Poker and study seem far apart at first glance. On the internet there are regular stories of young people who quit their education to chase the big money in the casino. However, this dividing line is starting to replace. More and more institutions are recognizing that poker requires specific skills that can be learned. Game theory, probability calculation and psychology are some examples of this. Playing poker can therefore contribute to the personal development of the student. In this way he or she not only has a better chance at the poker table, but also in the business world.
Playing poker: strategy and risk management
More and more colleges and universities are offering courses that help improve your poker game. Especially in the United States the added value of playing poker is recognized. For example at MIT, where students have the opportunity to follow an adapted “Poker Theory & Analytics” minor in their free space (Independent Activities Period). Eleven classes are held, with students playing over 5000 poker hands in an online program. During this lecture, students learn strategic thinking and various game tactics. More importantly, the tactics are linked to risk management. In this way, players learn when it is profitable to use a certain skill. Poker, according to the professor, is comparable to trading on the stock market. A player makes better decisions through insight into the risks. That insight also leads to more self-discipline.
Probability calculation and the usefulness of expected value
Poker 101 at the University of Ottowa also works in a similar way. Here, during the lecture, the important principle of ‘expected value’ is discussed. This is used in the poker world to determine how a hand should be played. It is based on probability: in what percentage of cases is my decision lucrative? If you make a profit with the call in the long run, that was a good decision. It doesn’t matter if you lose the specific hand. The principle of expected value can also be applied in daily life, for example when purchasing a smartphone or taking out a mortgage. You learn to weigh up which variables play a role in your decision, in order to make the most profitable choice. “Expected value” is therefore not a concept of the poker table, but contributes to every decision you make.
Recognizing a bluff
In addition to risk management and expected value, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is also important in the game of poker. Students are trained in the psychology behind the decisions they and their opponents make. This makes them better able to see through the game of the opponent. They can do that, for example, by discovering the competitor’s self-image. That self-image always affects the way the player plays their hand. A player who is unhappy with his game will throw away his hand more quickly than a player who thinks he can bluff the River. Psychology can also help control yourself, for example by staying calm after a “bad beat”, or by avoiding throwing away chips when the cards are favorable to you. It is possible that more schools will delve into the underlying concepts of poker.