About Bill Chen
|Current Residence||Lafayette Hill Pa.|
If the results of Bill Chen's performance at the 2006 World Series of Poker are any indication, poker is a numbers game.
Try these figures on for size: two gold bracelets, $900,000 in tournament winnings, one poker room sponsorship and one published book, The Mathematics of Poker.
Chen - that's Dr. Chen, actually - has a Ph.D. in math which he's put to use as a software designer, quantitative analyst and (here's where poker comes in) game theorist.
Even so, after winning his second bracelet at the 2006 series, Chen had one explanation for his sudden success.
"Mostly, a lot of luck," he told PokerListings.com.
He doesn't really mean that. When push comes to shove, Chen is a math guy to the core, and quick to dispute any player's assertion that the system makes for boring poker. As a researcher of the game, Chen formed his own opinions about what it takes to dominate on the felt.
"In the tournaments that I've played in, it's been luck at the right times, you know, pocket jacks against ace-king, that sort of thing," he said.
"But I think that it shows that following the mathematical concepts that we have, balancing our play, calling with the right frequencies, and so forth, trying to figure out what your opponent's range of hands is, actually does work, somewhat."
Despite his success, Chen has not turned professional. He still works in the statistical arbitrage department at Susquehanna International Group, where he is allotted six weeks per year to compete in the World Series of Poker.
Chen's first WSOP cash came in 2000 when he placed 11th in the $1,500 Ace-to-Five Lowball.
For the next five years he played frequently - mostly $50 and $100 live tournaments - but it wasn't until the 2006 World Series that Chen earned a reputation as a serious rounder for cashing in eight events.
Two of those cashes were first place wins, giving Chen two bracelets and throwing weight behind his mathematical approach. First he took down the $3,000 Limit Hold'em event for $343,618 and then went on to claim the $2,500 Short-Handed No-Limit Hold'em event for $442,511.
Chen wrapped up his 2006 WSOP performance by final tabling at the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em tournament, where he went out in second and went home as one of poker's players to watch.
Prior to his big wins, though, Chen was a Ph.D. candidate in math at the University of California - Berkeley. The career student discovered poker in 1993, when he started to subsidize his education with poker winnings from the Oaks Card Club in Emeryville, Calif.
By the time he graduated in 1999, Chen was armed with an interest in game theory, his Ph.D. and a job with financial trading company SIG, known for its poker culture.
The company is so poker-friendly, in fact, it lets Chen take time off to compete at the World Series of Poker and other tournaments each year. At these events, the good doctor plays for Team PokerStars.
In addition to expounding the mathematical theories of various poker games, Chen also practices yoga in his spare time at his home in Lafayette Hill, Pa. He is also known for frequenting the forums, notably the rec.gambling.poker news group, and attending the Big August Rec.Gambling Excursion in Las Vegas.
- Has a Ph.D. in mathematics
- Released a new poker book in the fall of 2006 titled The Mathematics of Poker
- Won his first two WSOP bracelets at the 2006 WSOP