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  • KEVIN DESMOND: All right, everyone.

  • So welcome to 15.S50, Poker Theory and Analytics.

  • So this is going to be Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • from 3:30 to 5:00.

  • I just got a room for a review session on Tuesday,

  • Thursday for anyone who needs to catch up a little bit.

  • The class is here, 4370.

  • I'm Kevin Desmond.

  • I'm going to be the instructor.

  • Paul Mende is the faculty advisor.

  • And this is worth three H credits.

  • The game play aspect-- so this is what I did.

  • And I think this is really cool.

  • So Poker Stars gave us our own private league for only MIT

  • people in this course.

  • And my goal here is to separate people

  • who are fairly new from people who are very competitive,

  • because I don't want someone not to pass the course because they

  • happen to be not that great at poker.

  • So I created this thing called the Beginners' League.

  • And these are going to be Daily Turbos.

  • Turbos means they're fast-ish tournaments.

  • And to get the game play credit, you can cash,

  • you can make money in one of them,

  • or you can play in 10 of them.

  • So those who are struggling can get this game play credit

  • by playing 10 tournaments, which is about a 10-hour commitment.

  • Let's go into the game play aspect more.

  • So Poker Stars created this private league for us,

  • which is really cool.

  • So Poker Stars is generally considered the most reputable

  • online poker site.

  • That's why we use them.

  • So they have two different types of games.

  • So they have real money and play money games.

  • Now if you're in the US, you can't do real money.

  • It used to be something that was very gray area.

  • And then there was one poker site which turned out

  • to be legitimately like a Ponzi scheme, and as a result,

  • now poker in the US is like much more black and white,

  • definitely not OK for real money.

  • However, their play money scene is pretty resilient,

  • and that's what we're taking advantage of here.

  • The Poker Stars play money scene is broken down

  • into two different things.

  • They have public games, where you can just go and play

  • for play chips against anyone in the world, which is cool.

  • And you can do that, and I recommend

  • you give it a shot just to get used to the software.

  • In addition, you could do home games,

  • which is what we're generally going to be doing.

  • That's what they call their private leagues.

  • So in the private leagues, in their home games,

  • they have this showcase.

  • And you might notice as soon as you log in

  • that the MIT League, Poker Theory and Analytics,

  • is already at the top.

  • That's not just for us.

  • That's for everyone.

  • Anyone in the world who logs into Poker Stars

  • and looks at home games has the MIT League

  • at the top, which I think is really cool.

  • So to access this, I'll send a more specific instructions

  • later.

  • I gave you guys just the passcode of what you need.

  • But to actually get there, what you need to do

  • is, you log into Poker Stars.

  • You go to this button, which is a little house,

  • to access home games.

  • And then you want to join a game.

  • And what you do is, you put the Club ID, which is 557832.

  • You put the invitation code, which you're all

  • going to have on Stellar.

  • And then you put your real name, preferably the one that's

  • listed in the course, because I actually

  • have to approve everyone that joins the league,

  • and I can't do it just based on someone's screen name.

  • And I guess you have to agree to some sort of terms

  • and conditions.

  • So let's talk about hand history.

  • So a lot of analytics are going to be based off

  • of hand histories, which are just text files that Poker

  • Stars gives you to the extent that you indicate that you want

  • to save them down.

  • So these are kind of jumbled messes of text.

  • Each line just shows one thing that happens.

  • And you might get used to reading it,

  • or might not, depending on how much

  • you're going to scrutinize it.

  • But more importantly, you can use

  • these in all the data analytic programs

  • that we're going to use.

  • In particular, Poker Tracker runs off of that.

  • You'll load just thousands of hands into Poker Tracker,

  • and it'll do analytics for you.

  • It knows exactly what's going on based on that format, which is

  • generally considered universal.

  • And then for the sake of visualizing these hands--

  • if you just read it, that's fine.

  • But then if you want to show other people,

  • I'm recommending we use something called the Universal

  • Hand History Replayer, which is something that's free.

  • And what it does, it just reads the hands, and it plays them.

  • It animates what happened as if you were seeing it for real.

  • So the deal with hand histories is,

  • if you're a real money player, Poker Stars dedicates databases

  • of hand histories so that, if you want,

  • you can request all your hand histories at any time.

  • For play money players, they let you capture your own hand

  • histories if you want, but they definitely don't save them.

  • So the reason I'm showing you this now,

  • and I'm going to email it out to you later,

  • is if you lose your hand histories,

  • so you don't capture them in time,

  • you'll never get them back.

  • So make sure you're actually capturing hand histories,

  • because we're going to be using that for a lot of the analysis

  • we do.

  • OK, so let's talk about the league.

  • And honestly, I think this league

  • is going to be really cool.

  • Usually the evolution of a player

  • is they're terrible at poker, and then they

  • start becoming good at playing against bad people.

