1. A tournament as long as history and the tussling of big boys

    I once read a remarkable and eye-opening tome by Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor, on his reflections some two thousand years ago. It’s both enlightening and frightening how, despite our scientific worldview and the knowledge and technological advancement provided by it, the most basic, big decisions that steer society are mostly philosophical and based on values.

    Morally, people haven’t advanced all that much. In many ways, we might have even regressed some.
    Decisions that require wisdom are rarely made in royal court, these days. Instead, capitalism has focused power to the individual and this trend grows at an exponential speed. Capitalism has freed the individual mind, for better or worse. Another difference with the time two thousand years ago how much the stakes have increased.

    Using poker terms to describe history, you could compare it to an interminable tournament, with thousands of years spent on slow blind structure and deep stacks. Suddenly, the blinds double with every hand dealt. This will change the game on several levels of the world. We’re moving on to Winner Takes It All economy. The prize structure of the tournament will change.

    The sorts of game philosophical decisions we make through our lives – at micro-levels at the game tables of life, globally considering – are logically the same as the ones made by the world’s High Rollers at their own tables. The same as in poker, the logic of the game doesn’t change if the stakes do.

    When we sit at a poker table or our own micro-level game table of life, thinking about the question of morality, so do the High Rollers – hopefully.

    It’s not about the size of the stakes, but the philosophy behind the game of skill.
    Making the rules is another game of skill.

    Globalization is one grand final table, bringing together all the rest: the different cultures, economies, physiologies, genes, religions, worldviews, philosophies, etc. It’s amazing to see how elegantly various factors influence the different aspects of the game and form the final, monumental metagame.

    The one who plays the most efficiently wins. The minds who grab every possible jackpot are generally the ones to reach the final table with the biggest stacks.
    At least the tournament rounders know the benefits of a big stack at the final table.

    The stipulations of a global game of skill

    Are there any stipulations to a global game of skill? Some believe that the stipulations of a game of skill are the ethical boundaries set by God, boundaries that should never be crossed. Others think the limits are defined by a capitalist system and yet others say the limit lies where the ecological sustainability of the Earth ends. For some, it’s enough to observe mundane laws. For others, even those are unnecessary.

    The philosophy of values is central to, among others, the game of skill related to climate change. The core of the solution is philosophical: do we have an obligation and do we wish to do something about it? Are we required to research the effects of climate change in more detail or not? Are we allowed to live in a way that places the yet unborn future generations at risk? Can we reshape the ecological balance?

    Though many laud the powers of capitalism, individualism, human selfishness and working for one’s own benefit as a way to raise standards of living, I’m largely unconvinced.

    The High Rollers of the world are products of our time, results of the reigning culture and values. If we consider working for one’s own benefit one of our core values, disregarding any ethical concerns, then how could we expect the same to not happen on bigger tables?

    In a capitalist system, the power belongs to the big stacks. It centers on individual minds.
    Personally, I truly hope that the winner or winners have the ability to see the bigger picture in their own benefit.

    While scrutinizing the average level of humans’ understanding and objectivity, one can only hope that the most intelligent individuals, the future High Rollers of life and final table players will reach higher standards in their morality and objectivity than the regular citizen.

    When it comes to the final table, there’s cause for concern. Or do you believe that someone will grind at the game table of life from micro to high stakes games, with some play style and worldview and suddenly learn how to rebuild all of the original pillars supporting their game? I don’t.

    A quick chat with a civil servant about municipal mergers, a cab driver about Uber, a betting agency representative about game monopoly, a poker player about the problems of gambling or a tourist in Pattaya about human trafficking will often reveal that our species might not be inclined to look further than their own noses, after all.

    Perhaps one of our genetic attributes is our tendency to spend our pocket money before even reaching the sweets store.

    Political gamblers

    We humans can somehow appear almost innocent, the way we stumble through the world with rose tinted glasses firmly on. We take our clues from others. We spend our lives grinding, and so do the business executives – and everyone is just a small game piece with little effect on the whole. Everyone’s so focused on their own selves, their own industry and their own lives that seeing the big picture is nigh impossible.

    The problem is that reality is greater than the sum of its parts. When a destructive philosophy reaches the biggest game tables, we’re on our way to big trouble.

    Having fought to the very end for the most influential position in the world, Donald Trump, who enjoys massive support, comments on climate change as follows:

    The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.


    Trump may seem like a jolly character, who’s hard to take seriously. I wish that was the truth. He’s much more dangerous than most would believe.

    Trump promises to restore the United States to its past glory and appeals to the primitive emotions of the less educated populace, casting shadows on the scientific worldview that may be the sole saviour of the world in the years to come.

    Politics isn’t primarily about defending interests. It’s about affirming emotions.
    Social Animal

    If Mr. Trump sets out to lead the U.S. with the philosophy he introduced, the other nations will surely answer with a similar philosophy.

    The strong man of history that I greatly admire might have been right:

    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
    Winston Churchill

    Democracy might save the world, but only if the voters understand themselves and their relationship with the world.

    A strong leader who abandons scientific proof in matters essential to sustainable development makes for a very dangerous example.

    Sometimes the inevitability of the crash course of human idiocy, greed, nearsightedness, the thirst for adrenaline and the limits of the physical world is enough to make a mind despair.

    Alea iacta est!

    It makes you think. How will the dice of humanity fall?

    God does not play dice with the universe.
    Albert Einstein
    P.S. If someone feels like challenging me with heads up over poker, science or life philosophy, I can be reached e.g. on Twitter: Olli Mikael Rundgren @playing4science

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Olli Mikael Rundgren

Olli Rundgren


  • Has always loved games.
  • Played 4 years in the Finnish Football League First Division.
  • Profits as a part time poker player; €400.000.
  • Co-founder & CEO at Psyon Games
  • Believes that nonscientific claims of the world leaders should be shot down: Trump Vs Science


  • Studied chemistry, physics, cell- and molecular biology and physiology in the University of Jyväskylä.
  • Wrote his Bachelor's Thesis about the medical treatment of gambling addiction.
  • Writing his Master's Thesis about How to make impact with games.
  • Studied for a science teacher in order to positively effect on youth thinking.
  • Loves philosophy and psychology.
  • Reads one non-fiction book in a week.


Mission is to combine two his passions; science and games in order to make a huge positive impact in the world.


  • Loves and hates politics.
  • Enjoys working under a pressure.
  • Believes that good triumphs over bad...