we don’t patiently assess the situation; we take thin slices of information and don’t bother to analyze the situations and our choices or decisions seem obvious. With time, deceleration and concentration, decision-making changes.
The correct answers are below. If you worked out the problem patiently and got the correct answers, that’s great; if not, you need some work on patience. Patience is a combination of attending, concentration, weighing options and weighing consequences.

In poker, the level of patience depends on the structure of the game. A satellite with the top 10 moving on requires more patience than a sit-and-go. Short-stacked in a deep tournament, I folded my way from eighth and min-cash to third to a much nicer payday.

But many poker players are more impulsive, saying and thinking, “I didn’t come here to fold; I came to play,” or “I am card dead and bored, I am going to start playing more hands.”

So much of how we play depends on what we expect and want from the game.

If patience fits your desired outcome and style, and yet you find you need work, then practice.

In poker, you have to have discipline, be patient, take the right opportunities, be aggressive, but not reckless, know when to take a chance, know when to bluff and know when you’re beat.

These are not only good poker skills, but good life skills, too. As always, keep your head in the game.

As for the quiz, the ball costs 5 cents (the bat is a dollar more at $1.05, so they total $1.10; if five machines could churn out five widgets in five minutes, then 100 machines could churn out 100 widgets in five minutes, and finally, a patch of lily pads that doubles in size every day and covers the whole lake in 48 days would have covered half of it in 47 days, doubling to cover the rest on the 48th day.

— Dr. Stephen Bloomfield is a licensed psychologist and avid poker player. Email him at