Thursday, October 4, 2012

Studying statistics pays off for poker player



Jonathan Schoder took up poker as a hobby when he was 13. “I’m pretty good with numbers,” he says, explaining why he was drawn to the game.

When he was accepted into Emory, at age 18, Schoder didn’t want to take out student loans. So he decided to defer entering school for a year to earn his tuition through poker.

“It was all online,” he says of his year-long poker quest. “I had three screens set up at home and I was playing 24 games at a time.”

Schoder, now a junior at Emory majoring in finance and economics, made enough to cover his college tuition during that year, and he continues playing poker in his spare time. He says that his academic focus on statistics has made him an even better poker player.

This past summer, he decided to test those skills by entering the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Friends pitched in for the $10,000 stake needed to enter the tournament. “I found backers by posting it on Facebook. It took me about four hours,” Schoder says.

The bet paid off, for Schoder and his friends: He placed 36th and won nearly a quarter-million dollars at the tournament.

“I have a deep understanding of statistics,” Schoder says of his poker success. “There’s a lot of statistical models that I had to run to figure out how my opponents were playing and then play a different style against every single person. It’s a lot of looking at different percentages and then knowing how to figure out those percentages. I would say that school helped me out with poker more than poker helped me out with school.”

After he graduates, Schoder plans to become a venture capitalist. “It’s something meaningful that I can be happy about doing at the end of the day,” he says. “While poker is a lot of fun, venture capitalism has both aspects of happiness and fun."

Related:
Math's in your cards, so deal with it
Lottery study zeroes in on risk

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