Episode 209: Patrick “patio11” McKenzie

Patrick McKenzie, known as “patio11” on Hacker News and elsewhere, is a blogger, consultant, and all-around public intellectual on subjects related to software and business. He’s also, as it happens, an avid if occasional poker player. We talk to him about why poker merits any of his limited spare time, what he’s learned from and about it, and his advice for poker players interested in software development.

We also discuss our recent match against DeepStack. If you missed it, you can hear our (most recent) interview with Michael Bowling of the Computer Poker Research Group and check out a replay of the games we played on Twitch.


0:30 – hello
15:57 – patrick

13 thoughts on “Episode 209: Patrick “patio11” McKenzie

  1. I was listening to another podcast of yours, but I was hiking… What was the name of the site that recommended to stake poker players at WSOP?
    Thanks. (PS – your podcasts are totally helping me to get in better shape – mentally and physically.)

    • Thanks for the comment! Last year, Andrew and I offered shares through StakeKings–that was just last year, though. Honestly, I’m not keeping up with that scene too much, and I don’t know which of YouStake / StakeKings / etc. has the most traffic or is most user-friendly.

      Thanks very much for your comment! Great to hear that you’re finding the podcast beneficial. I used to listen to podcasts on walks/hikes all the time, but now it’s much more likely I’ll be busy training my dog. And thanks for listening.

    • “Salary Negotiation”
      “Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names”
      “Don’t Call Yourself A Programmer, And Other Career Advice”
      “Doing Business in Japan”
      “How Running A Business Changes The Way You Think”

      He’s a stylish writer and is good at a lot of things I’m bad at!

        • One day let me tell you the story of my trip to South Korea, involving meet-the-parents style naked bathing with an army general, inadvertently staying in a brothel, sharing a bed with one of the general’s old army buddies who was very active in his sleep, and more besides.

  2. Awesome guest – a really interesting figure from a totally different sphere to mine. I’ll definitely be following him further.

    Could I ask about scripting languages. What do they do? As someone with good excel (or maybe barely competent in this company) I know its value in the office, so the comments were interesting.

    Also, Japan strikes me as a slightly odd choice of home for a software guy.

    • I really don’t mean this snarkily, but in this case the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry is useful:


      More generally, I take the spirit of Patrick’s remark to be that there are languages, especially Python and Ruby, which are pretty gentle to learners and which are great for hacking together quick one-off projects. So, for example, when I needed to strip out all of a committee member’s comments from a draft of my dissertation (they’d been inserted inline in Word), I wrote a quick Python program for the job. If you, say, have a lot of emails to yourself with poker results and you want to go through them to extract and format those results, again either of these languages would be a good choice.

      Not coincidentally, both these languages make string manipulation very easy (especially if you’re dealing with certain kinds of “well-behaved” strings such as you’re likely to find in an English speaker’s email or on en.wikipedia.com).

  3. Cheers – I used to know Perl, so I guess it looks sort of similar. I can’t immediately think of a problem I would actually run into that would require the higher level of power than excel, but it’s good to know where to look if one comes up.

  4. AI is getting so impressive these days. The computer you interviewed in this episode might even pass the Turing test, because it sounded almost human. 😉
    Joking aside, I thought Patrick was an excellent guest and I find it fascinating that his productivity apparently stems from treating his brain and body like a computer that has a restricted number of “cycles” available. I’d like to hear more interviews with self-described introverts that are somehow crushing in their chosen field(s), but I suppose most of the geeky/autistic types don’t have much desire for publicity. Great episode!

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