Saturday, August 20, 2005

Philosophizing with Double-Double

Eric (aka E-dub, aka Double-Double) always has sound logic, and responded to my post on online play:
Here's my feedback:

overall pretty well written. I think you contradict yourself in a few places though. The most obvious example of this is when you make the following claims:

"I fear that online poker will eventually become an information war, where the best-armed shark will win - and skill becomes a secondary factor."

"Suppose I share my online account with a friend. That's the ultimate and most simple way to throw off the online poker information warlords... The statistics are rendered moot."

Which is it? If there's a simple way to throw off the data-miners, then the game should not turn into a purely mathematical exercise and players will be forced to watch the individual hands and figure out who they are playing.

I also disagree with some of the points you are making, although your arguments for them are well written. Fundamentally, this statement:

"THOUGHT and REASONING are being removed from the game and being replaced with pure data, math and statistics. Finesse is being replaced with force: data force."

You seem to argue that as players get more information, the game becomes purely a mathematical exercise, and this is bad. I would argue though that poker IS FUNDAMENTALLY a mathematical exercise, and that this trend online, far from being some kind of not-real-poker degenerate case, is simply revealing poker for what it truly is. As you get better at poker, you see it more and more as a solvable problem, just like blackjack, one where a good player must study game theory rather than starting hands.

Further, I would argue that this more mathematical and studied game takes more skill to beat, not less. The next level of skills are of a different kind than you may be used to in low limit B&M play, and perhaps you don't find them fun. Then again, what would you say if one of the fish in your game said to you "you know, in MY home game, everybody plays everything. I don't like this trend toward TIGHT play where guys are folding A5 UTG and stuff. It makes the game more mechanical. In MY game, we play everything, and that gets in more interesting spots. The PS 10/20 is not true poker." You'd laugh him out of the room.

The more information you have, the closer the game becomes to poker at
it's finest.
I replied:
I disagree, because:
the game you describe can be easily beaten by a computer... In fact, I still think it would be an AWESOME exercise if we coded it - nevermind the lack of interface-ability, I think you get my point. I do NOT think that is poker.. THAT is math... If a script could look up the proper mathematical play based on the statistics and hand histories, I don't see how you can claim that's TRUE POKER, or POKER AT ITS FINEST. Still, one of the most interesting things about the way YOU analyze hands is that you try to analyze them like a computer - which I'm trying to figure out how to relate to my claims... I guess the point is that you are doing exactly what I claim the data miners do: trying to make the mathematically pareto-efficient decision based on everything you know about your opponent's playing habits. I feel that when you are doing this live, with your OWN BRAIN, THAT is real poker... When you're doing it with Pokeredge, Pokertracker, or a spreadsheet, that's crap... I guess that's the essence of my point.
As for my point about sharing accounts contradicting myself, you are right - I guess it does - I was kinda using it to illustrate another potential pitfall - and I do NOT think that people are watching the play to try to figure out "who is playing" - the point is that its another form of cheating which skews data.
Why is Phil Ivey so good? He says flat out he's not a math guy... He's a people person... you are one of the first people I've ever heard try to claim that poker at its finest is pure math... Almost everyone says the opposite I think: the cards don't matter... It's a people game... I'd guess you'd counter this argument by saying "if you're playing against me your cards BETTER matter, because I, the Human Learning Computer, will take emotion and fear out of the equation." but people can't do that.. And THAT is the essence of poker.
until next time,

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