View Full Version : Poker Players - The rich man's statisticians? Career Change

12-26-2003, 06:13 PM
Hi all,

I PM'd Mason on this, but since I got no response I thought I'd put this on this forum. I am a CPA and am inspired by Moneymaker's victory that I have taken a very serious approach to learning poker with the lofty goal of "mastering" the game.

I believe in the theory that luck favors the prepared mind. To that end, I'm wondering how many of you are statisticians and have seriously applied your training to the art of poker. Further, does anybody know if an advanced degree progam exists for aspiring "gamblers" like myself. My library already includes TOP, HEFAP, WLLHE, and Sklansky's original seminal work. I also have Mason's gambling theory on my list along with Super/System. What I really want to do is to study and master the application of mathematics, statistics and probabilty as they relate to the game. If I can get a degree in it, all the better.

Anybody with suggestions?

See you at the tables.


12-27-2003, 06:13 PM

Since no one has responded I can only conclude one of three (if not all) of the following:

1 - Nobody responded because what I'm asking doesn't exist and since no one knows, no one can offer advice.

2 - This is privledged information that is a matter of national security and that I would have to be disposed of should I acquire this information.

3 - This is quite possibly the lamest post ever and that I should be bannished to "Pokah" forever for writing this innane dribble.

Your responses appreciated.


Wake up CALL
12-27-2003, 09:03 PM
3 - This is quite possibly the lamest post ever and that I should be bannished to "Pokah" forever for writing this innane dribble.

12-27-2003, 09:21 PM
Thanks for your brutal honesty /images/graemlins/wink.gif

Wake up CALL
12-27-2003, 09:37 PM
I can appreciate a man of his word, you did say you would appreciate my response! /images/graemlins/smile.gif Upon further reflection it is not the lamest post ever.

12-28-2003, 06:18 AM
...the word OVERKILL comes to mind...

Balancing books does not make one a poker player and I would bet the farm Chris doesn't make final table in 2004, let alone repeat.

Feel free to name 54o after him though, I call it the moneymaker all the time, but still fold it, mostly. /images/graemlins/wink.gif

There are poker schools online, but mostly it's school of hard knocks plus some study and long hours at the tables, and frankly some people will never be very good no matter what, pretty much every occupation needs those folks for others to shine. LOL!

Good luck. 8)

I have 2 degrees and I will never take another college class EVER.


12-28-2003, 04:31 PM
Do you think Chris Moneymaker is a world class player? From
what I have seen in his WSOP appearance, it is quite clear
that he is not even in the same class as Phil Ivey and
Johnny Chan. It wouldn't surprise me if he never makes
another final table appearance in the next decade!

12-28-2003, 05:39 PM
You have my sympathies. Once the mysteries of poker reveal themselves, it becomes a very, very boring game, and a hard way to make an easy living, as they say. I would recommend a book to add to your library that isn't a poker book: "What Should I Do With My Life?", by Po Bronson.

As far as the poker goes, the person you should be talking to is bigpooch. In a B&M game, he's a HUGE FISH because he so completely and totally doesn't get that he lacks the skills needed to flourish in that arena, and his play isn't quite good enough to make up for the deficit. (Just kidding there, for the most part.)

In the online world, on the other hand, it is a completely different story. I doubt that there are many players who are better than he is at the particular games he specializes in, and the skills he lacks are 100% meaningless in online games.

As an aside, pooch, if you're reading (and I know you are), there was a post a few months back dissing Sklansky for something he did in the WSOP. He built up a big stack fairly early -- 80,000 in chips or so, then never played another hand, and let himself be anted down until he was out, collecting some $30,000 to $40,000 in prize money in the process. The exact details of that might be wrong, but the idea is enough to set up the basis for this question: would you do the same thing?


12-28-2003, 07:59 PM
Hey trillig,

Thanks for the feedback. I would bet that there are about 1000 other people, previous winners and dead money players alike that won't make the final table either. I'm not sure what your point is. Give the guy his props, he did win a satellite to get there and then won the thing against the World's best players for God's sake.

Now in regard to your comment about balancing books shows your ignorance about the role and skills of a CPA. In fact, you might even be surprised that many CPA's don't even do taxes. /images/graemlins/shocked.gif Much of our education and training is mathematical and statistically based, and I have read somewhere that both are useful skills to have at the poker table. Additionlly, we are known to occasionally negotiate contracts worth $millions.

