Why Physicists Clean Up at Poker

To start, they understand numbers
By Emily Rauhala,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2010 7:30 PM CDT
Why Physicists Clean Up at Poker
A dealer pauses while waiting on a player during the first round on opening day of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas on Monday, July 5, 2010.   (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

(Newser) – What's the not-so-simple secret of playing poker? Quantum physics, finds NPR. It turns out that several top players are physicists—and that's no fluke. Physicists understand probability, statistics, and modeling. "I mean—when you think about it—they build models of the world," says Jennifer Ouellette, author of a Discover piece on the subject. Her husband is a poker-playing physicist and he, and several others, have found it's a winning combination.

To wit: Physicist Michael Binger placed third in the 2006 World Series of Poker, taking home $4 million; Liv Boeree won a cool $1.6 million last spring at a tournament in Italy (a fellow physicist placed fourth). When Ouellette's husband plays, he tries to build a model based on his opponents' betting patterns and tells, which he uses to predict their moves. Another poker-playing physicist points to his peers' ability to steel their emotions. "In physics, you have to be able to sit down and work on a long complicated calculation that may often take you weeks or even a month..." and could end up being totally wrong. "Being able to deal with extended periods of bad luck or things not going well is something that's required to be a physicist." (Read more poker stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.