Poker 2007

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April 24, 2007 Meeting

LOCATION: Harvard Faculty Club, 20 Quincy St. Cambridge, MA

SUGGESTED ACCOMMODATION: The Inn At Harvard, The Charles Hotel


8:00 – 8:30: Meet and Greet

8:30 - 8:45: Introduction & Welcome

Professor Charles Nesson

8:45 - 9:00: Briefing on the Demands of Specificity in Formulating Useful Database Queries
How do we bring to bear the skills of social science on the data we now have at hand to formulate and answer the questions relevant to our concerns?

Professor Jay Kadane

9:00 – 10:30: Fears Surrounding Poker

Howard Shaffer and Richard LaBrie will lead off with brief description of their addictions research.

Topics of Discussion:
• Can the data set be used to discover warning signs of addiction?
• What factors are linked to the typical fears of poker?
• Are there ways to minimize the fears that are associated with poker?
• Can poker be brought more into the mainstream? Roundtable Discussion

10:30 – 12:30: Life Skills Derived From Poker

Senator D'Amato will introduce discussion by describing strategies for legitimating poker as a learning experience and subject of study.

Topics of Discussion:
• What is the effect on the university of the prevalence of poker?
• What skills does poker teach that has led to the rising popularity of the game?
• How can the skills that are taught by poker be adopted in the university setting?
Roundtable Discussion

12:30 – 2:00: Lunch at the Faculty Club

2:00 – 4:00 'Is Poker a Game of Skill?
Annie Duke, Howard Lederer and Andy Bloch will introduce discussion by articulating the challenge of demonstrating, culturally, legally and scientifically that poker is a game of skill.

Topics of Discussion:
• How can the skills of poker be conceptualized so as to permit research to articulate and substantiate them? • How can the data set be used to prove that poker is a game in which skill predominates over chance?
• What are the differences between skills used in poker played online and skills used in poker played face-to face?

4:00 – 5:30: Roundtable Discussion
Discussion of Issues Raised
• Time allocated to discuss unanticipated issues raised during the meeting, or issues that require more discussion.
Roundtable Discussion

5:30 – 6:00: Closing Remarks & Looking Forward

6:00 – 7:00 Reception
Noir at The Charles Hotel

Thanks for support to Dan Walsh, Michael Bolcerek and the Poker Players Association.


David Parkes - Harvard Artificial Intelligence Research Group
Annie Duke - Professional Poker Player
Howard Lederer - Professional Poker Player
Jay Kadane - Professor of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University
Andy Bloch - Professional Poker Player
Mark Hauser - Professor of Psychology, Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and Biological Anthropology, Co-Director, Harvard Mind, Brain and Behavior Program
Judith Donath - Director Sociable Media Research Group, MIT Media Lab
Andrew Woods - Poker Play, Director of Events, HL Central, Poker Player, Harvard Law Student
Dan Walsh - Lobbyist, Interactive Gaming Council
Howard Shaffer- Director, Division of Addictions, Harvard Medical School
R.A. LaBrie Associate Director of Research and Data Analysis, Division of Addictions, Harvard Medical School
Michael Bolcerek - Poker Players Alliance
Darren Klein - Poker Player, Harvard Law Student
Logan Schiff - Poker Player, Harvard Law Student
Andrew Brokos - Poker Player, Debater, Harvard Law Student
Keith Whyte - National Council on Problem Gambling
Neil King - Reporter, Wall Street Journal
Andrew Bradt
Tzachi Shragay, Lawyer
Fern Nesson - Teacher, Lawyer, Manager, Photographer
Charles Nesson - Convernor, Moderator

foucault -an excellent write-up of our meeting on 2+2, the leading poker discussion site


andy bloch


On May 1, a North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld a trail court's ruling against a poker promoter seeking an opinion that poker is a game of skill. Here are links to the case:

Before I get to my analysis of this opinion, this case is a good argument for us to seek declaratory judgements, because if we don't someone else probably will, and they might not do a very good job (like in this case).

