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Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offered a four-week course on Poker Theory and Analytics taught by former Morgan Stanley trader Kevin Desmond.

For those that don’t have the money to afford a MIT education, you can now learn the concepts taught in this revolutionary class for free via MIT Open Courseware. Poker Theory and Analytics was offered through the Sloan School of Management and took a conceptual approach to teaching the game.

Students in this course were not required to wage a dime during this course and were encouraged not to do so. Rather, the course focused on poker concepts and student improving their understanding of these concepts rather than focusing on who could win the most money.

Desmond Disconnects Poker from Gambling – Says Concepts Translate Well to Business

According to the instructor motivation section of the course, Desmond played online poker professionally while studying finance at Villanova. Upon graduating, he decided to leave poker and become a trader at Morgan Stanley. He said that the transition to his new career was simple because of the concepts learned playing poker.

Desmond believes that concepts learned in poker can benefit students in both the business world and other aspects of life. One example was how that concepts of making decisions with incomplete information translates well to management positions.

His purpose in creating the class was to allow students a chance to “engage with poker conceptually, as opposed to gambling. He said that this was a particular challenge as most student would have a hard time disconnecting poker from gambling. He designed the course to allow students to work towards a common educational goal without needing wager real money.

Course Includes Heavy Hitting Guests

The last three lectures in this course include three special guest speakers. Financial author Aaron Brown helps break down Poker Economics for students in lecture six. Mixed game expert and WSOP bracelet winner Bill Chen was the special guest in lecture seven to cover Game Theory.

In the final lecture, former professional poker player Matt Hawrilenko helps Desmond cover Decision Making concepts with students. These special guests delivered valuable insight to key concepts. Chen and Hawrilenko helped add credibility to the course with their vast knowledge and experience in the world of poker.

Conceptual Poker Training a Solid Alternative for Amateurs and Non-Players

Considering that most poker players will never come close to playing at the professional level, a course such as the one at MIT could be of great benefit to amateur poker players. The Poker Theory and Analytics course is less about learning how to stack opponents and more about how to apply poker concepts to life.

For many amateur players and even non-players, this training can provide players with valuable skills that can further their careers and become successful at the game of life. Making the right decisions with incomplete information, being able to recognize the texture of certain situations and adjusting your strategy to changing conditions are just a few skill that translate well to other areas of life.

Poker Theory and Analytics may not create the next generation of poker champions, but it well could produce the next generation of business moguls with the poker instincts of old school road gamblers.

James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.

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