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.


Dr Zen said...

It's interesting that you say this, because I've been arguing for some time that the newer HUDs are too close to doing analysis. People argue that they display only stats that you've gathered yourself, but they don't just do that. They show the results of analysis of those stats. I'd like to see them banned. But I don't think they're going to be on Stars/Tilt, because the multitablers are generating a ton of rake and the fish don't complain about HUDs afaik.

microstakes bankroll builder said...

thats a very intelligent post. whilst i certainly confess to being frustrated against the short stacking, as you know, i think your point about hud details on the big sites is very interesting. i will need to think about it a bit more to get an angle on it.
is it cutting the "natural" players edge?
ways round this?
play at smaller sites?

Lorin Yelle said...

Sorry about the delay guys- I turned off my comment moderation and found that I was not getting emails when people left comments.

To address both of you: I think that newer generation HUDs present something of a frightening trend. If I were to take a gander, I would reckon that the big sites do NOT like them, nor do they like the direction they are headed in. But alas, they have painted themselves into a corner by allowing them in the first place. The problem now has evolved into a Cold War. Just think of what would happen if Tilt banned them tomorrow. They would immediately lose about 5,000 of their best customers as they scattered to Stars.

The first gen HUDs probably seemed harmless enough at the time and offered only slightly more than a player could gather on his own observational skills. As we all know, the newer ones go much, much deeper, and though both sites have banned the purchasing of HH's, there is effectively nothing they can do to stop their proliferation. as they are undetectable.

Does it cut a natural player's edge? Absolutely. Picture yourself going to a BM and sitting down with a bunch of fresh faces and the amount of hours it would take to get a bead on all of them. Now picture an identical scenario where you sit down and someone comes up with a steno book of notes on every single player and every hand they played in the past week. They know nothing about you, but you everything you need to know about them.

The biggest problem I have with these things is that they are paving the way for a legion of super intelligent bots that not only understand all of the data, but can zip through and combine stats and game theory on the fly to form an unbeatable edge.