In the court's analysis of the legal questions, the court first cites the "predominate-factor" test as the legal rule in NC, and then pretends it's following that rule. Of course, the "predominate-factor" test is vague when applied to poker, so the court has to make up its own principles to come to the decision they want. This quote from the opinion is particularly telling: "From the evidence, Judge Hudson was unable to determine whether skill or chance predominated in poker, but concluded that poker is a game of chance." In other words, the court couldn't figure out how to apply the old rule, so it made up some new rules to justify the result the state wanted it to reach.

To back up its decision that poker is a game of chance, the Court of Appeals makes up two new tests (without citation and without acknowledging that it is creating new rules). First is what I will call the "equal challenge" test. In games like golf or chess, both players are on an equal footing and there is no element of chance that will give one player the advantage over another. If there is such an element of chance, then, according to this court, the game is a game of chance, not skill. Second, is the "inherent chance" test, which says that the critical question is whether chance is inherent in the description of the game. If there is no mention of a random instrumentality in the normal description of the game and a player with (enough) superior skill can overcome any non-inherent chance, then the game is a game of skill. In other words, chance isn't "chance" if it's due to nature or the limits of human abilities.

Reading the opinion as a whole, I'd say that the court followed the "inherent chance" test, while pretending to follow the "predominate factor" test.

The plaintiffs made a predictable mistake, trying to argue that in poker, skill predominates, without understanding how judges in North Carolina (like most other states) actually decide the skill versus chance question. In North Carolina, like many states, the predominate test is always cited but never really followed (except for the obvious cases where there is no way for skill to give the player an edge). You can argue all you want that in the long run (or even short run) that skill will prevail, but once the other side testifies that, because of the turn of a card, a hand with a 91% chance to win loses to a hand with 9% chance to win, you'll lose your case 91% of the time.

The predominate test means different things in different states and it is often much different than a poker player or statistician would think. (In the terminology of Texas Hold'em, when your hand is "dominated" you still have about a 25% chance of winning the pot. No poker player would normally consider it gambling to call a bet when you have your opponent dominated. In game theory, "dominated" means something much different.) If we are going to take our fight to the courts, we have to first argue about what the legal rules actually mean when applied to a game like poker, and why.

One question that this opinion brings to mind is whether a duplicate poker game would be legal in NC. I think it could go either way. (Duplicate poker is like duplicate bridge, where the same cards are dealt at multiple tables, and the players's scores are only compared against the players' counterparts at the other tables. I've actually played duplicate poker for fun via email. I've never heard of anyone acutally playing it for real money, but there is at least one internet site that is working on the idea.)


andrew woods


I happened upon this the other day, and have been meaning to forward it to you:

While the article isn’t exactly a stirring defense of the importance of skill in poker – a first time player won the tournament, you may be interested to notice at the bottom of paragraph 2 the article describes the faculty participation in the public interest charity tournament. That faculty included one Professor Charles Nesson, “who hung in for several rounds before being knocked out by 1L Andrew Woods”. :-)

(While I may have put you out, you do look better in the photo – they only got the side of me…)


judith donath

Hi Charlie,

Thanks for the invitation - I really enjoyed the part of the meeting I was able to stay for (and am sorry i couldn't stay longer).

It left me with lots to think about. For instance, the catchall of "gambling" doesn't distinguish among communicative and non-communicative betting....


keith whyte

Keith, thanks very much for attending our meeting. you speak in a wonderfully balanced and sensible way. i'd like to explore the possibility of doing a berkman center project to develop a model policy statement for a university dealing with poker. have you any references to useful codes we could look at?

keith replies:

thank you very much and i regret i had to leave early. i would be happy to work with you on such a project. One great resource is a book by the gambling task force of the national assoc of student personnel administrators. If memory serves it is titled Gambling on Campus and the lead author-editor was McClellan. Also, howard shaffer did a study of college gambling policies. I hope this is helpful.

