Nov. 28th, 2008

peterbirks: (Default)
Conventional wisdom still has a solid hold in poker. People brought up in the live game still, in the main, have failed to cope with how different the online game has become. Added to that is the tendency for people to take the easy option of not trying to reinvent the wheel. But this can result in certain assumptions being transferred across to (or maintained within) online poker that need rethinking.

I like thinking about online poker without "bricks & mortar" preconceptions. What becomes totally different in the online world? Is this assumption necessarily correct?

I've been impressed so far with Moshman's Heads Up book. For a start it took him until page 41 before he made the standard linguistic error that usually (bot not invariably) contains a use of the words "probably" or "usually".

One of my bete-noires in poker is the general rule that, if you are being offered more than 10-to-1 pot odds, it is considered right to call. I know that it usually is right to call, but I'm with Stewart Reuben (who once famously folded to a fiver river bet into a multi-thousand pound pot). Do not be sirened by "big odds, only a small amount of money". If you've only a one in 50 chance of being right, odds of 20-to-1 are still crap.

Anyhoo, as it happens, I actually agree with Moshman's conclusion on page 41. I just disagree with the linguistics.

The Analysis runs:
We can only beat a bluff, and it is unlikely that Villain is bluffing. But we are getting over 12-to-1. If our Ace High is correct more than one time in 13, then this call is a chip winner. This strange river bet will probably be a bluff at least this often, so calling is correct.

Where Moshman goes wrong is with that ever-dangerous word "probably". Either he has to use it twice in the last sentence ("This strange river bet will probably be a bluff at least this often, so calling is probably correct.") or not at all ("This strange river bet will be a bluff at least this often, so calling is correct".)

This is not pedanticism. The move from "probably is" on one side to "[definitely] is" on the other is a logical error of progression that Moshman would not have made had the sentence been expressed mathematically rather than linguistically.

As it happens, I would call with the Ace-high like a shot there. But, as I say, I'm not talking about the example, but about the thought processes.


One area where I let my mind wander yesterday was into non-normal strategies in tournaments.

The question is this. Assume that you play only freezeout multi-table tournaments and you play 20 every evening (the practicalities of this aren't relevant -- it's just easier with a bigger number), starting five in hour one, five in hour two, and so on. These MTTs are Pokerstars style stacks and blind limits (four levels in the first hour).

Suppose that your average "life" in a tournament is two hours (is this true? darned if I know) and that your play deteriorates in quality when you are playing more than four tables at once.

To what extent would your EV increase or decrease if you chose to sit out the first 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes or hour of each tournament, choosing instead to play an extra one, two, three or four tournaments in the evening?

Put another way, suppose you mainly played cash, with an EV of $30 an hour. How much EV would you give up in a $50 tournament (where your average ROI is $80) if you sat out of the tournament for the first hour and played cash instead (assume, for the purposes of this argument, that you cannot play both simultaneously).

The closest example in real life you can get to this is in Las Vegas, where I discussed a similar matter with a dealer in the rebuy tournament in the (then) Aladdin. We both concluded that the best strategy in the tourney was probably to sit down at the end of the rebuy period of one hour (you can do so for your initial stake, so you haven't lost any blinds at all), and to add on immediately. This, in his terms, saves you an hour of pissing around.


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