The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the biggest and best engineering schools in the US, are starting a new course in which they try to teach students how to be better poker players. The course is called “Poker Theory and Analytics” and will be free to the public this summer, including videos of class lectures, the syllabus and PDFs of course notes. This is a part of their OpenCourseWare initiative, which wants to make certain courses at the school available for free to anyone.
The class will be taught by Kevin Desmond who is a graduate student in the school’s finance department. The main emphasis of his lectures is careful strategy and data analysis in order to get the best return on investment in any given game. He wants his students to learn how to play “tight aggressive”, betting and raising often but very rarely calling other peoples bets. His students use poker tracking software to analyze everything from optimal seating arrangements to tracking opponents betting and raising patters.
Desmond has taught this class this past winter session and he was mainly the one who wanted to make it available under the OpenCourseWare project this summer. His thinking is that poker is an excellent teacher for risk analysis. This wouldn’t be the first time MIT has tried to combine their love of mathematics with a casino game since their MIT Blackjack Team had a movie made after them starring Kevin Spacey.