Renowned Freakonomics author shifts to poker

Lots has been written on poker theory. Tons even. But never has a giant-scale, systematic analysis using massive volumes of actual data been done. Until now.

You've heard of University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt.

He was named one of Time magazine's "100 People Who Shape Our World," and his book, Freakonomics - a look at the hidden side of economics and how it manifests itself in everything we do, co-authored with Stephen J. Dubner - is a respected and best-selling hit.

And he's recently shifted his attention and his award-winning brain to poker.

Except not to win money at it.

He wants to dissect it. The idea: "Pokernomics," or the largest-scale analysis of poker hand data in the history of the world.

And with millions of dollars wagered at online poker tables worldwide, there's certainly no shortage of data to draw from. In particular, with software like Poker Tracker, players can also now store tens of thousands, even millions of their own hands, on their computers almost effortlessly.So the folks at are making a request: send in your hand histories - in particular those in Texas Hold'em - and they'll turn out a definitive analysis of what works and what doesn't in the world of online poker.

The questions they're hoping to answer: How much more successful can a player be if he knows the odds? What are the best betting strategies for getting the most money out of a winning hand? Are there simple betting strategies that can be used to win money even with losing hands?

Do people lose big after winning a big hand, or does success follow success? And so on.

The study has been underway since 2005, but hand histories are still being solicited for submission. All hand histories are entirely confidential and no one who is not working on the project will ever have access to any of them.

For more details on the study and how you can get involved, visit the Pokernomics Web site.

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