  • And then when they actually start playing for real,

  • they get crushed again because they're

  • used to playing against other bad people.

  • So this will actually hopefully get

  • you used to playing against other people who

  • are playing correctly, which is not something you can commonly

  • learn just from playing around with your friends.

  • In addition through playing in these online leagues,

  • you can collect stats that you could never

  • get from playing live.

  • And I think this is why the live tournament scene is

  • dominated by online pros.

  • It's because no live pro can get as many hands

  • or analyze their play in the way that you can do online.

  • It's not even comparable.

  • So this is given-- even if your whole intention is to only play

  • live the entire rest your life, doing this type of analytics

  • would give you a chance to learn at a much faster rate

  • and learn things that you would never see live.

  • So every week we're going to have a major tournament, which

  • is basically going to be the same structure, maybe

  • a little bit slower, than the ones we do daily,

  • except they're going to have real prizes.

  • So Akuna is giving us, for their first tournament,

  • Beats headphones.

  • And Apple TV, Bose speakers and a lot of gift cards.

  • And then for their second tournament,

  • they're giving us all of those things

  • plus an iPad Air and an iPad Mini.

  • But we're not done yet.

  • Because this class is focused on playing live,

  • we're going to end the class with a live tournament

  • sponsored by Optiver on the 31st, which

  • is the day after the last day of the class.

  • So after the league's over, and after you

  • guys are good at poker, you'll have an opportunity

  • to play each other in a live tournament, where their prize

  • pool is all of the Akuna prizes, plus a PlayStation

  • 4, plus an iPad, plus a Kindle, and plus a GoPro.

  • I want this to reflect the type of things

  • an online, multi-table tournament player would do.

  • How it normally works is, during the week, and basically

  • every single day, there is a uniform amount

  • of tournaments that will just run every single day

  • at the top of the hour.

  • And these pros will just grind those out.

  • They'll get used to the structure.

  • And that's where they'll kind of grind their teeth.

  • And then on the weekends, that's when

  • you get a lot of the square money, a lot of the newer guys

  • who only play poker on the weekend.

  • And those are more gimmicky, idiosyncratic tournaments,

  • but also the highest value.

  • So that's why I'm producing the tournament structure like this,

  • where the bulk of your tournaments

  • will be very similar to each other.

  • But then the tournaments that really matter

  • will be completely different, at least relatively different.

  • So that's why I'm doing that.

  • That'll make you get a feel for what

  • these guys have to go through.

  • So let's talk about turbos.

  • Turbos let you focus on pre-flop decisions, which

  • are the area where I think there is the most

  • to learn among people who are new at poker.

  • Basically, all of your value that you're

  • losing in tournament is from screwing up pre-flop.

  • No one gets that right live because it's really difficult

  • to be able to feel comfortable doing what's generally

  • considered right.

  • And we're going to spend a lot of time on pre-flop.

  • But these turbos encourage you to do that sort of thing,

  • because live is a lot of pre-flop,

  • and you're going to be doing that in the turbos online, too.

  • In addition, no one wants to spend

  • six hours doing a tournament.

  • So I'm making these turbos so you can

  • be in and out in 45 minutes.

  • And then you boot up another tournament,

  • or you can be done with poker for that night.

  • In addition, you have the opportunity--

  • you can play as many tournaments as you want.

  • It's common for pros to do something called multi-tabling

  • which is they'll do multiple tournaments at the same time.

  • For the beginners, I'd probably recommend you just do one.

  • But for the regular league, have at that.

  • you want to do like all four tournaments at the same time,

  • go ahead, to the extent that they overlap

  • with each other a little bit.

  • OK.

  • So that's the end with the prize league.

  • So the schedule is, we're going to go through what

  • I'm calling basic strategy, which

  • are the basic axioms that we're going to be using in order

  • to analyze the decision making process in poker.

  • Then we're going to be doing pre-flop analysis.

  • And we're going to be doing a lot of this, because this

  • is really where the value add is going to be,

  • is getting this right.

  • I think the way that we can tackle

  • this thing is kind of a way I recommend that you

  • learn anything complicated.

  • So we're going to break this down

  • into three different sections.

  • Fundamental concept, practice, which are actually implementing

  • those concepts when you have 10 seconds to make a decision,

  • and then more advanced stuff.

  • With regard to concepts, I'm going

  • to call this the basic framework for decision making.

  • It's being unexploitable.

  • You want to get to the level when you sit down at a table,

  • every pro in the room doesn't turn and go,

  • I want to sit at that guy's table.

  • You want to be a slightly winning player

  • way before you want to become a huge winning player.

  • In order to let you know the type of thing

  • that we're learning, I'm going to label the slides with this,

  • to indicate that this is like a basic concept.

  • Learn this thing before you move on.

  • The advanced stuff is, once you learn

  • how