Sunday, October 23, 2005

John Stuart Mill

YTD: +$38362.83

Well it’s been awhile. I was going to write a polemic on the stupidity of poker site management and then low and behold, Party Poker finally did something right. Now I won’t trawl over dead news, but thankfully I did predict that this would be good for Party in private mails and I will buck the trend and say “publicly” that this will be a very successful move. 2+2 was interesting during this time. After the “apocalypse now” response, came the “well, they NEED us multitablers so everything will go back to normal” response. Uh huh. Maybe not. Although multi-ers do provide sizeable chunks of rake they also provide the anathema of online poker profitability – better than breakeven play. In fact often downright good play. As my dear friend Chaos has been saying for some time, and now the public nature of Party’s results clearly show, bad players burn fast. Widespread poker ineptitude is the management mantra. Let’s show those 2+2’ers the road!

Some other things that have caught my eye. A new poker magazine in the UK, completely aimed at the mainstream. Crap. So crap I actually put it in the garbage and pulled out my treasured Card Player Europe issues instead. And just today, in desperate search of poker content I found “Poker Player”, which has so many adverts that it makes Card Player look like the Bible in format. And content so bad even Paul Samuels at Poker Pages was shaking his head.

Anyway. The point of this particular missive was that I caught some interesting WPT shows the other night. The amusing Aviation one, where Surinder played like a meditator on valium. If Paris had undergone a thermonuclear attack by Martians, Tony G had revealed himself to be Beyonce and demanded instant sexual gratification, and the legs had fallen off the table, Surinder would have twitched, looked into the horizon and quietly said “call.” The very next show I saw was the Carlos Mortenson win. Incredibly, some great poker seems to have been played AND actually captured too. But in the aftermath I remembered that His Highness of Rightness, Paul Philips had commented on this show, so I dutifully looked it up. Putting aside his typical, easily denied if necessary, vague assertion of collusion, he was pretty damning about the amateur calling allin on Carlos with TT when David Pham basically had not even a blind left. There was $250,000 difference between 3rd and 2nd. Anyway, pretty sharpish the maths weenies came out of the woodwork and quite rightly showed that this wasn’t a bad call after all, and mathematically it was probably correct. So PP made a full and gracious retraction and apology and that was that. Heh :)

But something stuck in my craw here. It does STILL seem bad, doesn’t it? Regardless of the maths it just does not feel right. And this is the important, if there is one, idea today. There is maths and there is maths. And a little learning is dangerous thing. After those madcap world-ending guys finished inventing Game Theory, one of the problems they quickly faced was that their original view provided for a linear progression of outcomes. In plain speech, something with twice the value should be twice as important or give twice the satisfaction. But the real world doesn’t work that way. One million dollars is often much more than 10x one hundred thousand dollars in terms of value and impact. And being five times dead doesn't necessarily feel much worse than just once dead. (The term mathematician’s use for this is Utility, btw.)

And this was the choice facing our amateur friend. On the one hand was $250K, not insignificant by any measure, on the other $500k. For a student, and we were led to believe not a wealthy one, the opportunity deriving from the second figure is potentially massive. If you factored in utility into the equations, then the seemingly ok call was very, very bad indeed. And it also shows that sometimes you have to trust your gut over supposed “maths.”

13 comments:

Andy_Ward said...

"And this was the choice facing our amateur friend. On the one hand was $250K, not insignificant by any measure, on the other $500k. For a student, and we were led to believe not a wealthy one, the opportunity deriving from the second figure is potentially massive. If you factored in utility into the equations, then the seemingly ok call was very, very bad indeed. And it also shows that sometimes you have to trust your gut over supposed “maths.”"

Yes but what about the the utility of winning $1 million ? And the ancillary benefits of being a WPT champ ?

I must have commented on that myself on Phillips' blog. If I remember I said something like the maths was close but the additional benefits provided by winning probably made it a call.

Andy.

Aksu said...

Well,
when it comes to utilities, the usual case is that more is worth less. Of course there are exeptions, but I dont think that the TT example is one. Also as Andy pointed out, you left out the 1M first price.

If we use more typical utility assumption where 2 x Utility(250k) > Utility(500k) (there is a nice word for this but I simply dont remember it now), it could make a fold correct, and make your gut feeling right.

Little learning is a dangerous thing, indeed. But with this example I am learning about using utility in very unusual situation, and there is about 0.01% change that I ever find myself in similar spot (in a pokergame). Changes for me to missapply the concept are better.

Im not sure about the party not needing multitablers. After all they are offering 10tabling now.

I'll take your word that the new magazine is crap though ;-)

Aksu

Big Dave D said...