Mike Sexton

Hi Charles,

I appreciate the invitation to attend your meeting at the Harvard Faculty Club on April 24th, but I'll be involved with the WPT Championship event at Bellagio in Las Vegas at that time. (We have media day and a script run-through on April 24th and the final table on the 25th.) As much as I would love to be there, I'm just not sure it's possible I can attend.

I will do whatever I can, however, to help you prove poker is a game of skill. (Honestly, I can't imagine anyone not understanding this. How could there be professional poker players if it wasn't a game of skill?)

Obviously, luck is a 'factor' in poker, but over time, "because of the skill factors", the best players win. Here's a true story for you. When I lived in North Carolina and played poker professionally (which I did for eight years while living there), I'd go to a cocktail party and invariably, people you would meet would ask, "What do you do for a living?" I would always say, "I play poker for a living." They would say, "What? You gamble for a living?" And I would say, "No, I play poker for a living."

They would then tilt their heads with a questionable look and I would explain; "Let me put it to you this way: Suppose any eight people in this room said they played a little poker (i.e., amateur players). If we would get together and play poker just three nights a week, say Monday, Wednesday, & Friday, for six hours a night, the chance of me (or any other top pro) being a loser in that game at the end of a year would be over a million to one."

Once you explain it like that, they realize that over time, skill prevails, and the best players win at poker in the long run.

Again, Charles, let me know if there's anything else I can do to help you.


Mike Sexton

More from Mike

Hi Charles,

I just ran across this on a Newsgroup. It might help your cause in proving there are professional poker players.

'What do Shaquille O’Neil and Doyle Brunson have in common?.....They are both Professional Athletes!'

Last December I looked into the idea of forming a State of California vocational school for the profession of Professional Poker Player. I have developed and obtained state approval for four vocational schools in the field of paralegal in the past. Vocational schools in California cover hundreds of vocations such as paralegals, truck drivers, barbers, and even casino card dealers. A legal vocational diploma can be granted. All that is needed to obtain state approval is a profession defined by the federal government and listed in their Occupational Code Assignment (the OCA), this use to be called the Federal Dictionary of Occupational Titles.

I quickly found out that there was no such federal listing for Professional Poker Player. Listed under amusement & recreation were “Gambling Monitor” code #343.367-014, “Gambling Dealer” code #343.464-010, “Card Room Attendant I (chip person) code #343.467-010 and “Card Player” (prop player employed by a casino) code 343.367.010. There was no title or code for a person whose sole source of income was as a self-employed professional poker player.

I submitted an application to the United States Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, to define the vocation of Professional Poker Player and to have an appropriate code number assigned. I had to supply information on fifteen areas for their approval process. These fifteen areas are: Name of Occupation; Purpose of Occupation; Occupational Tasks; Work Activities; Interactions with other people; Physical Activities; Skills needed; Knowledge Areas; Educational Preparation; Training/Experience; Any Machines, Equipment, Tools, and Software; Products(s)/Services delivered; Primary Industry occupation is found; Any web sites/Resources about the occupation can be found (I did list Card Player); and the reason why I want this occupational code assignment.

I submitted information on all these areas. I would like to mention I did seek input form several well-known individuals in the poker world and not one wished to provide any input or to get involved. I was left to define this profession on my own. After several back-and-forth e-mails with the government analyst assigned to evaluate my request, it was submitted to their committee and approved. It was approved under the occupational title of “Athletes and Sports Competitors” code #27-2021.00.

The definition of a Professional Poker Player is:“Participates in competitive poker events, such as single table games and multiple table tournaments as his full-time occupation. Plays poker and engages in game conforming to established rules, betting, and regulations. Appraises each poker table or poker tournament as to the skill of other players. Keeps track of other poker player’s skill and betting habits. Has knowledge of poker-hand probabilities and bets accordingly. Has knowledge of poker playing money management. Interacts with other poker players at gaming tables or tournaments. Plays poker at single tables up to 12 hours a day or tournaments lasting for days. Must have the physical and mental endurance to concentrate for long hours of play. Must have the mathematical skills of poker strategy and probabilities. Must have the psychological skills to ‘read’ other poker players. Must have the ‘poker feel’ of knowing who and when to ‘bluff.’ Must have the knowledge of the rules of the poker game he is playing."

