Are economists better at games?

"In poker, world champion of poker, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, has his PhD in Computer Scientist from UCLA and his father teaches game theory there.  He and his father have co-authored an article on Borel and von Neumann’s models of poker, and from what I’ve been able to gather, Ferguson’s style of play draws heavily from game theory.  He and his father also show why the very best poker players in the world play a very aggressive game (actualy, Borel and Nash showed it, but Ferguson and his dad helped translate it for me) where optimal playing is actually to bluff *a lot* (more than you might think), even though every single book out there that teaches you how to play Texas Holdem recommends a conservative "tight aggressive" strategy.  Game theory suggests to raise (in limit poker) with your absolute dead worst hands a lot more than people usually feel comfortable doing – but this is exactly the behavior of the greatest, like Doyle Branson, Gus Hansen, and TJ Coultier.  So, I can buy that economics and game theory more generally should make one the better player.  But, it’s also interesting to note that the world’s best poker theorists (David Sklansky) is criticized for not being able to pull it off in real play.  It’s not enough to actually know the opimal move; it takes a certain level of openness to variance to be truly great at poker.  So I suspect it’s a mix of heart and head, and game theory can only take you to the water, but not help you drink."


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