Massachusetts Institute of Poker? In the ever-expanding online education market, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has made available lectures from a course on poker strategy free online.
The 11 graduate-level video lectures can be watched through MIT’s OpenCourseWare program, which offers a variety of free courses. Also included are a syllabus, assignments, and PDFs of class notes. Though the course includes such unique activities as analyzing the best arrangement of seating for players, its purpose is to teach analytical thinking and theories applicable to business.
Kevin Desmond, the instructor and a graduate student in the Finance department, explained poker’s parallels to the real world:
The class gave students the opportunity to be risk takers in a global market, which I think is difficult to replicate in any other way. Poker is a game with virtually no barriers to entry. You can be playing anybody in the world. To risk your own money and effectively play against the world is something very similar to what a trader has to do in making decisions.
I think one thing that caught people by surprise is they didn’t see how far the rabbit hole went down in terms of analysis in poker.
Desmond teaches students to play “tight aggressive,” writes Alix Jean-Pharuns of Motherboard, a strategy meaning they bet and raise often rather than just calling others’ bets and stick to a defined set of strategies.
Guest lecturers include Joel Fried, Aaron Brown, Bill Chen, and Matt Hawrilenko — the last two of whom are World Series of Poker bracelet winners, writes Brian Pempus of Card Player.
The course, “Poker Theory and Analytics,” was taught over the winter semester under the Sloan School of Management. Students played about 5,000 hands over the course of the semester on PokerStars.net, equal to about a year of real-life experience. Winning students were given non-cash prizes, writes Millie Dent of the Fiscal Times, like an iPad Air and signed poker books. The prizes for the final tournament totaled more than $3,500.
MIT has produced a host of talented poker players and gamblers. The bestselling book, Bringing Down the House, chronicles the success of the MIT Blackjack team in the 1990s, writes Ed Scimia of Cards Chat News, and the movie 21 features the team as well.
OpenCourseWare (OCW) offers more than 2,200 other courses and has been accessed by 175 million people.