# Thread: To math, or not to math

1. ## To math, or not to math

A couple guys at a poker table joked to each other that you wouldn't stand a chance at winning the game if you didn't know or calculate the probabilities involved with each hand. Many of the most successful players, however, do not rigorously consider mathematical probability but instead rely on the instinct they've developed which many times also consider a gut calculation of chances.

Likewise, I would think a Nascar driver to be much more likely to win a race against a mechanical engineer who knows the mathematics of the car he drives.

I find rote learning to be highly overrated. Typology would say this is just a reflection of my type (apparently we are skeptical of academic learning) but perhaps there is more to it than that.

Which style of learning and living do you think is more effective? Which works best for you, in practice? What is your philosophy of learning, or you could even say, your philosophy of philosophy?

2. I'm naturally a very mathematical, probabilistic thinker, which is different than rote learning. It's just the way my brain is wired. It serves me well in some situations but when things can't be easily quantified, such an approach fails.

You're right in that the Nascar driver would probably win a race against the mechanical engineer. Not sure about the poker players. Gut instinct and ability to read facial expressions is certainly important but the professional poker players do have a thorough understanding of odds and probability as well as the ability to count cards.

3. I think it wouldn't be beneficial to calculate every probability to the last decimal place while playing poker, but getting a feel for the numbers is obviously an advantage. If you practice associating situations with probabilities, it will train your intuition to make the right decisions.

There are definitely some circumstances in which the correct play is counterintuitive -- there's no way you're gonna get those right without rigorous study of the game.

Edit: then again, I'm also a naturally math-oriented person and tend to err on the side of doing too much calculation (in strategy games and in general). For this reason, I'm probably worse at poker than I could be were I a bit less obsessive.

4. Math is far from an authority on many things.

5. I'm intuitive. I'd be such a better chess player if I actually focused instead of just going with the flow.

6. If I wanted to gamble for the purpose of making a profit, I would implement mathematics in every single decision

Sometimes I think to myself, at least I can do the math

It would be my only real asset, I think

Playing dumb only works for the first few hands

7. These gut instincts or intuitions are unconscious propability calculations and you just get an instinct that "i should do this or that" and its based on your current perceptions. If you have seen something being a good choise thousands of times, you dont need to think whether it is a good choise the next time you get to same situation

8. It's the difference between tacit and explicit knowledge.

9. Yeah, I guess it could be said that I have a vague idea of my probability of winning a hand of poker, or how a game of chess could unfold, and that my willingness to do what I want is just a gamble after all. Perhaps the question is how much do you think about gambling before you do it?

10. Originally Posted by EvidenceOfRedemption
A couple guys at a poker table joked to each other that you wouldn't stand a chance at winning the game if you didn't know or calculate the probabilities involved with each hand. Many of the most successful players, however, do not rigorously consider mathematical probability but instead rely on the instinct they've developed which many times also consider a gut calculation of chances.
I don't know very much about poker, but I find it hard to believe that the best players don't have a good idea of what the odds are regarding the hands that they play. They may certainly override these things if they believe they have a good read on someone. I realize this isn't much evidence, bu I watched a couple of nights of the poker world series, and the people with the better odds consistently won. The exceptions were when someone managed to bluff someone else out of the hand they had.

I will say, also, that the few times I have played poker, "educated" people work just as much off of gut feel as those less educated. Unless they have practiced the calculations a lot, can in general calculate quickly, or have learned the odds of the particular game, a statistics degree is not going to make you an appreciably better poker player.

Originally Posted by EvidenceOfRedemption
Likewise, I would think a Nascar driver to be much more likely to win a race against a mechanical engineer who knows the mathematics of the car he drives.
No kidding. It is a contest where they have to drive.

But I believe the mechanical engineer would most likely be better at designing the car (at least certain parts of it).

Originally Posted by EvidenceOfRedemption
I find rote learning to be highly overrated. Typology would say this is just a reflection of my type (apparently we are skeptical of academic learning) but perhaps there is more to it than that.

Which style of learning and living do you think is more effective? Which works best for you, in practice? What is your philosophy of learning, or you could even say, your philosophy of philosophy?
I don't like rote learning either, but I don't think of math that way either. There are rules, but most people learn them by applying them to situations, not by using flashcards or repeatedly rehearsing the equations in their heads.

For me, what learning style I use depends on what I am learning. I cannot imagine learning to drive by learning the equations that apply to a car, nor can I imagine learning history by instinct.

I do have to say, however, that with experience, a "gut-feel" can lead to realizing what equations apply, and vise-versa.

A lot of people have that sort of instinct when they look at mechanical objects with regards to stability. But that is mainly because of experience (both evolutionary and personal). However, when it comes to instincts about things that are unfamiliar, I believe most people need significant retraining.

#### Posting Permissions

• You may not post new threads
• You may not post replies
• You may not post attachments
• You may not edit your posts
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO