Jason’s One-Card Stud Poker Model of Human Mating, And How to Hack It For Benefit

Jason’s one-card stud poker model of human mating goes like this:

Imagine you are seated at a poker table with both sexes in attendance. The dealer shuffles the deck and says, “This game is called one-card stud poker. You each draw a single card and, without looking at it, hold it up on your forehead where everyone can see it but you. Then the betting begins.” What a strange game, you think. I don’t know my own card’s ranking, but I know everyone else’s.

This, in a nutshell, is the situation in humans. For most of our evolution, we had no direct awareness of ourselves or our appearance or desirability as a mate. For men this wasn’t a big problem: attempt to mate with every female and see which ones accept. But for females, whose required investment in the gestation, birth, and early childhood in their offspring was much greater, this posed an evolutionary problem: how did our female ancestors know if the male attempting to mate with her was a good genetic investment relative to her own? If she held out for a male that was too far out of her league, she risked losing fertile time and missing out on mating. If she mated with inferior males, she risked bearing inferior offspring. What was a Paleolithic girl to do?

So females evolved a mechanism to determine whether a particular male was a step up, and worth their time, or a step down, whom they should avoid: whether or not that male was willing to spend effort to mate with her, or whether he could take her or leave her. Remember, this was a time before mirrors and before awareness of self, so women could not directly evaluate their own attractiveness.

So when a male begged and groveled, offered her gifts, and hung around her, waiting for a chance, she knew he perceived her as a step up for him, and that she could probably do better. But the male who could take her or leave her must have better mating options than she presented, and thus he would likely be a step up for her offspring.

And don’t we still see this in effect today? Men who are “assholes” frequently get attractive women because since he can treat her badly, he must have better options and she would do well to mate with him. The disinterest gay men have for women often makes women find them irresistible. And those men who beg and wait around get put in the friend zone where there is little or no mating.

So men, if you want to get more attractive women, learn to cultivate a romantically detached manner. You are aware of her, and there might be some interest, or even rituals like dating, but you aren’t attached to her attractiveness and you certainly aren’t going to wait around for her or, god forbid, beg. At the end of the day, you can take her or leave her because you have better mating options. It’s not a one variable interaction, but you can certainly stack the deck in your favor by hacking this feature of human evolution.

2 thoughts on “Jason’s One-Card Stud Poker Model of Human Mating, And How to Hack It For Benefit”

  1. Excellent post, particularly useful for young men. Took me a bit of time to realize that rational behavior with women brings irrational results, and vice versa. Once I started signaling lukewarm interest, my success with women improved drastically.
    I would also add that I think the appeal in assholes, for a lot of women, lies in the fact that they want to be the one for whom the asshole reforms. And if he doesn’t it lets her play the martyr and get praise from her friends. An Adamsian two ways to win situation.
    Would be interesting to know how this dynamic works out in gay communities.



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