Andy/Aksu,

Makes sense to answer you jointly in this case.

I think the utility of a tournament win to Joe Public would make an interesting graph. Getting your money back or a small score seems, at least by payout structures, to be inordinately satisfying. After that, I suspect that the next peak is around the 80-250k mark where the money starts to have some serious impact beyond buying a car for the wife. The next jump would then be at the 500k-1.5m level, where the money can have lifelong impact. After 2m, I suspect its all jelly.

The key factor in this case was that doubling up was not going to hugely effect his chances of winning. He was still going to be a massive chip dog to Carlos. Also I think the ancillary benefits of winning one of these things is hugely overrated. Admittedly, I am not in the US but I suspect that overexposure and the luck factor finally becoming more apparent and stopping the "superstar" golf style element have quoshed such imaginings. Everyone and Uncle Tom Cobbley has won WPTs and WSOPs now.

I suspect for most people, Mike Matasow withstanding, that 250k is a some of money that has impact. But 500k is a mortgage paid for and is just on the cusp of change of life money.

dd

chaos said...

I agree it was a smart move by Party, I was a little surprised, though, to find that they were, supposedly, contemplating offering rakeback. You have to figure that their position is so strong, that they don't need to negotiate with us punters.


The value of Multi-Tablers:

An intersting question is when do multi-tablers/ (or players in general) become a liability to poker rooms? I guess the perfect player for party is one who breaks even - assuming he's not disheartened by failing to win & gives up - since everything he wins goes to party, and he's self sustaining.

Take a player that has a very marginal winrate and, incentives aside, you'll find there is now some downside for party, since the player is taking money out of cardroom. But clearly, the player is net gain for Party.

If you now move to a daft extreme and find a player who say takes in 20BB/100 hands, then evidently, this is not a player that they want since he breaks players/ kills games, reduces liquidity etc. So presumably, there is a winrate that a player can attain that transforms a player from being a benefit into a liability for the cardroom. Any guesses on the number? 1.5? 2?

10 tables: Not sure if this is good or bad for Party. On the dowside you have more good players/table, though they are also become less effective/unit table. Personally I don't like the move, mainly because for the most, 10 tables will be used by all those using poker tracker to create huge databases on players. This only serves to widen the gap further, and cause the bad players to burn out even quicker - not what party want. Now would it be a smart move for party to collect data on themselves and make the available to everyone? Would it narrow the gap? Maybe, but information is more than a bunch of numbers.

Utility: Don't blame the maths, it's not its fault that the anoraks assume the questions: 'What is the right decision'; & 'Which decision has the greatest expected return?' are interchangeable. Not only do equity calcualtions fail to take into consider utility, but skill too.

chaos

Andy_Ward said...

Dave,

I went back and had a look at the Phillips thread (yes I was bored). If hero had won the pot he would have had about 30% of the chips. I was also under the impression that "Kido" was a high-stakes cash player ?

However I entirely agree that the ancillary benefits of winning are much smaller now due to that over-exposure. Someone wrote an interesting article on Gutshot a while back saying that it was the players who were hot in 2003 (WPT I/II) who became the major "faces", most notably Goose Hinson, sorry Gus Hansen :-)

If it was all happening now people would be worshipping Michael Mizrachi and Gavin Smith, who are no doubt fine players but you see my point.

Andy.

Andy_Ward said...

I should also have said that it was much more likely that a few players would "repeat" in WPT I/II finals because the fields were much smaller.

Andy.

Aksu said...

oops,
I think I partly misunderstood the utility part of the original post. Basically we were talking about the same thing ...I think. srry.

Aksu

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Regarding the WPT hand, I think you are correct in saying that if you were that player it shouldn't have felt right at all and he should have folded. And even though calling might have given him a better chance at 1st place, the fact is that as an amateur he was out-matched and his first priority should have been to secure a higher playing place which folding would have done. That is the true utility factor here.

Regarding party, I do agree that anything done to harm the extreme multitablers is good for the base of players overall (I only play 3 at a time max), and effectively hurting them by eliminating skin rakebacker multitablers did that. But allowing 10 tabling really blows, not only for low limit limit games, but especially for all big bet games. How many fish get pissed after calling off their stack again and just want a change of players and lo and behold every table available has 90% of the same friggin weak-tights sitting there like bumps on a log waiting for a set. Lots I bet.

And the real driving goal in party's actions is just to steam poker money into crap like blackjack and idiot flop color bets, with other casino games coming later. Like I said on 2+2 and PB's blog, if they had only allowed you to use the same purse and switch in the lobby to those games, that would be similar to other sites that do that for casino games as well as sports bets. But putting those right on the table blows hard.

