When arithmetic lecturer Gene Kim turned a $15 day by day fantasy sports activities (DFS) lineup right into a $50,000 win in April, it might not be his final victory of the yr — Kim launched a brand new introductory seminar (IntroSem), MATH 77Q: “Likelihood and Playing” through the fall quarter.
Kim mentioned he had “large enjoyable” instructing the course, which he referred to as a “big success.”
Kim was not the one one enthusiastic in regards to the IntroSem. By the sign-up deadline, Kim had obtained 60 pupil functions, “among the many highest ever for an IntroSem,” he mentioned. The excessive curiosity allowed him to persuade the College to lift the enrollment cap from 16 to 18 college students.
Every week, Kim launched a brand new on line casino recreation that required likelihood calculations extra advanced than the final. For the primary hour and a half of the IntroSem, he usually defined the idea and calculations concerned, saving the final 30 to 40 minutes for rounds of simulated video games with pretend cash.
Vivian Shay ’24, who beforehand had Kim as her teacher for MATH 51: “Linear Algebra, Multivariable Calculus, and Fashionable Purposes,” made a few of her favourite recollections through the latter half of the IntroSem, recounting a time when Kim dealt her pocket aces — the strongest hand in poker.
“It has lower than a half % likelihood of taking place, and I ended up going all in and successful with a full home, and I tripled my cash,” she mentioned.
The course began off with roulette, adopted by craps, baccarat, blackjack and poker. The IntroSem additionally had a selected give attention to DFS, a sort of fantasy sports activities betting that’s authorized in California. Regardless of it being the primary introduction to DFS for a lot of the college students, many mentioned they loved listening to the visitor audio system Kim had invited, together with sports activities betting analyst Rayen “rynpak” Patnaik.
By way of IntroSems Plus, a program meant to create analysis and mentorship alternatives for college students who’ve accomplished an IntroSem, Kim gave three college students the chance to proceed their work. Riley Carlson ’24, a symbolic techniques main, mentioned she plans to use her probabilistic data of DFS to an unbiased research by means of IntroSems Plus within the winter quarter.
After noticing a scarcity of ladies’s sports activities illustration in DFS projection websites, Carlson mentioned, she goals to create her personal projection web site for ladies’s basketball by working a large-scale simulation on the game.
The scholars mentioned they felt that the course ideas, corresponding to enjoying kinds and payout for various palms, have been relevant to the video games they performed exterior of sophistication. However video games of probability stay unpredictable even after making use of statistical data — solely including extra thrill to the sport.
“I feel getting higher at it’s arduous as a result of a lot of it’s left to probability, however you do perceive it higher and get extra of an instinct — a gambler’s instinct if you’ll,” Shay mentioned.
For Kim, who has been enjoying DFS since 2014, probabilistic fashions have at all times been a instrument to assist him acquire the higher hand.
“My factor is all about utilizing likelihood and statistics to establish undervalued gamers,” he mentioned. “My edge in one of these sports activities playing comes from figuring out and mathematically quantifying how massive and the way exploitable my edge is.”
Although playing usually has a detrimental connotation, Kim shared that in the end selections in life, together with playing, are likelihood computations at their very core.
“It’s all about [doing] the likelihood calculations and doing all of the doable outcomes and selecting your most fascinating/most fascinating inside the danger that you simply’re keen to tolerate,” he mentioned.
The subsequent alternative to enroll within the IntroSem can be within the fall quarter of the subsequent tutorial yr.
“Everyone form of is aware of that [Kim’s] bought this humorousness, and he’s very laid-back,” mentioned Ori Spector ’24. “However, he’s actually good at molding the ideas, so I feel it’s an ideal class. I might inform any of my associates to take the category in a heartbeat, or at the very least apply for it.”