The Telegraph ran an article examining the psychological implications of the gambling habits of the presidential candidates.
Poker pro Andy Bloch explains why he prefers the poker-playing Obama:
"There are a lot of skills playing poker that would help the chief executive.
"In poker you have to put yourself in the shoes of your opponents, get inside their heads and figure out what they're thinking; what their actions mean; what they would think your actions mean; and reading people's bluffs.
"One thing that got us into the Iraq War was that George Bush didn't realise that Saddam Hussein was basically bluffing, trying to look like a big man, when he really had no weapons of mass destruction."
Another player, Anthony Holder, takes the analysis a bit deeper:
He told The Sunday Telegraph: "Eisenhower was a good player who did not like winning money from fellow officers, let alone other ranks, and he was a nice guy. Nixon had no such scruples at all and funded his first political campaign from his wartime winnings. He turned out to be just as unprincipled in power.
"Barack Obama, like Lyndon Johnson, used poker to make political connections. He seems not to be much of a bluffer. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a giant bluff by JFK, which was not called by Khruschev. I don't think we'll get those kind of geopolitical gambles from Obama."
Both of the gamblers worry about McCain's "craps habit."
"You're always at a disadvantage at craps," said Mr Bloch. "It's a problem, if you have a leader who believes they can beat the odds. You don't want him shooting dice with the economy." Mr Holden added: "We poker players don't call poker gambling. It is a game of skill. Craps is an absurd game of luck. You may have thrilling short term wins but only madmen play craps."
Aside from the madman comment, which is way over the top, these are interesting hypotheses. Still, they're based on very little data. Data points supply the bases for generating our hypotheses, but to speak with reasonable assurance that we're describing stable aspects of personality, we need a clear convergence of accumulated data.
News, opinion and gossip are not very good bases for developing the broad and balanced data sets we need to make valid assessments. True, we can develop hypotheses that may have merit, but there is very limited opportunity to dig deeper and test our hypotheses. I can't ask the candidates about their gambling; I can't conduct a broader assessment of behavior and personality following up on my own hunches and hypotheses; I can't administer tests that will sample relevant dimensions of behavior and I don't have the luxury of forming a relationship that allows intimate observation and the unfolding of character over time.
Instead, much of the data we rely upon to judge the character of politicians is selected and filtered through the highly charged lens of partisan politics. Conventional wisdom says that the heat of the campaign reveals character, but this a gross oversimplification of matters. Political campaigns both reveal and conceal aspects of character. Moreover, it is easy to make erroneous predictions of future behavior even when we do have interesting data at hand. What if American voters in 1860 knew that Lincoln had, at one time, sunken into a suicidal depression? Yes, Lincoln suffered depression again while in office, but how many of us, in retrospect, lament his 1860 victory?
Over the course of years, watching a sitting politician outside the context of the campaign, we have a better chance to get a sense of character. For this reason, we know a little more about McCain than we do about Obama. That isn't intended to elevate or disparage either candidacy, it is simply where things stand.