BTW, I've seen you posting some in the NL forum and assume you are looking into playing that more. I think that is wise and seem to be playing a lot more nl myself these days than plo. Long term online, I think it is clear that there are a ton more players in nl and that they steadily move up a gentle progression until they find the level they dump big at (good for us on big tables :) ). But with plo on party especially, the games between 400 and 2K are few and far between so you really are depending on players who have big bucks just moving into the highest limits. Same for UB. Even stars often just jumps between 2/4 and 10/20 blind levels with occasional 3/6 and 5/10 available but more often than party.

If a euro but non-UK based (so as to allow american and german players) poker site really would market aggressively and get big, then that would be the best for plo long term. If Ladbrokes would let another non-UK euro company come in as a skin, and that skin signed up US/German players, then Lads could say they didn't know where those players lived as a way around the thing.

Anyway, glad your results continue to improve and good luck/skill in NL land.

BluffTHIS!

Big Dave D said...

Hi Bluff

I guess I made a decision as to whether winning $ or having fun was more important to me. $ won. Although surprisingly, I am having some kind of fun playing NLHE, although its a world away from PLO. The other thing that struck me was that even though there are terible players at PLO, even the very worst have some chance and lots are just ok. From my limited experience so far playing NL the dynamic seems different. A lot of very mediocore players. Lots of tight weak. Several clueless maniacs. And only a few very dangerous types. (Albeit only up to 5-10 in ring and 3-6 6 max sofar.)

And I think the advice on 2+2 is sometimes just awful. Now clearly as a PLO guy I am a gamblooor, as some of my mad lines I posted there showed. But some advice is so weak tight as to be sickening. Incredible tosee people advocating a pass in the hand here:

http://tinyurl.com/bynge

yuck.

gl

dd

Anonymous said...

Dave,

I think that your analysis of the differing makeups of higher stakes plo and nl tables is accurate, and in fact lots of nl tables would have even more weak-tighties. The thing that makes plo a good game is precisely because mediocre players can hit so many draws and win big which keeps them coming back.

Regarding that hand of nl you gave a url on, I did agree with the posters who said push or fold, and against that particular player it would probably be push simply because he could have a wider range of hands. But so many of those tables are full of weak-tights just playing pairs and AK that when you get called or minraised and have AA, you are being slowplayed by a set. Many of those supposedly weak-tight players though since they don't play hardly any hands can't fold AA/KK so if you hit a set or two pair with a suited connector, especially on a flop with a flush draw, you can often just push and break them since they won't fold. I really would be willing to trade all my AA/KKs for no gap suited connectors in those games, because I agree 100% with doyle's statement in SS that you will mostly either win a small pot or lose a big one with them when you don't hit a set.

Of course you can use their weak-tightness to steal lots of pots too. They raise with AK and miss and you call behind with some crap draw and brick comes turn and they check and give you the greenlight. A more rarely used move but a good one that I wouldn't mention on 2+2 is with same type of draw but out of position and same situation and now you bet in front on turn and often watch them fold. If they call they have an overpair and if you've got big stones you can just push the river to try to get rid of all but the most stubborn. It is necessary to play with them several sessions first though so that you know who will fold an overpair and who won't.

BluffTHIS!

Big Dave D said...

Hi Bluff

Late reply....

I havent seen much evidence of big pair passing at 5-10 and below. Tight weak dumb has been the password. The lack of gamble is some spots has been obscene. The thing about the hand I linked is that the AA raises, which looked like an isolation raise, bet the flop, which looked like a continuation bet, then checked the turn. Passing here to anyone but a rock is madness. His hand is just not defined beyond "good" and its not impossible that his foe has as little as one pair or a draw. And yet some 2+2ers were saying its an easy pass!!!

gl

Dave

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

The reason so many of them argue a pass of AA in those situations, is that on a table full of set farmers, the most likely hand you are often up against is a set or two pair made via a suited connector. And those type of set farmers just aren't paying off with an overpair to a rag board holding JJ that failed to make a set vs. a preflop raiser's AA. There is of course an exception or two on those tight tables (which shouldn't be played on really). Now at 5/10 6-max it's a different story. There they are not just not laying down AA, they are raising sets and two pair.

BluffTHIS!

Anonymous said...

Are things finally changing? After a couple of weeks of teasing it appeared from my contact at rakeback.com that Party are not going to go the rakeback route. Some affiliates, he claimed, are offering under the counter offers to players and are getting their accounts closed.

Maybe other sites are seeing party's steadfast postion as an opportunity. I saw this today

http://www.stanjames.com/poker/

it's only until the end of the year, but hopefully it's a sign of things to come.

chaos