Thursday, December 29, 2011

Apes as poker players

Everybody has heard of dogs playing poker, but apes? Apparently they have some characteristics that would be useful to the game, according to two news stories of recent research that I saw today.

In the first, scientists found that all four species of the great apes are capable of making sophisticated risk/reward decisions. When presented with a choice between a small piece of banana with a known location or taking a chance on lifting one of several cups in the hope of finding a larger piece, the apes make their decisions based on the probability of success and the discrepancy between the size of the small and large piece. The larger the hidden piece, the more risk they are willing to take to find it. Sounds like calculating pot odds to me.

In the second, researchers found that chimps in the wild take into account whether the other chimps already know about a danger before deciding whether to sound a vocal alarm. Awareness of other players' states of knowledge is a critical poker skill. Was that guy here when I bluffed in this situation 30 minutes ago? If so, was he paying attention, and will he recognize that this hand is very much like that one? It seems that chimps have at least the rudimentary ability to process this kind of information.

In both of these traits, I'd have to say that they exceed the capacity of at least some human poker player, who display zero ability to perform such complex tasks.


Dartgod said...

And I'm sure they would behave better than say...Phil Helmuth.

Anonymous said...

Have you not heard about the likllehood of Black Friday being reversed? No sites seem to have picked up on it. It's in all the UK newspapers.

sevencard2003 said...

how come uve not updated ur blog in some time? been browsing to see if u said anything about binions game and meeting vince.

Rakewell said...

Tony, as I have said here about a million times before, I write when I feel like it, not when I don't. Sometimes I go a few weeks without feeling that I have anything worthwhile to share, sometimes I go on a tear and post ten times in one day. There's no rhyme or reason to it, it's just what I feel like doing. I don't try to chronicle every poker session, because I think that would be tiring to write and boring to read.

Efforts to get me to write more, or less, or about some particular subject, are a complete waste of time and energy, and have been for the entire five years I've been blogging.