My question, although probably poorly put, is that if one were inclined to undergo a directed, disciplined study beyond the writings of 2+2 and others, what would the curriculum look like and are there Universities which offer such a curriculum with gaming in mind. I put it here since it would appear that many statisticians and mathemeticians who have become world class poker players might be able to provide some insight as to how their education and training helped them in understanding the game. /images/graemlins/confused.gif

12-28-2003, 08:07 PM
He may not have picked up a hand; he may not have had an
opportunity to steal the blinds and he may not have had a
chance to steal a pot. Sometimes the game is pretty boring
if you seldom step out of line! The only way anyone would
know is if they saw all of his hole cards during the play,
and only David would know. Also, once his stack size gets
quite small, if he never picks up a hand, he is correct in
letting his chips dwindle to nothing; something I think many
players don't even know about!

I think I would do the same thing if I never picked up a
hand, there were no short stacks to pick on or there were
no pots up for grabs. Also, many players don't even have a
clue how to play: they often play much too loose and then in
some spots they play much too tight. In games that are
played locally, players play ridiculously so badly, tight
aggressive play is even more amply rewarded! I wasn't at
the table to witness Sklansky's play at the table, but I'll
bet that he made what he thought was the best EV decision
almost every time taking into account the players involved.

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that I don't look for tells
all the time in B&M and I don't smooth talk the really big
fish so they are willing to play heads up with me. Maybe
I should take the same approach as a friend of mine "The
Kid" who quite easilty puts half the table on tilt with his
mannerisms and wonderful comments. That's not the kind of
person I am but I believe it is the most profitable approach
currently with all those fish swimming at the tables! But
I seem to remember the Kid did take a punch in one of the
back rooms.....hmmmm!

On the other hand, the very best players can get inside a
player's head and not only read their hands but their
thoughts (a simple example is Helmuth's last article in
Card Player). The best players simply excel in the areas of
psychology and card reading. If anyone has played with some
opponents for any length of time, you know exactly what I
mean! That's really poker, knowing your opponents and
getting to know how they think (which is at times so
ridiculous I won't even go into details!). Also, even some
of the more successful players aren't going to share their
thoughts to even let you in on any secrets of their success.
You seem to get that sort of impression from the Ciaffone
books, don't you?

Online, it is still quite easy (for some of the better
players) to read the exact hands of some of the players!
You can even ask some of my friends how ridiculously easy it
is in a game like holdem what a player could have in his
hand. There are only two cards to read; even in draw poker,
the range of hands can't be that wide in some situations and
it's quite easy to decipher what opponents are doing. Where
the real money is: PL and NL (and tournaments) where some
players can't think up to a certain level. Sure, many of
them can read hands and situations but not many can think
about what an opponent's thoughts are about what you are
thinking! For those that reach that level of thinking, it
will be more than adequate against any opposition and then
playing poker isn't even a fair gamble!

The unfortunate temptation with online play is that the
better players will just play a lot of tables with so many
fish to carve up! Most of the better players will play at
least three tables and that is not to say that they will
triple their hourly rate as compared to one table, but even
2x or 2.5x is very good! A few days ago, being the sicko
I am (as one friend put it!), I took a shot at seven tables
(including two five-handed and one four handed game) and
although it's not impossible, it is very demanding and I am
quite sure that less than 1% of the online players could do
this successfully for more than 15 minutes (about the amount
of time I tried it!). This is a little harder than making
the top 20 on any Lucy Jones bonus on Partypoker! By the
way, when I was making the top 20 there, I hate to admit it,
but I was merely playing my normal number of tables: five.

We were fortunate to have picked up a game like chess where
some analytical abilities were rewarded, but obviously, they
are not as handsomely as rewarded as in a game like poker!
It seems also quite clear with the economy and markets
turning around and the WPT and a $40 to seven figure parlay,
this year (2003) will be a watershed year for the big growth
of poker online and worldwide. Sure, poker isn't nearly as
interesting as chess or backgammon, but there's a lot of
money out there for the better players to take.

