A simulation study of Texas hold 'em poker: what Taylor Swift understands and James Bond doesn't

Jay Falletta, Stephen Woodcock

Abstract


Recent years have seen a large increase in the popularity of Texas hold ’em poker. It is now the most commonly played variant of the game, both in casinos and through online platforms. In this paper, we present a simulation study for games of Texas hold ’em with between two and 23 players. From these simulations, we estimate the probabilities of each player having been dealt the winning hand. These probabilities are calculated conditional on both partial information (that is, the player only having knowledge of his/her cards) and also on fuller information (that is, the true probabilities of each player winning given knowledge of the cards dealt to each player). Where possible, our estimates are compared to exact analytic results and are shown to have converged to three significant figures.

With these results, we assess the poker strategies described in two recent pieces of popular culture. In comparing the ideas expressed in Taylor Swift’s song, New Romantics, and the betting patterns employed by James Bond in the 2006 film, Casino Royale, we conclude that Ms Swift demonstrates a greater understanding of the true probabilities of winning a game of Texas hold ’em poker.


doi:10.1017/S1446181118000159

Keywords


poker, simulation, probability.



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21914/anziamj.v60i0.12067



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ANZIAM Journal, ISSN 1446-8735, copyright Australian Mathematical Society.