Oct 23

Science magazine Discover has published a nice article on poker called Big Game Theory. While the piece, written by Jennifer Ouellette, is aimed at people who are not familiar with the game, it does contain some enlightening parts for experienced players too.

“What are so many physicists doing playing poker for hours on end?” Ouellette asks; and to start finding the answers, she doesn’t have to look further than her husband, Caltech cosmologist and “poker fiend” Sean Carroll. But perhaps the best poker playing physicist right now is Michael Binger: WSOP Main Event 3rd place in 2006, $6.5 million in tournament cashes, and a physics Ph.D. at the Stanford University.

Another one combining poker success and a career in physics is WSOP winner Marcel Vonk, who sums it up pretty nicely in two quotes, “Both physics and poker attract people who like to solve multifaceted problems,” and, “The skills required are similar: mathematical abilities, the ability to spot patterns and predict things from them, the patience to sit down for a long time until you finally achieve your goal, and the ability to say, ‘Oh well’, and start over when such an attempt fails miserably.”

We believe that many players, physicists or not, may find that quote very useful…

It’s also interesting to note that the pioneer of game theory, mathematician John von Neumann was fascinated by poker and namely the art of the bluff, saying, “Real life consists of bluffing, of little tactics of deception, of asking yourself what is the other man going to think I mean to do.”

Read the whole thing on Discover Magazine.

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