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Poker Strategies: Game Theory

The news article “Poker Science: Math, Game Theory Can Help A Gambler’s Strategy” as linked through the Huffington Post comments on the theories behind playing poker. At current day there exists large disputes over whether using numbers and game theory is prosecutable as an illegal gambling practice under law. How does math fall under this realm of gambling? Within the game of Texas Hold ‘Em the combination of the seven cards used create about 133 million combinations. It was found analyzing players that those with skills had a “statistically significant effect on the amount of money won or lost”.  Even further than that, they dive into the mathematics that may go through players’ head. When one sees a hand a skilled player goes through a myriad of numbers of different scenarios. What is most interesting how many players, such as Chris Ferguson, a professional poker player, speaks of using “game theory” to get an edge.

It is from this point on the article goes in depth of how game theory runs through a players head in the heat of the moment. Within a certain spectrum it aligns well with what we learned in class of the player analyzing thoroughly what he has at hand and what are the possible outcomes in different scenarios. Again within poker there exists some sort of end game where one can either lose while the other gains, and even at times when neither benefits nor loses anything. But at every moment these players weigh the pros and cons while trying to determine what the other players’ move may be and playing to that. What I find interesting beyond what we have learned in the course is that these players have to deal with a myriad of more factors. For example, within a given game there is more than one other player but a whole table of players trying to win. But even more fascinating to me is how there exists more than a single use of game theory within a single play of hands in poker. For in poker there are different steps of which one can either fold or continue. This means that part of this game theory is taking into account how many people will stay in further at each step and trying to use your knowledge to balance that. An additional factor that is very hard to take into account in game theory within poker is the human variables. While mathematically it may make sense within game theory to make a certain play, human variation in play can change that. There may be specific playing habits of players who bluff or may not even understand the game which skews the outcomes.

-ajl262

Source:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/27/poker-science-math-gambling_n_1833404.html

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