Poker as a Lottery

Is poker like a lottery in which the more skilled players hold more tickets than less skilled players? Stephen Schulist investigates

Doyle Brunson , two-time winner of the World Series of Poker main event, has likened a poker tournament to a lottery in which more skilled players (like himself) hold more tickets than less skilled players (like myself). In this article, I work out the details of this analogy and provide some very general and, I think, very important results for anyone hoping to be a winning poker player.

Lottery Analytics
Consider a lottery in which each player is allowed to write his name on any number of tickets and drop them into a hat. After each player has deposited his tickets, the hat is shaken. The winner’s name is drawn first. The drawing then continues until a distinct name (not the winner’s) is drawn; that player is the second place finisher. The drawing then continues again until a third distinct name (not the winner’s and not the second place finisher’s) is drawn; that player is the third place finisher. This procedure is repeated until each player’s name is drawn, the random order of names determining the placement of each player.

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