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Geeks Playing Poker?

timothy posted about 10 years ago | from the and-blackjack dept.

Games 431

Ben Collins writes "I recently won a satellite tournament at Full Tilt Poker for entry into the World Poker Tour Final at Foxwoods Casino. I picked up poker as a hobby about 4 months ago, and consider myself a decent player, maybe due to programming experience (analytical thinking). Any other programmers/computer people find that they can play poker better than the average person because of their computer experience?"

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Online vs. Offline (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10615955)

In online play, it can really come down to your abilities to play the odds. Your geek skills are good for this. In offline play, though, tells can be a huge factor, and for some geeks, the social aspect of this may be much harder.

Re:Online vs. Offline (4, Insightful)

kryonD (163018) | about 10 years ago | (#10616057)

Poker, like coding, is a skill that is gained through research and experience. I'm sure most slashdotters have sat down at a table with friends, or hopped online for a little recreational play. And as long as you were sitting around with a bunch of people who have not studied the game, your analytical skills probably did lean the game in your favor. However, Poker is far more than just knowing the odds or keeping a stone solid expression on your face whether you just got a pair of Aces or 7-2o. Before everyone hops onto partypoker with their allowances, you should understand that if someone is sitting at the table who also knows how to play on button position and player identification (i.e. calling stations, recreational gambler, etc..), they could get dealt 7-2o all night long and still walk away with all of your money.

Then again, what am I saying!! Everyone hop onto partypoker with all your money and find kryond at the NL single table touneys. I suck really bad...honest, I do!

Re:Online vs. Offline (2, Interesting)

Xenographic (557057) | about 10 years ago | (#10616211)

Online, it can come down to whether the other people at the table are in collusion with one another...

And no, I don't think cryptograph can fix that problem, because out of band communications (phone, IM, etc.) will always be available so long as the players cannot be monitored.

Not to mention the issue of whether or not you can trust the casino. I'm not saying you can't necessarily, but more that I just wouldn't unless we were all there together, in person.

no (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10615956)


bad luck (-1, Troll)

prurientknave (820507) | about 10 years ago | (#10615958)

No, I find as a geek my run of luck is far worse than the norm. First post

Just a better programmer (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10615960)

I'm a better programmer because I have the same skills needed to play poker and program.

I doubt one causes the other.

Luck (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10615966)

I prefer luck over skill in poker. Bet high, never fold, and one of those times I'll come out near even, maybe.

Re:Luck can be utterly crushed by good math. (2, Interesting)

EverLurking (595528) | about 10 years ago | (#10616147)

Well, this is about Blackjack not Poker I know, but interesting none the less in that if you have a good mathematically sound system (ie. card counting), you can turn the odds in BlackJack in your favor. Wired had a great article "Hacking Las Vegas" [] awhile back about a team of BlackJack players from MIT that really worked the Casinos over for a goodly amount of time before the Casino's finally caught on. Apparently it was quite an innovative method that was harder to detect as the roles were spread out between several players in a team. DaveC

Indeed (3, Interesting)

odano (735445) | about 10 years ago | (#10615969)

I took up poker a couple years ago before it became popular online, and now I play from time to time online, and I would consider myself a winning player.

The thing with poker is the game isn't all too complicated if we are talking about online play, where sound betting strategy will win you money. Give a logical thinking person a simple poker strategy to play, they will do fine and definetly win some money online.

Online poker is all about logic and patience, and at least the former is found in most computer people, which is why I am guessing they will do much better at the strategic part, which will more or less translate into playing winning poker.

Re:Indeed (4, Interesting)

TopShelf (92521) | about 10 years ago | (#10615998)

Agreed - especially online, winning poker is more about the patience to wait for good opportunities than anything else.

Crazy Fad or New Social Activity (4, Insightful)

nate nice (672391) | about 10 years ago | (#10615970)

I'm not sure if Poker is a fad right now or something that may last. My instinct tells me it is a fad and will die in a year or so. Has it had resurgence before anyone know of?

I will play from time to time, but I find it best in moderation. Anyways, lets start the flame war.

Is poker a fad or is it here to stay, and why?

Re:Crazy Fad or New Social Activity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616084)

Pretty sure that poker has been being played quite a long time. Consider that it was a popular game "out west" in the previous century.

