Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Physicist Finishes 3rd at WSOP

I didn’t realize that Michael Binger, who recently finished 3rd in the WSOP main event and won $4.1 million, is a PhD physicist. Seed Magazine did, however, and they’ve got an interview with him online. Very cool. I know that Sean Carroll, cosmologist from the University of Chicago, plays poker as well.


  1. #1 Salvador T. Cordova
    September 14, 2006

    My former professor James Trefil plays poker (Trefil debated Dembski in 2005). He had lots of late night poker games with David Raup in Chicago a couple decades ago. Raup is also a skilled BlackJack player.

    I wonder if Sean Carroll and David Raup ever play poker against each other. I would bet on Raup (the paleontologist). No kidding. Trefil says Raup is really good.

    Almost all math majors I know took discrete math (Rosenhouse’s specialty). A large amount of the the course material teaches it through card games, dice, and coins. Supposedly a large amount of math theory was developed by mathematicians trying to improve their performance in gambling.

    Probably the greatest mathematician gambler was MIT professor Edward Thorpe who wrote Beat the Dealer. After his days in the casino, he went on to manage hedge funds with a related body of math. He retired with a net worth in the hundreds of millions.

    The current best mathematician gamblers would be James Grosjean and Stanford Wong. They are both professors, but in the casino world they are somewhat underground figures (go to casino’s disguesed or in low profile) since they ply their craft against casinos, not other gamblers….

    I think that must be a pretty cool life being a college professor during the week and a monster gambler on the weekend.


  2. #2 Sean Carroll
    September 14, 2006

    I don’t know David Raup, but I have no doubt he’d beat me if he’s any good; my poker is strictly Friday-night-with-friends level. (Although I’ve now moved to Caltech, so a multitude of poker rooms are in the area; perhaps I’ll have more chances to practice.) I did teach Paul Sereno how to play, however, and at this point I can still take him to school regularly.

    Also, one of my co-bloggers was actually on Michael Binger’s thesis committee:


  3. #3 David
    September 14, 2006

    Thanks for the spoiler. I watch he WSOP on ESPN and it’s delayed by some number of weeks.

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    September 14, 2006

    Hi Sean. I had no idea you’d gone to Caltech now, but since I’m still linking to your old blogspot blog on my links list, I guess that’s no surprise. I’m going to be out in the Bay area in November for a conference and hope to stay an extra day or two to play some cards.

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