Introductions and Intentions

(This is the first post of this blog, written 01/09/2011, original link here)

I'm a student of Mathematics, Statistics, and Economics and am currently working on my PhD in Applied Probability.  For the past six years of my life, I've played poker part-time alongside my full-time studies.  I became involved in poker because I found it to be an excellent and compelling competitive game with immense strategic depth.  I reject the notion that I am a "gambler" in any relevant sense.

As my actual PhD research has become more narrow, focused, and slow-moving, I've found my mind wandering more and more to possible applications of my knowledge and experience to problems that I find more interesting and fun.  Unsurprisingly, most of these ideas are related to poker.

Sweating the details of the failed recent and potentially forthcoming (at least temporary) annihilations of online poker in NJ or the US have also jarred me into no longer taking the great game of poker and my freedoms to compete in it online for granted.  Though online poker is unlikely to become completely dead anytime soon, if it ever did, I'd like to be able to look back on more than just a graph from years of mediocre grinding.  I've got some ideas floating around in my head, they might be good, and I want to get them out there.

So I want to start actively contributing to the poker community, and I've been looking for new outlets to keep my writing skills sharp.  While I've entertained the idea of someday writing a poker book, I don't think I could offer anything new strategically right now.  The ideas that I do feel like writing about are too varied and would lack mainstream appeal.  However, these ideas should be perfect for someday becoming a few dozen potential articles, so blogging seems like the way to go for now.  I'll be putting some rough sketches of my ideas out there, and we'll see where they develop.

I'm not totally sure precisely what the scope of this blog will be, just sure that I want to get started.  It won't all be quantitative, and it probably won't all be poker.

Topics I am planning to discuss on this blog:
  • quantifying poker and macropoker situations that perhaps are not always quantified
  • game theory and applications
  • economic approaches to game structures and rules and their role in the poker ecosystem
  • quantitative risk management models accounting for mean-variance tradeoffs in personal utility and tax considerations, beyond simple bankroll rules of thumb
  • my take on legislative, legal, and political developments in poker
  • scientific and logical approaches to the philosophical and legal questions of whether poker "is gambling" or "is mostly luck"

Topics I might discuss:
  • psychology and behavioral economics as they relate to poker
  • poker news (beyond legal developments)
  • book reviews
  • poker tax issues
  • non-poker life situations where poker thinking or the lessons of poker are valuable

Topics I am not planning on discussing:
  • personal details of my own poker career
  • specific game strategy or hand histories
  • minutia from my life

So if this sounds interesting, stay tuned.  If you like poker and aren't completely allergic to mathematical thinking, there should be plenty here for you to think about (or at least disagree with), and I'll try to keep it entertaining when I can.
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