Boeree Takes the Scientific Approach to Poker3 years ago
In my other life as a player and writer I am used to the game of chess being used as an analogy for all kinds of things. Two boxers cagily weighing each other up? It’s a game of chess in the ring! Two soccer teams unable to break the deadlock? It’s a stalemate! Former world champion Gary Kasparov even wrote a book entitled ‘How Life Imitates Chess’!
So it’s no wonder that my other love of strategic play – the world of poker – has something similar going on, with this week seeing Liv Boeree drawing parallels between poker and HER other love – science. Now comparing poker or chess to other games is one thing? But to physics? Or life? Well let’s see just how she managed to bring them together.
In a video piece for Business Insider entitled ‘3 Reasons why Poker is just like Science’ the astrophysics graduate-turned-poker pro listed her top analogies between the two subjects, starting with...
"In poker you have to experiment with different strategies,” she begins, continuing, “you actually have to come up with creative ways of achieving your goals – in this case winning the most chips from your opponent.”
She considers post-game analysis and says:
"You’ve got to look at your results, look at your strategies – figure out which ones were working. Figure out why those are working, and then implement those again and feedback again. Same in science.”
The 32-year old may be better known nowadays as a poker pro, but she graduated with a 1st class honors degree in Physics with Astrophysics from the University of Manchester in England before turning to modelling, TV presenting and playing.
Next up in the short segment is…
Boeree points out that questions always needed to be asked whether it’s in the laboratories or the green felt.
"You’ve noticed something happening, well WHY is that happening? Is this person breathing really heavily – is it because they’ve got a really strong hand? Or is it because they’ve got a really weak hand? Or is it because they’ve just drunk too much coffee? You’ve got to figure out some of these different variables.”
As someone who takes liberties with the free coffee on offer at my local casino I really need to find a way to use this one to my advantage! Up next for the top-ranked female player, a woman who has over $3million to her name in tournament winnings, is…
"Well I’ve seen this star is doing this,” she says delving into her astrophysics background for analogies. “How confident am I in why that’s happening?” she asks, adding, “Same in poker – how confident am I that my opponent has gone all-in and is bluffing? I’m about to risk all of my chips on this one thing – I’ve got to assess my confidence levels.”
Boeree’s own poker confidence levels were on display in this summer’s WSOP Main Event - a tournament where the big stars usually struggle to shine – although she cashed for over $20,000, followed a week later with an 8th spot finish in the Bellagio Cup for $65k more.
“There’s a TON of crossover between science and poker,” Boeree concludes in her little science and poker lesson and I couldn’t agree more. So it’s no longer a ‘game of chess out there’ – it’s now a ‘game of poker’ on and off the felt!
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