Saturday, October 19, 2019


I should have read the author's appendix on Texas Hold 'Em poker before I read the rest of the book. Even so, I would have had to remember numerous poker terms unfamiliar to me until now.

I was able to follow the math or accept it. Occasionally, I checked it, like finding there are six possible combinations to form a particular pair, such as K K. Or (52*51) = 2652 possible two-card combinations, such as at the beginning of your Hold 'Em play. There are half as many combinations, C(n=52,r=2), if the order they are chosen makes no difference, which would seem to be the case in Hold 'Em.

By describing and discussing his progress in learning and applying the principles underlying this form of poker,  Roman Gelperin demonstrates his transition from partial understanding of the game to near-total understanding, along with the pleasure that he received upon reaching that plateau, a transition which involved discarding the categories his poker-book gurus had taught and replacing them with his own mathematically correct analysis.

The book is clearly written, but filled with poker terms that were off-putting for this non-player.
Essentially, Gelperin learned to analyze the latter half of play rather than to take the opinions of the
masters, opinions that sometimes were contradictory. He raises this to achievement of "self-actualization," in Maslow's hierarchy's  terminology, though that seems a stretch. He has a follow-on book that examines this topic intensively.

As a physicist, I have myself enjoyed the occasional solving of a new problem by working from the most basic principles, and I agree there is a thrill in doing so, especially when one has found what others have missed or been mistaken about.  Whether I "self-actualized" in so doing, I'm not sure, but it was sometimes thrilling.

The book merits five stars for poker aficionados, but about three for the rest of us. Mathematically that made it (3+5)/2=4, on the average.

The book was available on Kindle at Amazon for free the day I got it. I'm glad I read it.

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