But I will consider a change in handle names to BIG FISH or
maybe BIG FISH 'N LOTSA CHIPS (maybe too long for some of
these sites?). I like to think that bigpooch = big pile of
others' chips! How does the fish part fit in? :-)

12-28-2003, 08:14 PM
Do you think Chris Moneymaker is a world class player? From
what I have seen in his WSOP appearance, it is quite clear
that he is not even in the same class as Phil Ivey and
Johnny Chan. It wouldn't surprise me if he never makes
another final table appearance in the next decade!

[/ QUOTE ]

Hey Pooch,

Thanks for your feedback. /images/graemlins/smile.gif Again, whether or not Moneymaker is to be considered a WC player is irrelevant. What is relevant is that here's a guy who managed to win the thing who is in the same profession as myself. I too have a passion for the game and want to study it beyond reading and regurgitating the same books everybody else is. /images/graemlins/wink.gif

I'm just hoping that Sklansly or Malmuth or anybody else with their background could elucidate the building blocks upon which they built their thoeries so that I can treat with a similar approach.

12-28-2003, 08:24 PM
If you have to start anywhere, you should read TOP by David
Sklansky. It's not going to help you in any specific game
as much as other books, but it will help you pick up the
ideas of how to play just about any limit game. Now, if you
have any talent or aptitude in the areas of card reading or
psychology, you should be able to make that 1.0 to 2.0 BBs
per hour per table that you play online. Also, I don't know
how persistent you will be in such an endeavor, but if you
start to dislike it without any clearcut positive results,
my recommendation is to just play recreationally and forget
about taking the game that seriously.

12-28-2003, 09:03 PM
Thanks again Pooch,

actually, I have been reading TOP along with the Tourny poker. I've been playing online for about five months or so and have been profitable. I've heard the 1 to 2 BB per hour theory and it sounds reasonable.

The most expensive table I've played is 2/4 at Party and have beat that game on occassion, but not consistently. The problem, I believe is less about the competition, but more about my discipline and early hand reading. The game is definately beatable.

Where I really want to improve my game is in tournament play in both limit and no limit.

Poker blog
12-29-2003, 01:36 AM
What you don't seem to understand is that statistics is not a huge part of poker. Nearly anyone can master that part of the game. It's the other parts of the game that are difficult.

12-29-2003, 02:44 AM
Why don't you think I don't understand that? Probability, statistics and game theory are tools re: decision making which is part of the discipline. Betting on -EV is a bad decision, but how do you know if you're -EV unless you've truely mastered the analysis? Many of us have an intrinsic understanding of the concept. I'm just looking for more than that.

12-29-2003, 05:28 AM
I think a simple answer is that you should just try to learn the game like everyone else here does (i.e. read the 2+2 books and play a lot) and you'll find that a good understanding of probability and statistics will make many concepts easier. I don't think you get to take a special path, though (I certainly didn't).

12-29-2003, 06:10 AM
I give the guy his props, I talked to him 2 days after he won it!
You assumed too much and miss read me completely.

I was generalizing on accounting... I lived through 3 classes... >snore<
But, I wouldn't want lots of jobs, my father in-law was a mortician.

Howard Lederer, who is a major math wiz and high stakes poker vet/winner,
has said it's a good foundation, but not to be overly relied on.

I guess you haven't watch WPT...

Have a nice day! /images/graemlins/smile.gif


12-29-2003, 01:10 PM
It doesnt take very long to master the mathmatics of poker. That isnt what makes money.

12-29-2003, 03:19 PM
Mason discovered that having a math background did not make being a winner at poker a piece of cake.

There aren't Universities offering a poker corriculum that I know of. If you want to go beyond self study with books you hire a mentor. I believe Sklansky is available. BTW this is what Mason did many years ago.

12-29-2003, 10:39 PM
Sorry for the bad read /images/graemlins/confused.gif I wouldn't want to be a mortician either.

Didn't see Howard's interview, but am an avid fan of WPT.

I am obviously doing the reading and playing. Just looking for a more directed approach is all. And no, I don't really want a coach although it might be an alternative.

Someone stated earlier about a lack of classes in Poker, and actually, I was looking to study gambling in a more generalized fashion.

It's clear that I need to redefine my approach abit.

Just so you all know, I'm not a complete newbie despite appearances. I've logged about 7000 hands, am using Poker Tracker and am studying a great deal (much to my wife's chagrine /images/graemlins/wink.gif.

Anyway, thanks guys. Perhaps I should just attend Sklansky's seminars and take it from there.

Thanks all for your feedback. Happy New Year.