I think it has just recently been reaching more popular media outlets. The "poker night" with the boys has been a thing for a while too...

I would say that it is not a fad, but that it is just has more media view right now. That aspect might dissipate over time, but people will still play, even if nobody is watching them on tv.

Re:Crazy Fad or New Social Activity (1)

farghen (759198) | about 10 years ago | (#10616127)

You must not be a college student. It is most certainly a fad amongst students at my school, and I suspect other universities as well.

Re:Crazy Fad or New Social Activity (1)

AliasTheRoot (171859) | about 10 years ago | (#10616165)

It was a fad when I was at University ten years ago also, would imagine it will be a fad in ten years time too.

We used to play shithead more, it's much more puerile.

Re:Crazy Fad or New Social Activity (1)

Illserve (56215) | about 10 years ago | (#10616134)

What's new is that people can reliably play poker for real money without traveling to a casino.

I think it's been permanently augmented by the internet, in the same way that the auction, dating and communication industry have been.

10 years ago, was your instinct also telling you that email would die in a year or two? :)

Re:Crazy Fad or New Social Activity (1)

JimBean (610952) | about 10 years ago | (#10616146)

I hope it is a short-term fad. I am sick of my roommates waking me up at 3am while they swear at the computer. "What? That's f#$king impossible!" They also rarely leave their room nowadays (except to go the casino). I am sure they make some money, but they have invested a lot of time in their newfound "hobby." Ah, a new generation of hardcore gamblers.

Re:Crazy Fad or New Social Activity (1)

Illserve (56215) | about 10 years ago | (#10616171)

Don't worry, now that gambling has gotten that much easier, addictive gamblers will breed themselves out of existence within 1 generation.

Re:Crazy Fad or New Social Activity (-1, Flamebait)

michaeltoe (651785) | about 10 years ago | (#10616169)

It's a stupid fad, and it irritates me.

Re:Crazy Fad or New Social Activity (1, Insightful)

RevAaron (125240) | about 10 years ago | (#10616246)

Does it irritate you because you don't like to play poker, or because you were playing it before it was "cool?"

Re:Crazy Fad or New Social Activity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616193)

It is a fad. It will never last into the 20th century.

-Wild Bill

Re:Crazy Fad or New Social Activity (1)

MagicDude (727944) | about 10 years ago | (#10616194)

Poker, the pet rock of sports entertainment. That's how the PTI guys described it when thier show got prempted from their regular time slot for some world series of poker show (Is it just me, or does poker have a world series every week?). But for what it's worth, poker does have about the same amount of excitement as any other sporting event. It's a whole lotta nothing followed by 20 seconds of excitement. Think about it, for every home run or 40 yard touchdown pass, you have about 50 foul balls and 2 yard rushing gains.

Teh Gates! (4, Interesting)

sh1ftay (822471) | about 10 years ago | (#10615972)

Don't forget Bill Gates was a notorious poker player in college, writing thousand dollar checks at the end of the night usually.

Re:Teh Gates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616001)

You misunderstand the question if you answer this thinking Gates==programmer. Programmers don't go to Harvard, they go to MIT.

Re:Teh Gates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616124)

One could say the same of girls. Girls don't go to MIT. They go to Harvard. ... Dumbass

Re:Teh Gates! (3, Funny)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 10 years ago | (#10616031)

How else was he supposed to pay for sex?


Re:Teh Gates! (1)

Lispy (136512) | about 10 years ago | (#10616059)

Greed has been his driving force ever since.

Re:Teh Gates! (1)

Fiddy Cent (823482) | about 10 years ago | (#10616209)

Well, if you have a super-rich daddy like Bill had, thousand dollar checks isn't that special.

Re:Teh Gates! (1)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | about 10 years ago | (#10616245)

Notorious? Thats the best kind of player to have at the table :)

I had a friend like that join a game once. By the end of the night he'd lost about $40 (we mostly bought in for $5 or $10 at a time), and most of the other people were in positive territory.

Sure (3, Insightful)

cloudkj (685320) | about 10 years ago | (#10615974)

I think many people with a background in an engineering/technical discipline is, in general, more mathematically inclined than the average person. Thus, since so much of poker is statistics, probabilities, odds, and what not, I think many computer people already have an edge. But just having that quantitative mindset doesn't make you an instant poker superstar, since many other factors play into it. A lot of it also has to do with intuition, confidence, and of course, luck.

