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Professor Avi Rubin usually teaches courses about computer security at Johns Hopkins University but, in his latest class, he turned his focus to poker. It’s a pretty unusual topic for a university professor undertake but he saw the value in giving students valuable insight into the game.

Throughout the two-week course, “An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Poker”, Rubin provided his students with teachings on calculating odds and identifying behavioural patterns in opponents. However, the goal of his class wasn’t simply to teach them how to win money; he wanted to show them how to calculate risk and make informed decisions in a practical use. During the last week of the class, Rubin held a tournament for over 50 of the students that took part in the class.

“One of the things I love to talk about is how decisions in poker can inform decisions in business and in life. Poker is about your ability to reason and calculate weighted probabilities. If you do know that’s what you’re doing, you have a big advantage,” Rubin says.

A Popular Class Among Johns Hopkins Students

While Rubin was originally criticised by his peers for teaching a class on a topic as casual as poker, it turned out to be very popular among his students. Within five minutes of registration, 100 students had signed up, and there was waiting list with 50 students on it.

To accommodate all of the interest, he moved the class to a larger auditorium and 237 students ended up enrolling. Students from all disciplines showed up to the course, with majors in computer science, economics, applied math and chemical engineering.

It would be great if Rubin was given the opportunity to teach the class again. Since there was so much interest the first time around, it’s very likely that the faculty will give him the go-ahead to teach another round of students about the game of poker.

There may even be some professional poker players who could go down the route of becoming university lecturers. Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu both have Masterclass series, and they could easily translate them into an in-person format.

The game of poker does require successful players to take into account many different subjects – maths, statistics and psychology, to name a few. It presents a practical application for anyone interested in these topics, so plenty of individuals would benefit from enrolling in such a course.