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Game Theory in Poker

Popular movies such as “21” and even the “The Hangover” have glamorized card counting and using math and game theory as methods to winning money. This New York Times article reports on overruling of a conviction of a man who ran poker games in a warehouse, on the basis that poker was a game of skill.   The man was previously prosecuted under the federal law that prohibits running illegal gambling businesses.  Randal D. Heeb, who is an economist, statistician, and national poker player, testified at the hearing on the level of skill involved in the game.

Game theory specifically is a main driver of the skills required to play poker.  Hundreds of sites such as http://increaseyourpokeriq.com/strategy/importance-of-game-theory-in-poker/ teach readers how to specifically apply game theory to situations in poker.  The Nash equilibrium in particular is important, as the best players need to know how to feed of others’ moves and feelings.   As we’ve learned in class, several strategies of game theory exist.  Many deal with predictions of players’ behavior and enlarging sets of strategies in order to include possibility of randomization.  From a poker player’s point of view, this makes game theory strategy a very realistic approach to improving play; every move made must be based off of others’ moves, but you must be sure to take into account the complete randomness of your opponents.  From this point of view, the judge’s overturning of the previous sentencing of this man is valid.

 

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Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/22/nyregion/poker-is-more-a-game-of-skill-than-of-chance-a-judge-rules.html

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


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