Re:Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616252)

and of course, luck.

I thought luck wasn't really a factor if viewing poker over the long term? I swear I read somewhere about people playing professionally who could break their income down to an hourly rate because it always averaged out that way when looking at it weekly or monthly.

Definitely. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10615975)

Coding also improved my sexual prowess.

yuo too? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616018)

it made my cock Teh HUGE!!!! IT'S MASSIVE. I mean really really big. I like it alot. I call him Barney and pet him on his head.

Poker Bloke (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10615976)

Of course you play better than the average person. You're better than all of us. Would you like to sit and put a few dollars down?

Re:Poker Bloke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616078)

I thought the same, EXACT thing. What a waste of brain-space.

Nope (3, Insightful)

Pheonix5000 (661842) | about 10 years ago | (#10615983)

I've been dealing with computers for a long time and it hasn't helped me one bit at poker. Sure, maybe you can do the math a bit better but that only helps for online games. IRL, strategies are much different as you're playing with people and have to read the player. And besides, how many geeks have had any real experience with people (and no Virtual Girl doesn't count!)

I have (1)

JNighthawk (769575) | about 10 years ago | (#10616111)

I played Hold 'Em and other poker variants with my friends for about a year and I ended up fairly even. Changing up your betting styles every now and then and not having any tells is a great way to win. In real life, knowing the odds isn't always helpful. Sometimes you just have to go on gut instinct or that little twitch you saw from the other player as the river was shown... sometimes it works out for ya, sometimes it doesn't.

IMO (2, Insightful)

Soporific (595477) | about 10 years ago | (#10615985)

Being geeky might help with keeping track of cards, but I think the real skill in poker is the ability to read your opponents body language. That skill doesn't sound like it's a skill that most nerds posess, or they'd get laid more.


Re:IMO (1)

tornado2258 (627232) | about 10 years ago | (#10616228)

There is a flaw in your logic that geeks can't read body language because they don't get laid

Maybe they are reading everybodies body language just fine and it is the fact that nobody wants to sleep with them that prevents them gatting laid?

Definately (5, Interesting)

Gantic (460802) | about 10 years ago | (#10615986)

I play a lot of online poker (about 10-12 hours a week) and consider to myself to be a good player, regularly winning $30 tournaments and even have a couple of multi table wins under my belt.

I go out to the Grovesner Casino in Great Yarmouth (England) a few times occasionally and have won the tournaments there simply by playing out the odds, and always starring at my chips, not playing with them at all, and just doing everything like a robot, thus giving away hopefully no tells! Perhaps I would have less success at a major tournament but certainly on a social level those odds calculating and keeping a steady game and not going on a "tilt" can definately make you win.

Its a game for mugs though

Re:Definately (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616126)

that's "definitely"

front page? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10615995)

Why is this front page? As important as this is (obviousily) isn't there better stoties to have?

Not analytical thinking (3, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 10 years ago | (#10616007)

picked up poker as a hobby about 4 months ago, and consider myself a decent player, maybe due to programming experience (analytical thinking)>

Programming has little to do with analysis and a lot to do with gut feelings when you code, and more importantly, when you debug. What I mean is, you "feel" it when the code is right (or whatever solution you're working on is right) and you know long before the end of the project whether it'll be great, so-so or crappy.

Well, same thing for poker: you play by "feeling" the opponents, and your hands, and just "knowing" when the stars are aligned and when you should go. So yes, your programming experience may have something to do with your playing poker well, but not for the reasons you think.

Re:Not analytical thinking (4, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 10 years ago | (#10616033)

you play by "feeling" the opponents, and your hands, and just "knowing" when the stars are aligned and when you should go.

I can't believe I just wrote that...

Re:Not analytical thinking (1)

0racle (667029) | about 10 years ago | (#10616154)

Where exactly do you work?

Re:Not analytical thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616145)

If you have to "feel" your way around code, then you're not doing it right, and probably don't have any real training.

We aren't smarter (5, Insightful)

3770 (560838) | about 10 years ago | (#10616010)


And this isn't a troll.