So, this is why Shaquille O’Neal and Doyle Brunson have something in common….they are both professional athletes. Doyle, if you are reading this we all know of your great disappointment in not being able to play professional basketball because of a leg injury. You are now a professional athlete. Ready to see your face on a box of Wheaties?

As an administrator, I am now in the process of developing state-wide vocational schools called Poker Training Centers. Any comments may be e-mailed to me at

Tuomas Sandholm

Dear Prof. Nesson,

Sounds like an interesting meeting and I would like to attend, but unfortunately I already have other commitments for that day.

I do completely agree that poker is a game of skill.

Tuomas Sandholm, Professor
Computer Science Department
Carnegie Mellon University

Antonin Scalia

Dear Charles:

Much as I enjoy poker--even talking about it--I cannot make the April 24 meeting. My court sits that day and the next. Thanks for asking me, and best regards.

Andrew Gilpin

Dear Prof. Nesson,

Thank you very much for the invitation to attend the meeting. Unfortunately, I already have a prior commitment on that day, and I cannot reschedule it.

I feel very strongly about the importance of player skill in poker. One of my favorite pieces of evidence in support of this is the play of Dan Harrington in the 2003 and 2004 World Series of Poker, in which he made the final table in both years. If poker were just up to chance, the probability of this occurring would be (9/839)*(9/2576), or less than 4 chances in 100,000. Of course, this is just one piece of evidence. There are many other occurrences that cannot be explained any other way (for example, as others have pointed out, the very presence of professional poker players).

Another piece of evidence attesting to the difficulty of poker is the fact that it has been a difficult application area for artificial intelligence (AI). Just as chess posed a challenge to AI until the 1990's, poker is a major challenge for AI researchers today. The most successful computer programs for playing poker can only handle two-player poker games, and even these players require enormous amounts of computation. The field still has a long way to go to match the cognitive abilities of an expert poker player in multi-player situations.

Thanks again for the invitation, and I hope the meeting goes well.


andrew brokos

Professor Nesson,

Thanks for inviting me to today's event, it was quite an impressive gathering. There are probably more, but there are the three video training websites I was telling you all about:

Poker X-Factor ( This one focuses primarily on tournament play, though they have some ring game videos. The main commentators are Cliff Josephy (JohnnyBax) and Eric Haber (Sheets), though they have some high profile (in the internet poker world) guests as well.

Card Runners ( This site focuses on No Limit Hold 'Em ring games, though they've been offering more on tournaments and other poker games recently. They have some of the biggest winners in some of the biggest games online working for them, including Taylor Caby (Green Plastic) and Brian Townsend (sbrugby).

Stoxpoker ( I'm not a member of this site, but my understanding is that their focus is on Fixed Limit Hold 'Em. The main pro is Nick Grudzien (Stoxtrader).

If there's anything else you're curious to know about internet poker, feel free to ask.


Jim McManus

Dear Professor Nesson: as you may know, I'm the former poker columnist of the NY Times, author of Positively Fifth Street, and currently writing a history of poker to be published by FSG in late 2009. It's currently being serialized on news/history of poker. An unpublished draft of a chapter related to poker at Harvard and on the Internet is attached, and the latest edition of Fifth Street has been mailed to you by my paperback publisher. I'm also on Howard's team as a Team Full Tilt pro.

Having taught the literature and history of poker at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for nine years, I would have dearly loved to be in Cambridge for the skill v. luck debate. I hope that you'll keep me in mind for any future poker debates or courses you have in mind. (Even though I sense you were speaking tongue-in-cheek, the idea of a poker university strikes me as a pretty damn good one.)

Also, if you have any information relevant to the history of the game, I hope that you'll share it with me.

