From physics to probabilities: Pokerstars' Liv Boeree

Uploaded by InstituteofPhysics on 03.10.2012

I guess to describe myself in a nutshell. I am a first and foremost a poker player, I am also a TV presenter, I love to play heavy metal guitar, I am nature lover and I am a former physicist. I studied physics with astrophysics at the University of Manchester
Liv's competitor: Wow, she played that like a girl
Commentator: That's how you play pocket jacks Lon
Liv: I got paid like a girl
I started playing poker about 7 years ago
And probably took it a little bit more seriously from 2009 onwards
and in 2010 I had my really big breakthrough I won the European Poker Tour in San Remo for 1.25 million euros
So that was a rather nice start to the year, some of my other titles: I was European Ladies Champion in 2008
I've won some online tournaments and so on
And the beauty of doing physics as a degree is that it doesn't mean you have to become a physicist, you don't have to become a research scientist and yet the training that I got from physics. The way it has taught my mind to think it has enabled me to go into such an analytical game as poker
It's incredibly useful. People always ask me. You did this amazing degree why are you wasting it playing poker? And I, my answer is how dare you? I am not wasting my degree in the slightest
It's what enables me to be a fantastic poker player. Poker is a game about making incredibly complex decisions in a short period of time under a lot of pressure. With so many variables and bits of information that you have to filter through to make the correct decision. Well, that's what physics is all about and that's what helps me now when playing on the table for millions of dollars
So many really successful poker players actually have a background in physics. One of my best friends who is one of the most successful poker players of all time he has a PhD in physics from Stamford
I did a core physics degree with the usual subject quantum, particle any of the option courses I did were the Astro ones for example cosmology, stellar physics and so on
I actually loved all the different facets of physics
I was very lucky in my third year I got to go to Jodrell Bank and work with the 7 metre radio telescope measuring the hydrogen lines, the 21cm hydrogen line
which enabled us to plot the rotational curve of the Milky Way
And as such determine the mass of it. Essentially weighing our galaxy which is mind blowing. And even prove the existence of dark matter. Which was, I don't know, so cool for a third year student to be able to do that and actually see, produce these results and see it. Calculate it yourself. A huge sense of achievement which I really enjoyed
Girls might be a minority but I have always really enjoyed being a minority in whatever subject I am doing
I am a minority in poker, I have been a minority in physics, I've been a minority in playing heavy metal guitar
but all of those things actually work in your favour girls. You'll sort of stick out more and it can often give you a little leg up whatever it may be
I certainly wouldn't have got the attention that I've gotten in poker had I not been female
And there's absolutely no reason why us girls can't kick a** at whatever subject we choose to do
And it would make me so happy to see more girls studying physics, winning Nobel prizes being the next Einstein. There is no reason why the next Einstein can't be female
Commentator: The river is blank. Liv Boeree has done it. Jacob Carlsson is the runner up. Liv Boeree is the champion of EPT San Remo