But I think that programmers tend to think that they are smarter than the average person. People tend to want to be good at what they do. And for a programmer, being intelligent is one of the most important factors for that.

And with the power of wishful thinking they think they are.

And without even realizing it, they ask questions which imply that programmers are smarter than the average person. That bugs me.

Oh, and I'm a programmer myself.

Hypocrite anyone? (1)

angryLNX (679691) | about 10 years ago | (#10616047)

"But I think that programmers tend to think that they are smarter than the average person. [...] That bugs me. [...] There are 10 types of people, those who understand binary numbers and those who don't." ...

Re:Hypocrite anyone? (4, Insightful)

3770 (560838) | about 10 years ago | (#10616075)

Being a nerd and doing "insider" jokes is different from thinking that I'm smarter than everyone else because I'm a programmer.

But I'lll freely admit that I've been guilty of this myself. Assumed that I'm smarter because I'm a programmer, that is. That is why I've spent so much time thinking about it.

And now I see it as a trend with programmers and it is rather obvious when reading slashdot.

A question is asked, which begs for answers which reassuringly imply that programmers are smarter than the average person. It is our communitys little "feel good" ritual.

Re:Hypocrite anyone? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616103)

Can't you just see all the insecurity here? I can, and it ain't coming from me :=)

Re:We aren't smarter (1)

Jason Earl (1894) | about 10 years ago | (#10616172)

Not to mention the fact that all gamblers think that they are "better than average," and are "winning players."

From the way that poker players talk poker games must have an element of spontaneous value creation because I have never even heard of a poker player that classified him or herself as a "loser." Unless money is being created out of the void someone must walk home with empty pockets.

Re:We aren't smarter (1)

gardyloo (512791) | about 10 years ago | (#10616213)

all gamblers think that they are "better than average," and are "winning players."

Er... yeah. Or they think they may train to get better. Otherwise, they wouldn't play. No one wants to lose consistently.

Survival! (4, Interesting)

madgeorge (632496) | about 10 years ago | (#10616012)

I've been playing poker since I was proably 5 or 6 years old. Growing up , when we visited my grandparents' house my dad, my grandfather and my uncle always played poker in another room while my mom helped my grandmother in the kitchen. I bothered them until they let me play, but their condition was that I had to put up my own money. Betting your allowance against a bunch of guys who really would take it and not feel sorry for you makes you think pretty seriously about strategy, odds and winning.

Texas Hold 'em (1) (450073) | about 10 years ago | (#10616013)

I'd practice far more often if there was a *local* Texas Hold 'em client for Linux.
I know of none.

Any suggestions?

(I'm a Winex / Cedega subscriber, if that helps any...)


Re:Texas Hold 'em (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616226)

I believe partypoker [] has a linux client now. I haven't found/tried it myself, but i've been told so, and will be trying it out shortly.

Re:Texas Hold 'em (2, Insightful)

AtomicDog (168155) | about 10 years ago | (#10616259)

There is a Texas Hold'em game that is advertised to work in Linux and is written in Java: []

I've never played it, so I can't vouch for its quality. I've seen it sold at a lot of retail outlets though.

Real Geeks Play Blackjack (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616015)

That's where being a nerd can make you a star.

Re:Real Geeks Play Blackjack (1)

sh1ftay (822471) | about 10 years ago | (#10616244)

True, blackjack may encourage memory and number crunching, and thus is a 'geek' game, but poker is a hackers game. It encourages cunning, creativity, and skill.

Absolutely (1)

datawar (200705) | about 10 years ago | (#10616017)

It's not even just analytical thinking, but meta-analysis of the game. I don't play that often, and would be considered a complete newbie, but I consistantly win against other newbies I'm playing with... I think due to CS training I understand the concepts of strategy in bidding, bluffing, and probability way better than non-math people. These variables are just inherent to the way I think (esp. since I enjoy security too), and combine that with the fact that I have taken courses and read much about non-verbal communication, social/group dynamics, etc. and I would think I have a pretty decent advantage. (I mean, that, and I tend to win ;-)

But please, people, if playing with friends, don't just be an asshole and take the money! If you see other people really didn't get into the game, just refuse to take your share of the total pot... And if in company where that would be awkward, just offer to buy everyone late-night munchies/etc. or buy the next 6-pack, or whatever is most appropriate.

