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Students play poker at SIG recruitment event

Susquehanna International Group, an international trading and investment firm, held a poker competition at Carnegie Mellon on Thursday in order to recruit students. Company representatives acted as dealers. (credit: Jonathan Carreon/Photo Editor) Susquehanna International Group, an international trading and investment firm, held a poker competition at Carnegie Mellon on Thursday in order to recruit students. Company representatives acted as dealers. (credit: Jonathan Carreon/Photo Editor)

Instead of a classroom, a poker hall could be found in room 6115 of the Gates Hillman Complex on Thursday night. Carnegie Mellon students were treated to a poker tournament and free dinner courtesy of Susquehanna International Group (SIG), an international trading and investment firm.

The company, which is based in Philadelphia, has run this event before at several other colleges and universities, but this was its first tournament at Carnegie Mellon. SIG runs events such as the poker tournament in order to recruit college students with skills in mathematics and risk management to work for them.

The competition consisted of 12-minute rounds of Texas Hold ’Em, with each contestant starting with $500 in chips. SIG employees in various departments sat as dealers at each of the tables.

At stake in the competition were several prizes, with the top three players receiving the latest iPad, an Xbox 360 with Kinect, and a Kindle Fire. Other players that made it to the later rounds received signed copies of a book about poker authored in part by Bill Chen, a quantitative analyst, the head of the statistical arbitrage group at SIG, and an accomplished World Series of Poker player.

“Poker is about making decisions based on incomplete information, which is also the world you trade in,” said Amy Lin, one of the employees who acted as a dealer.

According to Lin, poker is an important part of the corporate culture at SIG. “The founders played a lot, and options are a bit like poker,” Lin explained. “How much am I paying and what am I paying?”

SIG promotes a high degree of integration between both the technological and trading aspects of commodities, derivatives, and other trade options.

SIG recruiters said they were drawn to Carnegie Mellon because of the high concentration of technical skills and quantitative minds on campus.
Although competition was stiff, it was not hostile. Apoorv Khandelwal, a senior electrical and computer engineering major, was one of the first eliminated, with an Ace Jack Heart Flush to a King Queen Heart Flush.

Although he felt bad about losing so early in the tournament, Khandelwal said he felt the competition was a worthwhile event. “Not many companies have a poker event,” Khandelwal said. “I played some poker and learned a bit about the company.”