Garden of forking paths – poker analogy

May 21, 2018
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(This article was originally published at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

[image of cats playing poker]

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes:

Just wanted to point out an analogy I noticed between the “garden of forking paths” concept as it relates to statistical significance testing and poker strategy (a game I’ve played as a hobby).

A big part of constructing a winning poker strategy nowadays is thinking about what one would have done had they been dealt a different hand. That is to say, to determine whether betting with 89hh in a certain situation is a “good play,” you should think about what you would have done with all the other hands you could have in this situation.

In contrast, many beginning players will instead only focus on their current hand and base their play on what they think the opponent will do.

This is a counterintuitive idea and it took the poker community a long time to think in a “garden of forking paths” way, even though Von Neumann used similar ideas to calculate the Nash equilibrium of simplified poker games a long time ago.

So I’m not too surprised that a lot of researchers seem to have difficulty grasping the garden of forking paths concept.

Excellent point. Statistics is hard, like knitting, basketball, and poker.

The post Garden of forking paths – poker analogy appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.



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