On Saturday I had an interesting conversation with Dave Zes, one of Brigid's classmates in the UCLA statistics department. We were having lunch after a hike and he asked me what department I was in.
"Oh, I'm not a student, I'm just here with Brigid."
"Oh, ok. So, what do you do?"
"Actually, I'm supporting myself by playing poker."
I've had this type of conversation dozens of times, with a wide range of responses. This was one of the more interesting ones.
"Oh, that's cool. My dad is a mathematician and knows a lot of those old time poker players," Dave told me. "Do you know of Chip Reese, Doyle Brunson? Those guys are like family friends. They have some really interesting stories." He went on to tell me that his dad had written some books on gaming and had contributed to some poker books. When I googled him just now it showed mostly just showed some technical math papers he had written. I didn't find much involving poker, but one thing I found is that he is mentioned in Doyle Brunson's original Super System, in the section on Lowball. The "expert" author of that section, Joey Hawthorne, says on page 185, "my draw expert, 'Crazy Mike' put me in touch with noted mathematician Dean Zes, who has probably done more work on the minimum standards of Ace-to-Five than anyone else." Despite the pedigree, Dave says he doesn't have the patience to play poker well himself.
This marks the second interesting poker-related connection involving UCLA statistics grad students. I guess it's pretty unlikely for anything to come of them, but it's cool nonetheless.