Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Law of Unintended Consequences

We see this everywhere. A smoking ban in bars leads to more drunk driving deaths when people drive further to get to bar that has heated outdoor smoking areas. Obama's "Cash for Clunkers" program hurts the Demolition Derby sport by causing a drought of old vehicles that now going straight to the junkyard. Why should we care? Because all players who are upset by the short stack epidemic are witnessing this happening right now. The culprit? A powerful new generation of poker software that we all love and enjoy.

Many people have suggested that we raise the minimum buy in. I would like to point out, though, that the minimum buy in has always been 20BB pretty much across the board. Yet if you peel the layers back a little further, you will see that there only exists a short stack swarm at sites where the newer highly advanced HUD's are not only rampant, but encouraged. After all, the 20BB minimum buy in exists at the Cake Poker network as well, yet there are very few short stackers who exist there and none of them are particularly dangerous...because of the site wide ban on this software.

The highly detailed HUD's available through HEM and PT3 et al. paved the way for short stackers who can now slice through you with razor thin margins because of a huge list of very specific stats that can track your patterns of play from every single position at the table and can feed this information into advanced simulators on their free time like StoxEV that can measure their expected value down to the PENNY. Even if a player has never logged any hands against you, they can still purchase hand histories by the million and have a complete profile against you as soon as they wake up at noon.

So is this new generation of software aids the true danger to the game? I would wager a "yes" here. Even Kyle "Cottonseed" Hendon made a remark in one of his videos on Stox Poker that the HEM HUD is so good that it is almost like cheating. While the lines have blurred tremendously since their inception, it is certainly quickly reaching that point. Had you explained to an old time pro back in 1999 what people were doing now to the game they almost certainly would have called it such.

Saturday, September 12, 2009