Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2–3 sessions / week for 4 weeks, 1.5 hours / session


Permission of instructor.

Goals of the Course

  • Create an environment for study of poker theory without the need for real-money wagering.
  • Develop the basic foundation for decision-making in poker.
  • Allow students to assess their own level of play and have a framework for improvement.
  • Provide an understanding of the current poker environment and how students might leverage talent for poker in the future.


  • Basic Strategy
  • Analysis Techniques and Applications
  • Preflop Analysis
  • Tournament Play
  • Poker Economics
  • Game Theory
  • Decision Making



  • Gameplay - Cash in at least one or play at least 10 (Beginners Only) Daily Turbos on PokerStars
  • Casework - Pass all three cases
  • Attendance - Attend at least 6 of 8 lectures

Policy on Collaborations

You may interact with fellow students when preparing your homework solutions. However, you must write up solutions on your own. Duplicating a solution that someone else has written or providing solutions to be copied is not acceptable. If you do collaborate on homework, you must cite, in your written solution, your collaborators. If you use sources beyond the course materials in one of your solutions, you must also cite such sources.


1 Introduction  
2 Analytical Techniques (Guest: Joel Fried)  
3 Basic Strategy Case 1 Out
4 Preflop Analysis

Case 1 Due

Case 2 Out 

5 Tournament Play

Case 2 Due

Case 3 Out

6 Poker Economics (Guest: Aaron Brown)

Case 3 Due


7 Game Theory (Guest: Bill Chen)


8 Decision Making (Guest: Matt Hawrilenko)  

PokerStars Home League

Pokerstars has created a play-money Home League for this MIT course for registered students. Each student must begin playing Beginners Only Turbos before moving on to Daily Turbos. Beginners Only Turbos pay out top 20% and cashing in at least one of these tournaments (or alternatively playing in ten) is a requirement for passing the course.

Tournament Leaderboard Points

League rankings are based on tournament leaderboard points, which are paid out in a way similar to tournament prizes. With the exception of the Beginners Only Turbos, TLB points are paid out to the top 34% of players, according to the following formula:

\( \hspace{5cm} Points = if \:\: [ k > n * 0.34 ] \:\: then \:\: [ 0 ] \: \: else \:\: n * { { \sqrt{n} \over \sqrt{k} } \over { \sum_{x=1}^{int(.34n)} {\sqrt{n} \over \sqrt{x}} } } \)

n is the number of entrants

k is the place of finish (k=1 for the first-place finisher, and so on)

So first place in a 10-person turbo would earn you 4.38 TLB points, second would earn 3.10, and third would earn 2.52 for a total of 10.0 points awarded.

Daily Tournament Schedule

Note that the information listed below about the schedule is for archival purposes. The events in this schedule occurred in January 2015.

Starting Week 1

  • 6:00 PM - (Beginners Only) Daily Turbo
  • 8:00 PM - (Beginners Only) Daily Turbo
  • 8:00 PM - Daily Turbo
  • 10:00 PM - (Beginners Only) Daily Turbo

Starting Week 2

  • Sundays 2:00PM - Weekly Major (Real Prizes)
  • 6:00 PM - Daily Turbo
  • 7:00 PM - Daily Turbo
  • 8:00 PM - Daily Turbo
  • 9:00 PM - Daily Hyper-Turbo