I'm not much into card games, but I think Poker and Asshole are great additions to any late-night weekend chilling! (And Durak rocks too, for those of you Russian enough to know what I'm talking about ;-)

Re:Absolutely (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616255)

"I have taken courses and read much about non-verbal communication, social/group dynamics..."

You don't even see the irony in what you wrote here, do you?

Console (1)

fimbulvetr (598306) | about 10 years ago | (#10616026)

I've been wondering if there is a good game for xbox/ps that I can use to improve my skill with the types of poker and what not. Does anyone know if one exists? I seem to do well from just everyday experience, but I think that a console/pc type of game (not the crappy $10 walmart specials) would do a good job teaching the advanced concepts, simply because of the repetitive nature.

I'd be especially interested if there were an xbox live game...

This FP f0r GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616028)

GAY NIGGERS FROM haapen. 'At least

Checkout who your company is.... (1)

dfn_deux (535506) | about 10 years ago | (#10616029)

If you look at the world class poker players, you will find that many of them are classical trained in advanced sciences and mathematics. Poker is a game of the odds, especially games with community cards, such as texas hold 'em or Omaha. It's the games like 5 draw where the game really becomes about psychology...

Gamers Playing Poker (1)

pumpkin2146 (317171) | about 10 years ago | (#10616032)

It is exceptionally intresting to note that lots of highly skilled computer game players from games like Quake and Starcraft have recently (and in some instances not so recently) taken up playing poker for money, and seem to be doing okay at it.

Notable names that may be recognized by some of the more gamer geek types around here are Sujoy, Hakeem, Lakerman and Daishi.

Where's Wil? (1)

mcknation (217793) | about 10 years ago | (#10616044)

I've seen him talk about playing quite a bit over at his site. Seems like poker has become sort of a *geek* fad as of late.

Personally I perfer the odds at the Blackjack table. At poker yor aren't playing against the house though.

I suck at poker. I have a I'm not going to say what it is in a public form. :P


Short Term vs. Long Term (2, Insightful)

BadBlood (134525) | about 10 years ago | (#10616056)

Be careful, short term success does not a good poker player make.

Even the BEST in the world, Brunson, Chan, etc., go through long losing streaks due to the high variance of poker.

You can make the correct decision each and every time based on the proper odds, yet lose money for weeks at a time.

It's not how you handle winning that determines how good a player you are, it's how you handle losing.

Newbie Poker (1)

Nameis (556253) | about 10 years ago | (#10616060)

5 friends of mine thought that I'd be a good fish for their Texas Hold'em game. I went on to win 6 straight tournaments. Now they won't play with me anymore. :(

Online play has created the poker explosion (4, Insightful)

PK_ERTW (538588) | about 10 years ago | (#10616063)

Being able to play poker on the internet has really caused this explosion in popularity. I have played poker all of my life, but in reality, it is usually hard to find a poker game. With the internet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there is a game playing at your budget and skill level.

This has changed everything. You can practice for little or no money (I know sites that play 1c/2c games). There are sattelite games, so for only a couple dollars, you can have a chance to win a trip and entry in to a million dollar tournament. It has essentially made the game accessable to the masses.

This is great for us geeks, because the masses arn't very good at math and logic. Online play is all a math game. Once you get pot odds and the probabilities down, you are better than the average player. If you can manage a little patience, it becomes very easy to be a positive player.

And I'll be honest with you, It is rare that I find a video game that is as engaging as poker. It's multiplayer, and winning actually matters, so everyone is trying there best.


Opposite (2, Insightful)

Rangsk (681047) | about 10 years ago | (#10616064)

I find that being a computer geek makes me worse at poker than the normal Joe Schmoe. Now, physicists, on the other hand, tend to be better than the average. The difference, I believe, is that although computer people would tend to have the necessary math and analytical skills to play poker, they tend to think algorithmically which really doesn't work in a poker setting.

The only time I've felt I had an advantage was when the people I was playing against didn't know how to play poker.

