Foreigners love to visit the beautiful country of Thailand for its temples and beaches. Many of them also visit to experience the interesting gambling options they can find in the Land of Smiles. Thailand has upheld strict gambling laws but this does not stop its citizens from travelling to the nearby borders of Cambodia to gamble.
When it comes to poker, Asians are slowly dominating the industry. For several years, big names from Asia such as John Juanda, Elton Tsang, Paul Phua, Richard Yong, and Kitty Kuo have made their presence known to the world. Poker, to most, is more than just a game of luck. It is, in fact, a game of skill.
Phil Hellmuth Jr may be a popular gambler for having a record of 11 World Series of Poker championship bracelets to his name. Hellmuth Jr has won the World Series Main Event in 1989 where he won $6 million. Unfortunately, Hellmuth’s success on the table is slowly waning. He is not as successful on the table as before. Whilst he is still a commanding presence on the table, many now believe that he can also fail and lose just like anybody else. What made Hellmuth lose so much on the felt? Hellmuth blames the new breed of poker players – math wizards.
Math wizards use tons of data they get from millions of hands they play online to stay on top of the game. They use and sort this information to carefully study poker hands then use this to beat their opponents, even the professionals who have successfully mastered the game. Hellmuth attributes his poker success in his ability to study his opponents but the new breed of poker players use math whilst playing the game which ultimately changes the landscape of poker that old time poker players are used to.
Poker gets a lot of screen time thanks to advertisements and a hoard of well-known players. The game, however, is getting a major face lift as the game becomes more technical. Before this, players win through intuitive strategies but now math wizards like Barry Greenstein and Chris Ferguson started using probability theories to their advantage when playing poker.
Probability and Poker
When you talk about probability theories in gambling, the idea does not stem out from poker. In fact, it has been discussed way before poker was even created. Probability theory started in the late 1400s when gamblers play high stakes and wanted to know their chances of winning. The first written text on probability was released by Fra Luca Paccioli in 1494 entitled Summa de arithmetica, geometrica, proportioni e proportionalita. Inspired by Paccioli’s work, Girolamo Cardano proceeded to develop probability theory further. In his work titled Liber de Ludo Aleae, Cardano discussed probability concepts and how they directly relate to gambling. Blaise Pascal also greatly expounded on probability theory from which his friend Chevalier de Mere caused him to confer with Pierre de Fermat leading to the development of the basic probability theory.
Today, there are hundreds of probability theories applied in poker. A standard poker game allows each player to get five cards. When they place a bet, they hope that their cards are much better than their opponents. A typical game is played using a 52-card deck of cards with four different suits. It has 13 clubs, 13 diamonds, 13 hearts, and 13 spades. The number of possible poker hands can be extracted by counting the number of possible ways the five cards from the 52 cards on the deck.
Artificial Intelligence and Poker
It is now a common knowledge that even professional poker players get their asses beat off by artificial intelligence. This shows that mathematics really plays a huge factor when playing poker. In the past, two artificial intelligence (AI) programs have successfully managed to beat human professional poker players in Texas Hold’em clearly showing that adjusting algorithms and deep machine learning can ultimately lead to success.
For several years, AI programs have successfully dominated mind games such as chess, but they were not really triumphant in creating a program that can beat human poker players until recently. These AI programs can easily beat chess because it is an information game, which allows its players, both human and the AI to know what the other party is working on. This is not the case in Texas Hold’em because, in this version of poker, players get random face-down cards. This is crucial in designing an AI program because it must have a deeper understanding of the human brain to be able to deduce information from the dealt cards. The randomness of the game, AI programs often have difficulty in extracting this information through intuition.
Human intuition and a deeper understanding of probability theories of poker give math wizards the greatest advantage when playing poker allowing them to win big.
The Rise of Online Poker
How can these math wizards compute for the probability without investing much time and effort? Thanks to the widespread availability of online poker, math wizards can hone their skills on the felt. Math wizards dominate poker by ignoring the cards they have on their hands. They focus more on the patterns they commonly see whilst they play online poker. These math nerds have successfully figured out how to use online data and apply it during live play. It is no longer surprising that they consider live tournaments as one of their online tables. This is something that live poker enthusiasts are not ready for.
These online poker enthusiasts are indeed the new breed of poker players. They are aggressive and determined. A number of them spend hours a day to play in as much as 35 to 40 online tournaments in one night. As soon as online players become present on the table, traditional live poker players are left stunned. These online poker players are causing the tide to shift in their favour. Well-known professional poker players have spent years in drought, not winning a single bracelet in years simply because they are having a tough time coping up with the math wizards in playing poker.
Online poker is growing at an unprecedented rate. As much as 75 million individuals from all over the world play online poker for real money. In the last decade, the global online poker market has skyrocketing revenue, making it an ideal and lucrative avenue for math wizards to explore.
Math Wizards and Poker
To summarize, poker, as everybody knows, is a game of luck and skill. It is a game of mathematics that allows players to calculate for the risk and the odds at which you can win. Either way, it is important for poker players to remember the basic rules of the game in order to win the game.
If you are playing poker leisurely, it can be a good brain practice to use these poker probabilities but don’t let it take away the fun in the game.