All the best,

Jim McManus

readings and links

foucault -an excellent write-up of our meeting on 2+2, the leading poker discussion site
Chuck Humphry: Is Poker a Game of Skill?
United States v. Marder (1st Cir., 1995)
Commonwealth v. Lake, 317 Mass. 264; 57 N.E.2d 923 (1944)
Commonwealth v. Plissner, 295 Mass. 457, 463-64 (1936)
student comment on these cases
Mark Twain: Science vs. Luck
Bill Dutton: Internet Gambling
Robert Rogers Web-based Survey
Massachusetts Attorney General's Advisory on Poker Tournaments
North Carolina case
Antigua - WTO
Herald Tribune on WTO
freakonomics on skill v. chance
UIGEA Intrastate Provision
The Thinkers: CMU prof using game theory to match kidneys
Howard Shaffer - Richard LaBrie Gambling Research Briefing
Barney Frank's Bill
George Bush is a Poker Player
Sherlock Holmes, The Final Problem
Online Poker - Phil Helmuth
steroid use for poker
nevada statute criminalizing internet gambling
washington statute criminalizing internet gambling
massachusetts proposal to criminalize internet wagering
H.R. 6870


can you shuffle a deck of cards in scratch
can you teach scratch how to play good tic tac toe
teach shuffle
teach random
teach game space
teach game

student projects pro and con legal regulation

Poker IS a game of SKILL


During my time at Harvard Law I have been an active poker player, setting up a weekly Harvard Law School game, going to Foxwoods and Vegas regularly, as well as playing online. I also regularly follow and sometimes post on the message board and am a member of the Poker Player’s Alliance, a grass roots organization designed to encourage poker in the United States.

I have often made a substantial amount of my livelihood playing poker, and friends of mine in the online community including my college roommate are playing professionally. My roommate has played successfully for years now as a full time job and has earned around 150k this year since January, for those of you who doubt it is possible to win over the long term.

So clearly poker is an important part of my life, which is not to say that is a reason in favor of existence. I do believe however that poker is a complex adversarial game of skill which encourages various modes of thinking that are useful in the real world, particularly f or me as a future litigator. I also believe that off the table skills like bankroll management and the ability to handle statistical variance are key to success in poker and in life. In my podcasts I will explore these ideas and other reasons against regulation.

Logan Schiff


Internet Gambling and Empathy


In October of 2006, President Bush signed a law which held financial institutions responsible for making deposits into internet gambling websites. In essence, the law was an attempt to stop Americans from gambling over the internet by cutting off the dollars. The elephant in the room is the choice between “prohibition” and “regulation.” My CyberOne final project is a series of Podcasts designed to argue for regulation.

My arguments will not appeal to everyone, but they do not have to accomplish that much. I first discuss my target audience: the people that feel that internet gambling poses a special threat beyond gambling in a real casino. One need not look far to discover legalized gambling away from the internet in almost every state. Once I find my audience, I try to find their strongest argument and also discover what types of arguments would sway them. i.e. what is it that they are concerned about? Well it turns out that they are concerned about the same types of things that I am concerned about: gambling addiction and especially its effects on children. But come on over to the Webpage and check out the Podcasts so that you can see for yourself.

Darren Klein

The Social Structures of Online Poker

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at Cornell University, specializing in networks, organizations and economic sociology. Here is a proposal for a research project and I am looking for feedback and help/advice about acquiring data. The proposal involves viewing online poker as both a game and a profession through a variety of social science lenses, and contains an outline of various proposed empirical measures used to objectively and scientifically study it. I believe this project has the potential to heighten public understanding of poker, contribute to the study of many social science theories, topics and questions and help cut through the contentious rhetoric concerning the legality and skill-based nature of online poker.

A key part of this proposal is the acquisition of an extensive collection of hand histories for non-profit academic use, which could perhaps be a linchpin of the "Poker University" envisioned above. I am hoping to catch the attention and interest of people working with an online poker site that may be willing and interested in collaborating and donating hand histories, or failing that, collaborators who are able and willing to share the costs of purchasing an extensive library of hand histories.

