Sunday, June 20, 2004

And Now for Something Completely Different

YTD: +$21461.42

We’ve been getting some great feedback so far, especially on my plo8b hand. But I’m going to park that one for a while and pick up on my thought processes and some general plo8b ideas on my next post. BTW, as some have been interested, I’m currently multi-tabling 15-30 limit holdem on a Party skin, and playing plo8b on Stars when a game 2-4 blinds or bigger is running.

Here is today’s post, which was a debate on rgp whether taking money of the table, sometimes called ratholing, slotting or weeding, should be allowed in big bet games. I came down real strong on this and no-one agreed with me at the time. I still mostly feel I was on track here, although I think my conclusion that stopping the practice, because it hurts good players, would hurt the longevity of the game is way off mark – if anything, reducing the huge advantage that strong players have over the weak in big bet poker could actually be “good for the game”.

“When I said ratholing was bad I was explicitly referring to potlimit and no limit games. If you don't see that I suspect you don't play a lot of big bet poker. You ask if a player takes money off the table he has increased his EV. Although I am not comfortable with the concept of EV in big bet poker (bbp), I would say that if he was a bad player then YES he had increased his winning chances. IMHO, here's why:

As stack sizes increase in live bbp the complexity of the game shoots through the roof. This is why so many tourney players, even bbp ones, struggle in the cash equivalents. Just to take a simple example, in a headsup Omaha pot, calling a £30 bet preflop could result, if you go to the river, calling a £810 bet on the river - and that's with no raising! This creates much more complex situations than the typical limit situation, where gaining and saving bets are the more common dilemma. This means that good players have to be able to play big fact knowing how to manipulate pots in relation to stack sizes is a very key skill in bbp.

Basically you have to play your cards, knowing that every penny in front of you is in potential jeopardy in any one hand. So if you accept this empirical principle then it is clear that it is in the bad player's interest to have less money on the table. Anyone who has played any degree of bbp will recognise that bad players almost unconsciously understand this, as they try and "slot" money off the table to secure their win.

Some other common mistakes that happen when bad players have big stacks you could term "no fear" and "too much fear". In the first case, because they have so much money in front of them the player starts to call bets he should be passing, simply because the size of
the bet has lost meaning. I once saw a guy leak away £500-600 in a £2 blind bbp game simply because he had sat down with a couple of grand, his blackjack winnings, and he kept on calling the bets because they now meant much less to him (this was way out of proportion for how he would normally play as he is a tight passive player.)

The flip side of this, "too much fear" is when the player "realises" that he suddenly has a fair size of money in front of him and it may be in jeopardy, especially if there are other good players who have similarly large stacks. He then starts to pass when he should call, call when he should raise. In fact sometimes it is good to recognise this and simply leave the table, which I have done at the start of my poker playing when I knew that I couldn't play a big stack well and other, perhaps better opponents had me covered.

This all sounds a bit shark vs. fish, but unfortunately this is very much exacerbated in bbp. I suspect that if you allowed players to rathole in bbp, then the games would perhaps die out, because the pros, who unfortunately are necessary to keep these fragile games running, would start to have much worse results. And the skill element would fall through the floor. If you want to protect bad players, then limiting the maximum size of buyins such as online sites do is perhaps a better option. Perhaps comparing it to cheating is a bit harsh, but I did say the nearest thing. And if you view cheating as affecting the result of the game through replacing skill and luck with artificial means, than ratholing is pretty bad in bbp.”


Anonymous said...

Very interesting so far Dave, and if you continue to post PLO8 tips/theory, I'll definately be back! I've read a lot of your advice on 2+2 and would like to hear your extended thoughts on the game.

Anonymous said...

I've never played in games that allowed voluntary ratholing, but have played in some that had mandatory ratholing. In other words, there was a maximum amount that could be kept on the table. The intention was to protect the fish by limiting the amount they could lose in a single hand. It never served this purpose because players bent on losing money will always find a way to do so.

What it Did do was create more varience, as the players could get all of, or a larger percentage of, their stacks in the pot earlier in the play of the hand. I disliked it immensely. Why learn to play correctly on 4th and 5th streets if your money is in before or on the flop?

It seems their are better ways to address this; half-pot limit, spread limit, limit, larger blind to buy-in ratios, etc. I'm against anything that reduces the skill of the game. It took me such a long time to grasp the nuances of playing big stacks that I hate to see it go out the window...

Phat Mack

ytd $4.63