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We’d like to put some Freak into the game of poker

In a comment to our last post, Keg277 wrote:

Now, I’ve got a question…whether it classifies as one that can be Freakonomically answered, I don’t know.

I was watching a movie yesterday on Stu Unger, who was a professional poker player. In one scene, he mentioned to an opponent (played by Pat Morita) that when he had a good hand, he exhibited several tells–little bits of body language that indicate the strength of the hand that a player (in this case Morita)was holding.

Is there any way to “Freakonomically” determine if a player’s ability to read (or hide) tells impacts their ability to win money in poker games?

It just so happens, we have been on the lookout for exactly the data that would allow us to answer that question. A professional poker player had promised us the data from 1 million online hands he and his friends had played, but in the end he never came through. We’ve been desperately seeking data like that ever since.

So, to all Freakonomes, we send out a request: if you or someone you know has been keeping a database of poker hands played online — we need a really big one — we would love to analyze it. You will be contributing to science (if what we do is science), and more importantly, we are confident we can help you be a better poker player. Heck, we’ll even throw in a freakonomics t-shirt as well if we you can provide a data set we can use.

Also, if you run an online poker website or know someone who does, we would love to analyze the data from the website and in return we will deliver a proprietary algorithm for catching online poker cheats.