Why Poker players smelling of lemon juice may suffer the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Why Poker players smelling of lemon juice may suffer the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Grosvenor Poker has released their most comprehensive study of UK poker players, and the results show that poker players suffer from the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Lemon water, curcumin, warm water, first thing in the morning. I can’t remember why I drink it. There is only a limited space in my head, so I push out irrelevant stuff like whether the sun goes around the earth, what temperature means, and why I drink lemon water, curcumin and warm water in the morning.Why Poker players smelling of lemon juice may suffer the Dunning-Kruger Effect

I’m using a fork to squeeze the juice into a glass. My nipper is jabbing me in my shins, “Up! Up! Up! Up!” I pick her up, she grabs my lemon, the inevitable grimace, and it comes back like a baton in a relay race.

I smear some of it on her cheeks.

“It will make you invisible,” I tell her.

She doesn’t get it.

She’s 14-months-old.

But McArthur Wheeler got it.

In the mid-90s, Wheeler decided to rob a bank. I’m not sure if he lived on Skid Row selling his come for wine, but he was a dealer short of a poker table for sure.

The plan was simple. Wheeler wouldn’t need stockings or a balaclava. Instead, he would smear lemon juice on his face, because he believed lemon juice made him invisible to the bank’s security cameras.

I am quite sure he was of low intelligence.

I’m also sure he had a penchant for a game of poker.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect 

Listen to the Sam Harris podcast. It’s illuminating. It gets you thinking. You learn many new things. This week, during a conversation with The Deaf of Expertise author, Tom Nichols, when talking about Donald Trump’s rise in power, I learned a new term.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect. 

Inspired by Wheeler’s citric version of the Emperors New Clothes, social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger researched the awareness of one’s competence and the competence of others. They packaged the results into a paper entitled: “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” 

The research revealed a cognitive bias with people of low ability suffering from an illusory superiority complex. It seems there is a metacognitive inability for people of low abilities to recognise their ineptitude. The theory even stretches to those of high abilities, who underestimate their ability and presume complicated tasks are more manageable than they are.

Donald Trump suffers from the Dunning-Kruger effect.

McArthur Wheeler, also.

And after reading the latest survey from Grosvenor Poker, I hazard a guess that poker players have are also tainted with this phenomenon.

The Questionnaire

Grosvenor Poker has released a UK poker survey they are calling the largest in the past decade, with the involvement of 2,000 UK-based poker players.

Here are the results: 

Perceived Ability 

The survey uses the metric of ‘average’ but is not clear on what ‘average’ means to those questioned. When I stopped thinking about selling stories to sex magazines for a minute, I couldn’t work out if I was to compare myself to the ‘average’ of the recreational players I mill with, or the professionals?

That aside, the results show that poker players are very confident people, or are sufferers of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Why Poker players smelling of lemon juice may suffer the Dunning-Kruger Effect93% believe they have an average or above average poker playing ability. Now that’s a good thing because there was me thinking that poker was getting more robust, people are losing more often, hence a reduction in population. But if everyone thinks they are better than they are then maybe I am wrong?

As a Northerner, I always hated the Southerners. I was conditioned to believe they think they are superior to everyone else in the UK. 58% of those who believe they are above average came from London. 55% of those from the West Midlands and the East of England had a different opinion, believing they were average or below average.

And parents of kids living in Celtic countries are programmed to hate the English, believing they have a superiority complex based on nothing more than ancient tales of William Wallace, and a few sporting results. Maybe that’s why 54% of Scots believe they are average or below average?

It seems the higher in stakes you rise the less likely you are to think you are the Albert Pierrepoint of the poker world. 93% of small stakes players thought they were average or above average, 92% of medium stakes players felt the same. Only 77% of high stakes players played ball.

If you are investing £50+ in a poker game, then 75% of them believe they are the nuts, whereas only 23% of those playing £2 or less believe their hype.


The older you are, the more humble you become.

57% of people below 35 thought they were average or better than average. 67% of the 54+ brigade thought they were average or worse than average.


You won’t win anything by predicting that the men were cockier than the women. 52% of men thought they were average or above, whereas only 31% of the female of the species felt the same.


92% of those polled preferred to play in their local venue (casino or home game), but a high number of people do or would play online (75% of 55-64 year-olds, and 86% of 18-24 year-olds). 84% of people aged 55+ preferred playing on an electronic device. 20% of 35-44-year-olds use a tablet. 23% of 25-34 year-olds use mobile phones.

Celebrity Status 

Being the most successful live tournament player, based on money won, gets you more limelight, and I guess that’s why 20% of those polled claimed that Sam Trickett was their favourite UK-based player.

Being the face of Only Connect, having a column in The Guardian, and being the only player to ever win two European Poker Tour (EPT) titles must have helped Victoria Coren-Mitchell grab 31% of the female vote. 21% of the 35+ brigade also voted her as their favourite female poker player (I assume the nippers don’t understand her posh humour).

29% of 18-24-year-olds claim that Will Kassouf is their favourite player, meaning the timing of the poll is everything. Two years ago, nobody would have heard of the fella who bangs on about coconuts more than a starving monkey.

Poker Resources 

The death of the physical poker rag affects 46% of the 55+ brigade because they rarely, if ever, consume online poker content. 45% of the 25-34 read or watch poker material online, and 64% of 18-24 group watch poker videos, read online strategy articles or hangout on 2+2 acting like a complete obnoxious twat.

Did they ask the right questions?

I have my doubts.

I mean, come on, what happened to how many of you smear lemon on your face when playing live poker so you can see other people’s hole cards?