Bluffing brothers are two of a kind

May 23, 2003

"Feeling lucky, Jim?" David Leigh's question was more loaded than a gentle inquiry as to his brother's frame of mind and inclination to gamble.

It was a ploy: an opening jab in psychological warfare as the chips began to fly in the inaugural Oxford versus Cambridge poker challenge.

As Lady Luck would have it, David, a quantum computing PhD student at Wolfson College, Oxford, was drawn to take on his younger brother James, an engineering student at Robinson College, Cambridge, in the first round of this heads-up tournament in London.

Members of the first team to win 13 games, aside from lifting a handsome trophy, would each receive £200 in their online poker cardroom account with sponsors Victor Chandler: a sum they could either pocket or work up to something more in future games.

Players and organisers agreed that the pursuit of cash was not the only reason poker was an appropriate pastime for students.

Professional player Jon Shoreman said: "I would expect students to excel at the game - it requires thinking at many levels."

Cambridge captain Dylan Murphy said he had used game theory as applied to poker on his economics course at Magdalene College. "There is enough in the game to be worthy of analysis in a PhD thesis," he said.

But to the brothers Leigh something else was at stake - evening the score.

As James sat motionless awaiting a response to his bet, he may have thought back to poker lessons from his brother at home. Before the game, he said:

"When my brother started taking money from me I decided to learn properly so I could take it back. He knows how I play, so I am going to play differently today."

On this hand it paid off - David folded his cards to a bluff.

But perhaps the "feeling lucky?" quip unbalanced James more than he realised, as he subsequently lost his stack of chips to David.

Despite the defeat, Cambridge went on to celebrate a 13-11 victory. The results left Oxford players with one eternal poker phrase in mind: "Read 'em and weep."

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