Poker (4, Insightful)

Jack9 (11421) | about 10 years ago | (#10616072)

My brother lost about $20k over 5 years learning to play poker. After awhile he started making money. 2 things are necessary to consistently make money playing poker. Patience and time. As of now he lives in Las Vegas as a part time ramp agent and part time gambler, he has paid me back as well as the rest of the $10k or so he had borrowed from everyone. People are drawn in to poker by the "thrill" when the money games are specifically not about that. After you play a couple hundred thousand hands, you get over the thrill and learn a grind that is reminiscent of MMORPGs but with a more lucrative outcome for the investment.

Re:Poker (1)

Billobob (532161) | about 10 years ago | (#10616083)

People are drawn in to poker by the "thrill" when the money games are specifically not about that. After you play a couple hundred thousand hands, you get over the thrill and learn a grind that is reminiscent of MMORPGs but with a more lucrative outcome for the investment. While it may not be "thrilling", I almost guarantee that if you ask any good poker player whether he likes playing poker he will say yes. Many MMORPG players play simply out addiction, and often times don't so much enjoy it as they just want to accomplish a certain goal (only to start on another one).

Re:Poker (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | about 10 years ago | (#10616199)

Many MMORPG players play simply out addiction...

And gambling isn't an addiction?

The grandparent poster made a true statement, when your good at it, it does indeed become a grind.

I almost guarantee that if you ask any good poker player whether he likes playing poker he will say yes.

I think thats the idea ;)

Analytical skills are not enough (1)

RoadWarriorX (522317) | about 10 years ago | (#10616079)

Analytical skills are somewhat better than geeks than other people, which will give people only a slightly better edge than that average player.

Like other players, I know how to play the game of poker (i.e. straight beats a set, etc). I may have a better analytical skills that may allow me the calculate pot odds or the number of outs in any particular situation. Soon enough though, I run in many players who have equal footing in this area, even though they were not "geeks". Therefore, there must be something else out there that separates the pros from the ameteurs.

Alas, that answer is the ability to read tells. I don't mean the ones that you see occasionally on TV and they actually say what they are after they happen. I play with average people, and most average people display tells that give out a lot of information about the strength of there hands. The pros obviously learn to control the tells, but they ain't perfect either. So, learning tells is very important if you would want to win.

I recommend the book Caro's Book of Poker Tells [] . This book applies to different poker games, not necessarily texas hold-em. This book is somewhat older, but it has many of the tells that frequently occur and has photos to back it up.

Poker Face (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616082)

Just remember, if you cant spot the sucker at the table, your it.

Not just Poker (1)

gustgr (695173) | about 10 years ago | (#10616088)

I believe my programming experience has made me a better tetris player. With little practice I can beat most of players on tetrinet and I think this is due programming. Of course there are other good players, but most of good players that I found around are programmers either. Coincidence?

avi freedman made it to tv (4, Interesting)

complex (18458) | about 10 years ago | (#10616089)

avi freedman [] , chief network scientist at akamai [] and all around cool cool guy and networking geek, made it to the final table of pot limit omaha at the world series of poker.

Grad School (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616091)

In the early 90s I earned my spending money during grad school playing poker in the card rooms in the S.F. Bay area.

reading people vs math (1)

naiv (768305) | about 10 years ago | (#10616092)

i'm pretty good at reading people, but not in poker, cuz i dont even try. haha, because i dont know how to play. i do well when i play with my friends, because since i dont know how to play they dont know how to read me. i'll have a full house or somethign (i dont even know what that means) and then be like, "o, i'll just keep adding money for the fun of it" and everyone thinks i'm bluffing, cuz i am, because i dont know what a good hand is. i was gonna say that geeks not being able to read people is a stereotype. but... i can read people really well in eral life, and tell what they are thinking, and figure out what they mean even if they dont know. but i cant do math. haha. which is why i cant program. even though i want to so badly. i can understand program structures and come up with new structures that programmers i know think are really good (and think of them in ways that no one thinks of, because, i dont think like a programmer) but i cant program. i do know a programmer / math prodigy guy who is good at reading people. which is why we get along (he's a friend's father). however, he is lackign in some social skils. he's always off in his own little world. so, when he comes back, he can read people amazingly . but... when he's not here, he doesnt read people, cuz he's not here. his head is in the math clouds too often.

