When gambling is more than a game: my Hurricane Irma decisionsBy Nick Sortal, CDC Gaming ReportsSeptember 11, 2017 at 10:12 pmOdds. Percentages. Risk versus reward. Those are things I usually ponder at the poker table, but featured in more critical issues in recent days as Hurricane Irma closed in on my South Florida home. Still, as with poker, as more information became available I tried to calmly determine the best option.I’m much more adept today at poker thinking than when I started learning Texas Hold ‘em 10 years ago. Among other things, I follow the advice of one poker instructor I had: the real goal in poker is not to make money, it’s to make correct decisions. For example, if you have four cards to a flush after the flop, you are roughly a 2-to-1 underdog to hit the necessary fifth card. So if the pot isn’t going to yield at least 2-to-1 on your next bets, you fold.Our option with Hurricane Irma was to stay somewhere in South Florida, meaning that we would face a high probability of losing electricity, a decent possibility of our house being flattened, and a chance, though remote, of loss of life. Or we could grab our most important possessions (mine being eight scrapbooks about our family that my mother spent incredible efforts in creating), spend a relatively small amount of our personal wealth (our chip-stack, if you will) on gas and hotel, and be 100 percent certain we would survive.Staying had a huge downside, with very little upside.We left at 5:30 a.m. Thursday for Tampa, where we would stop and evaluate. From there we would weigh the options of going to Atlanta, Tallahassee, Nashville, and other places. We decided on Tallahassee because we knew the storm wouldn’t hit there until Monday, and we got lucky when a friend booked a room for us. As more information arrived, we could drive from Tallahassee east, west, north, or even back to South Florida.We caught a break Saturday when the storm veered west, sparing our South Florida home from the brunt of the storm. At this point, we were confident our home would not be flattened, which meant that the stakes were lowered.The next decision came Sunday, as Irma approached us in Tallahassee, weakened but enough of a danger that we didn’t want to mess with it. We played the percentages and chose to migrate farther north. My wife, Robyn, has always wanted to visit a friend near Asheville, N.C., so that’s where we headed Sunday, to chill for a few days while the storm clears. (Sidebar upside: happy wife = happy life.)Turns out that after Irma made landfall on Sunday, our property damage report was one fallen tree, half of a fence damaged, and only 15 minutes of power loss. We could have stayed home and been fine. I’m pleased to have been wrong about the storm on this one. If problems come down to lack of power and inability to get onto the Internet, I’d say that’s a darned good thing.Looking back, it was a week when I based my actions on the best information available, and I’m glad it’s over. I’m happiest with risk versus reward calculations when the gravest outcome is losing my stack to some dolt too stupid to comprehend the 12-to-1 odds against him, who then hits his inside straight.