Above all else, I'd love to talk about poker in any capacity, and am heartened to see such intellectual and political curiosity regarding the game, so please feel free to contact me. I look forward to contributing to this burgeoning academic community.

Kyle Siler

Strategic Poker Thinking

Harvard Law School Poker Strategic Thinking Society


ARTICLE I. Name and Purpose

Section 1: The name of the organization shall be the Harvard Law School Poker Strategic Thinking Society (referred to herein as "PSTS").

Section 2: The purpose of PSTS shall be: PSTS is meant to utilize the study of poker as a vehicle to teach game theory, economic theory, defense theory, statistical analysis, communication, and all of the various other skills that effective poker teaches. Students will be trained to recognize the application of various theories, to be self-analytical, to develop communication and negotiation skills, and in the implementation of abstract concepts in tangible situations.

ARTICLE II. Membership

Section 1: Membership in PSTS shall be open to the entire Harvard community. However, a preponderance of the membership should be enrolled at Harvard Law School.

Section 2: Limited absences from meetings for serious cause shall not jeopardize a member's status as a member in good standing.

Section 3: No qualified member shall be refused membership on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, socioeconomic class, veteran status, or disability.


Section 1: Only members in good standing shall have the right to vote in PSTS.

ARTICLE IV. Meetings

Section 1: The first meeting of the academic year shall be held within one month of the commencement of Fall classes.

Section 2: The general membership of PSTS shall meet at least three times every semester. Meetings shall be called by the Executive Committee and members shall be given due notice of the time and place of such meetings. Whenever possible due notice shall include publication of a public notice.

Section 3: Meetings and functions of PSTS shall be open to the public except as the Executive Committee shall otherwise provide.

ARTICLE V. The Executive Committee

Section 1: The Executive Committee ("ExComm") of PSTS shall consist of the President, the Vice President, the Treasurer, and any other officers deemed necessary by the President, and a Faculty Advisor.

(a) The President shall preside over General Meetings and shall call and preside over Executive Committee Meetings, and before each election shall determine how many officers will be in the next ExComm. He or she shall be responsible to PSTS for the faithful execution of the purposes and policies of PSTS.

(b) The Treasurer shall have responsibility for PSTS funds, drawing up and submitting the PSTS budget to the Dean of Student’s Office, and otherwise complying with Harvard Law School policies regarding funding and reimbursement. The one-year treasurer’s term officially lasts from July 1 to June 30.

(c) The Vice-President shall be responsible for overseeing logistics for the PSTS, as well as helping to coordinate research projects. This position may be split into two at the discretion of the President.

(d) The President may choose to designate other ExComm positions for the next calendar year as they are deemed necessary.

(e) The Faculty Advisor shall serve in an advisory capacity to the PSTS and shall not have a vote.

Section 2: The Executive Committee shall function as the governing body of PSTS and shall be primarily responsible for the transaction of the business and functions of PSTS.

ARTICLE VI. Selection of the Executive Committee

Section 1: Any Harvard Law School student member in good standing shall be eligible for election as an officer of PSTS.

(a) The Faculty Advisor shall not be elected by the general membership, but instead selected by the ExComm.

Section 2: New ExComm members shall assume their duties on May 1 of the year they were elected. The treasurer’s term will last from July 1 to June 30.

Section 3: Procedure for Election of ExComm Members:

(a) A general membership meeting shall be held during the Spring semester of each year for the purpose of electing officers of PSTS.

(b) All members interested in running for election must notify the ExComm prior to the Election Meeting. Each Candidate for President, Treasurer, and any other Offices as created by the President, shall make a presentation at the beginning of the Election Meeting.

(1) If a Candidate cannot attend the Election Meeting, he/she may request that a sitting officer of the Executive Committee read a presentation for him/her.

(c) After all of the above Candidate presentations are complete, the voting shall be by secret ballot.