Many pros have a history in computers (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616104)

Many of the top pros had previous careers in computers:

Chris "Jesus" Ferguson - PhD in Computer Science from UCLA

Andy Bloch - Two degrees from MIT, once designed computer chips

Phil Gordon - degree in Computer Science from Georgia Tech

The old-fashioned reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616105)

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet. I just thought poker would be easier among geeks because of the large number of them taking time out to play strip poker.

Hmm (1)

Jeffus (783068) | about 10 years ago | (#10616109)

I don't understand it: sometime I win at online poker, and sometimes I lose.

They use your ego to take your money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616112)

Poker syndicates whole goal is to nourish this type of conceit among the flock. Sure, some of the herd get fat playing against the flock, but when the shepherd comes, everyone is going to be fleeced.
Poker is about cheating. It is easier to cheat people who think they are smart. So, you let them think they are smart, play upon their egos.
How do they cheat? The ways are innumerable, different ways against different tables, but usually its day-to-day nickel and diming, not so much the big pot type stuff you see in the movies.
Simply consider this. If only two players at a Texas table collude by using undetectable signaling, they double thier odds. Do people really think that when there is money involved the sharks don't take every advantage?

yes, it helps... sorta... (5, Interesting)

inkedmn (462994) | about 10 years ago | (#10616114)

I don't think that being a programmer automatically makes you more apt at poker, since playing good poker is just as much about reading players as it is about calculating odds. BUT...

I know of at least 2 exceptional professional poker players with extensive computer background: Chris "Jesus" Ferguson has a PhD in computer science, and you'll often hear him talking about how his studies in game theory have helped him at the poker table (and I'm thinking he's right, since he won the WSOP main event in 2000). Also, Barry Greenstein (he's also got 2 WSOP bracelets, iirc - neither were main event wins) is a former programmer who worked for Symantec for about 12 years through the mid-90's. As a side note, he donates every penny of his tournament winnings to charity (and I've seen him win over $1 million at a WPT event).

I've been playing poker for about 6 months now (pretty seriously, been competing in tournaments and reading some of the classic poker books), and I consider myself to be fairly accomplished (poker paid for my neuros audio computer [] , so I must be somewhat OK), and I'd have to say that being a programmer has helped a great deal with getting better.

As I said, being a good poker player has just as much to do with being able to understand your opponent as it does with being able to count outs and figure oods on the spot. If you can get a dead read on the guy you're in the pot with, you're in better shape than if you've got 24 outs post flop because if you know what he's holding, there's no stopping you.

Re:yes, it helps... sorta... (1)

Phalnix (714052) | about 10 years ago | (#10616188)

Annie Duke (sp?) has recently won a bracelet or two herself. She has her Masters in linquistic sociology (heh tell me that wouldnt help) shes a pretty smart person herself. But as she has mentioned as well. It goes beyond just being able to count some numbers and acess risk.

its very popular (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616122)

i know heaps of IT people who have taken up poker in the last year. online poker is very popular it seems.

I don't suck! (1)

knitterb (103829) | about 10 years ago | (#10616129)

I like to beleive that I play with people who are just seriously poor at playing poker...nay...they SUCK! :)

Great book about geeks playing blackjack (4, Interesting)

KJE (640748) | about 10 years ago | (#10616132)

Not so much about poker, but Brining Down the House [] is a neat read about how some MIT students (definition of geek, no?) took Vegas casinos and other for millions playing blackjack.

No, I suck. (1, Funny)

DdJ (10790) | about 10 years ago | (#10616133)

No. No, I completely suck at it, and will probably never get any better. You should all come teach me how to play, in a high-stakes game at my place. Show a bad player like me how it's really done.

Computer experience definitely helps (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10616152)

Project planning experience really helped me learn to bluff. And my unwillingness to comment source apparently translated into minimal tells. You can't read me or my code.

