Noah Stephens-Davidowitz (New York University)
Calvin Lab Room 116
What Makes Poker Awesome?
The complex, strange, and booming world of online poker grew from almost nothing about twelve years ago. It now moves billions of dollars annually, provides thousands of new (and mostly young) professional poker players with a real-life get-rich-quick scheme, and sustains multiple nine-figure-per-year companies. I am now a boring third-year PhD student at NYU. Before that, I was one of those professional online poker players, an extremely active participant in the online poker community, a poker coach, a security consultant, a poker journalist, and well... sort of a vigilante who tried to expose cheaters, scammers, and thieves. In other words, in various capacities, I spent about seven years studying one card game (and only three studying computer science...).
In this talk, we'll discuss what it is about poker that makes it so awesome. Why is poker a multibillion-dollar industry while, for example, Go Fish is not? Why is poker a game that's (arguably) worth studying for seven years while, for example, Battleship is not? The talk was originally intended for a non-technical audience of game designers, so, while we'll dance around technical topics like complexity theory, it will mostly be a talk about popular mathematics intended for a general audience.