(d) The Candidate for each office receiving a majority of available votes wins. In the event that no Candidate receives a majority of votes, a run-off secret ballot shall he held between the two Candidates receiving the most votes.

ARTICLE VII. Removal of Executive Committee Members

Section 1: Any member of the ExComm may voluntarily resign from the Committee by submitting a notice of resignation to the Committee.

Section 2: Any member of the ExComm may be removed for cause. Cause is limited to continued failure to perform duties as specified in this Constitution, misappropriation of funds, failure to maintain their status as a member in good standing, or failure to attend more than half of the Committee meetings for which they have received due notice.

Section 3: Removal of a member of the ExComm is achieved by a majority vote of the other members of the Committee.

Section 4: Any vacancy on the ExComm created for any reason other than the end of term shall be filled by appointment by the President.

ARTICLE VIII. Amendments

Section 1: Any PSTS member may propose amendments to this Constitution by submitting them to the Executive Committee.

Section 2: Amendments to this Constitution must be approved by a vote of two-thirds of the membership of the Executive Committee.


what's a WIKI

how do i join in

Justice in Jamaica


come down for an organizational meeting
come down soon after for an officer’s retreat at which we explain and teach and learn to play poker
come down a third time to start with inmate sessions
come down a fourth time to attend the officers tournament


access to functioning computer lab with
projection screen
at least six machines capable of running second life
rio cobre juvenile facility
general penitentiary tower street
lockwood avenue officers training school
access to real discussion space appropriate for class discussion
outlet for course on prison radio with kevin host producer
access for kevin and roz to lead talk on island radio and cable tv
local corporate sponsors for the program and prizes for the tournaments
camella rhone to structure data gathering
richard reese responsible for security
kevin wallen head tutor
roz brown communications
father albert for good will and support
marguerite orane for new approaches to education

plus whomever this group thinks should also be included

location of initial meeting preferably destiny


the berkman center is putting up US$6k in contract with kevin wallen, destiny productions, to lead three workshops in distance learning and poker strategic thinking, tower street, rio cobre, and mountainview primary
dcs needs to put up US$2k for kevin wallen to lead the workshop at lockwood avenue

we need a schedule of the events we are going to make happen


at least 6 machines in each lab

integrate with radio station

start cable station

gile's response

we are of the opinion that it is not an opportune time for the programme to be introduced within the Department of Correctional Services for the following reasons:

  • Poker from a cultural perspective is deemed as a form of illicit gambling.
poker from gambling origins but transformed by world series, television and internet
opportunity to address and sort out the plusses and minuses of gambling
  • The Department is now facing problems with illicit gambling among inmates, therefore sanctioning this game (Poker) may send the wrong message.
treat this problem as an opportunity; use the interest among inmates in gambling as a way to draw them into the program
  • At this time the public is still debating the issue of casino gambling, thus there is an anticipated public out cry should we introduce the playing of Poker in the institutions.
let us anticipate the anticipated outcry by (1) making clear that our strategy is to teach strategic games, starting with chess; (2) discussing in every appropriate forum the idea of teaching with strategic games, ministers, staff, guards, inmates, family, press, all before introducing poker; (3)clarifying that tournament poker play is not gambling, and even that cash game poker is a kind of gambling akin to investment as compared to casino gambling, which is lottery.

We therefore ask you to reconsider this offer. It is our belief that the game of chess would be a better teaching aid at this time. Should you be able to offer this in collaboration with the Jamaica Chess Association, we would be more than willing to give further consideration.

thank you for your response to our offer, both in respect to your articulation of concerns about poker, and for your counter with respect to chess. We are pleased to accept your invitation to reconsider our offer and to recast it with the use of chess as a starting aid at this time.

  • THE PRESIDENT: Ian Wilkinson
Cell Phone: (876) 322-2143

In strategical games the players have a choice of action and their actions are interdependent. Strategical games may also contain either or both of the elements of chance and imperfect information. Chess is a strategic game with perfect information and no element of chance. Poker is a strategic game with both elements of both imperfect information and chance.