Playing poker is my pasttime (1)

Phalnix (714052) | about 10 years ago | (#10616167)

For about the last 3 months i've been playing poker with groups of friends (yes for money) about 2-3 times a week. My roommate and I (he excels at parlor games) have been practicing on a near nightly basis. I live in Houston, and lately they've had radio competitions that provide you a seat (Rod Ryans Houston Hold'em Tourny). My roommate and I have both been trying very hard to win a seat. Winner of this tourny get paid vacation to Vegas and a paid seat in the 2005 WSOP (world series of poker). I consider myself a winning player as well, the odds and betting strategies are what I focused on first. I dont feel that picking out others tells are that difficult, i pay much attention to nuances and details, however my own tells,,, I can lock myself up somewhere else and turn my body off. Maybe my "social geek issues" arent that bad after all ;)

thinking that because you're smart (1, Insightful)

trolluscressida (564353) | about 10 years ago | (#10616168)

you'll have an advantange over your opponents is a great way to get yourself into trouble. yes, brains are definitely an asset but they're no match for experience - particularly against those who've read up on the theory of poker and what not. A PhD who thinks he's smart - rightly so - and who sits down at a 10/20 game believing his intelligence alone will make him a winning player will get educated very quickly. If ever there was an example of "street smarts" being better than "book smarts" existed, poker is it. Having said that, almost all top poker players are brilliant people - but intelligence alone won't cut it. Nice thing about poker is that to make money you don't have to be good. You can actually be pretty bad - just need to find players worse than yourself. And for anyone interested, PartyPoker offers a bonus of 20% up to $100 on your initial deposit if you use the promo code "23457"

Reminds me of John Carmack (5, Interesting)

deicide (195) | about 10 years ago | (#10616197)

Finger ( entry from 1998:

Just got back from the Q2 wrap party in vegas that Activision threw for us.

Having a reasonable grounding in statistics and probability and no belief in luck, fate, karma, or god(s), the only casino game that interests me
is blackjack.

Playing blackjack properly is a test of personal discipline. It takes a small amount of skill to know the right plays and count the cards, but the
hard part is making yourself consistantly behave like a robot, rather than succumbing to your "gut instincts".

I play a basic high/low count, but I scale my bets widely -- up to 20 to 1 in some cases. Its not like I'm trying to make a living at it, so the
chance of getting kicked out doesn't bother me too much.

I won $20,000 at the tables, which I am donating to the Free Software Foundation. I have been meaning to do something for the FSF for a long
time. Quake was deployed on a dos port of FSF software, and both DOOM and Quake were developed on NEXTSTEP, which uses many FSF based tools. I don't subscribe to all the FSF dogma, but I have clearly benefited from their efforts.

I'm super smart programmer guy... (2, Funny)

LucidBeast (601749) | about 10 years ago | (#10616198)

but my wife beats me in poker pretty constantly. Then again she has PhD in genetics and I just own a programming company that I started when I dropped out of college. I've been supporting her studies so I guess I'm still smar... hey wait.. what was the question?

Playing poker is like driving (5, Insightful)

jbellis (142590) | about 10 years ago | (#10616200)

Nobody thinks he is below average.

As a matter of fact...! (5, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | about 10 years ago | (#10616204)

Here's the conclusion I've drawn from the stories of friends, coworkers and relatives over the past two years:
  • Every single one of them has started playing poker.
  • Every single one of them does nothing but win!

So, to answer the original question, it's not just programmers -- everyone is coming out ahead! Alan Greenspan clearly should take note, as there's something very wrong with the country's money supply.

Better be Good Players (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 10 years ago | (#10616212)

Particularly if they are playing strip poker.

Nobody want to see Jabba the Gut!

hooray for full tilt poker! (1, Funny)

jeff munkyfaces (643988) | about 10 years ago | (#10616232)

"I recently won thousands of pounds at full tilt poker! [] . It was so easy and now i'm really rich! I picked up poker as a hobby about 4 months ago, you can too!.
Perfect for geeks, you are sure to rake in the cash and the wonderful full tilt poker! []
Any other programmers/computer people find that they can play poker better than the average person because of their computer experience?
I sure know i can, thanks to my wonderful employers at full tilt poker! [] "

Why not (1)

DeepFried (644194) | about 10 years ago | (#10616234)

Why would we direct traffic to a site that requires windows to run? is web based and even has a picture of tux on their main page.

rounders quote (4, Informative)

greystreets (581356) | about 10 years ago | (#10616236)

Listen, here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker at your table in half an hour, you are the sucker.

The opposite -- well, not really (1)

tetranitrate (798753) | about 10 years ago | (#10616257)

I think since I am more logical/analytical then the average persom I am less likely to actually partake in games of chance. Maybe if I actually applied myself at poker I could do fairly well, but it really bores me.

Gambling is a tax on people bad at math.
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