If you want to improve your poker game, there is an endless supply of books, videos, forums and online streams out there that can help you take your skills to a new level.
But few of them have the kind of clout that comes from a class offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The new course, known as Poker Theory and Analytics, is taught by Kevin Desmond.
Over the course of eight video lectures, viewers are introduced first to the basic strategies of poker and then to more complex decision making skills.
As a graduate-level course, the material can get pretty advanced at times, but there’s plenty of guidance to help you follow along.
Lecture notes and insights from the instructor are provided along with the videos, as are assignments for students to test themselves with.
Course Designed to Teach Analytical Skills
The course was originally offered on campus on MIT as a part of the offerings at the Sloan business school.
The idea is to teach the kinds of analytical thinking skills and poker theory that could be applied to the business world, particularly in investment management and related banking fields.
According to those who have watched the class, the material is most relevant for those who are beginners, or at least those who haven’t studied the theoretical side of poker before.
However, that’s not to say that the material is basic: there is plenty of math involved, for instance, especially when it comes to discussion of expected values, ranges, and how tournament situations can impact poker math.
In the live version of the class, students played about 5,000 hands of poker using play money online poker sites (PokerStars.net, in particular) in order to apply their lessons, and those watching the videos of the course lectures can certainly do the same to help reinforce the lessons being taught.
However, you won’t have the chance to learn the kinds of prizes students in the classroom were eligible for; at the end of the class, there were $3,500 worth of (non-cash) prizes given out in a live tournament for students.
OpenCourseWare Allows Masses to Take MIT Courses for Free
The course is being offered as a part of the MIT OpenCourseWare program.
The initiative brings the materials used in many MIT classes online, where individuals around the world are free to learn without any registration or tuition payments required.
At the moment, there are materials from more than 2,200 courses available through OpenCourseWare (OCW).
According to the OCW website, 175 million visitors have taken advantage of the materials, with some of the most popular courses including Introduction to Computer Science and Programming, Linear Algebra, and Quantum Physics I.
Still, a course from MIT on gambling might seem like a bit of an unusual combination. But while you might think of the school as a haven for programmers and engineers, the school has been known for gambling success in the past.
Most famously, there was the story of the MIT Blackjack Team, a group of students and others who used card county and group strategies to beat casinos at the game throughout the world.
The team began operating in 1979, and has been immortalized in books like Bringing Down the House and movies such as 21.