Math, Robots, Stupidity: JCW, ChipTrader, Doug Hull - a Debate on this Forum

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  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 899 ✭✭✭
    edited May 2016
    zagarese wrote: »
    Would I be correct in thinking that Tal played at a time when _no_one_ played GTO or, more accurately, thought to play GTO.

    In other words, isn't GTO not actually relevant to a discussion of play at the time?

    I don't want to get too deeply into this, but Botvinnik, the man who Tal defeated for the World Championship, and who defeated Tal in turn was an electrical engineer and an early computer engineer. He was very familiar with Game Theory concepts developed by von Neumann and information theory mathematics developed by Shannon.

    But if we think this through we can realize why Game Theory is not as relevant to Chess as it is to other sorts of games. Game Theory, early on developed the idea of the "Information Set." To be brief this is the set of all possible moves that could have taken place in a players particular moves in the game. If the game is truly a game of perfect information then the set is reduced to 1.

    The fact is, no matter what other's say chess is not really a game of perfect information. So there are some game theory optimal choices to be made in regards to planning and countering the unknown plans of your opponent. (Opening choices, opening strategy leading into the middle game, surprise moves, especially what might be called psychologically surprising moves.) Now days many of those choices are made off-the-board through computer analysis and statistical analysis of your opponents game.

    When a chess player can establish an imbalance of information vis-a-vis her opponent then I think she has established a situation where "the deep psychology" of game theory is relevant. (Read the phrase "deep psychology" with a bit of salt.) I can present many examples of this in modern chess but a famous one is the 6th game in the 1972 match between Spassky and Fischer. Fischer knew that if he entered the Queens Gambit through opening 1.c4, Spassky would always play a particular opening variation. He knew exactly how Spassky would play and plan his moves and this gave him an information edge.

    Such play is relevant to game theory but not exactly on-point.

    If you will notice lack of information between "the players" is usually the point where most game theory thought experiments begin. You gain information through playing the player.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 899 ✭✭✭
    TheGameKat wrote: »

    Specifically, I'd be very interested if you could expand a bit on the sort of psychological developments in chess that have outstripped those in poker.

    ....On more than one occasion a precocious student would tell me that they wanted to play like Tal. I encouraged such a goal, but emphasized that in order to do so it would be a good idea to work on calculation.

    I want to deal with your questions here. There is a little indication of my answers in other posts, especially in the post on candidate moves in this thread.

    Also in chess I would like make a distinction between calculation and visualization. Often Tal was able to visualize pretty quickly, various resulting positions of his sacrifices without knowing how exactly to work out the many variations that would lead to these end points. As far as chess psychology is concerned I have always found this interesting.
    TheGameKat wrote: »
    Talking of Tal...

    If you throw some of his sacrifices at an engine it will huffily spit back an evaluation of -1.80 indicating the move is unsound. However, Tal won the game. If I'm following Berkey correctly, we can think of the engine as giving the GTO play and Tal deviating in part because he knows the move creates such psychological pressure that it gives great practical chances for a win. In other words, good poker players make exploitative and thus exploitable plays all the time.

    There is also something very curious about the kind of brute force algorithms that computers used circa 2000. Often they would rate a sacrifice as -1.6 or something but once you started force feeding moves into them the evaluations would wildly go up and down. I remember analyzing Kasparov's double rook sacrifice against Topalov and having this happen, as well as with many games of Tal's. And this happened on every single chess engine I would use.

    But this is just higher level gossip. I do want to get back to your questions when I have the time.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 5,003 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2016
    Interesting discussion about chess and making "-EV" moves for lack of a better phrase. When someone brings up chess in a poker context on forums, it's usually to make the comment that "...but chess is different because it's a game of complete information." I disagree with that. Not that chess information isn't technically "complete" in theory, but that it's really relevant in practice. Since no one can play a perfect game of chess (as far as we know), then no one can really make use of all that info anyway. Therefore, bluffing *is* possible in chess. (The difference is that in chess they hopefully *don't* know you're bluffing, while in poker they *can't* know you're bluffing.) Taking the game in a direction that makes your opponent uncomfortable and likely to make mistakes *is* possible. etc. etc. In other words, it's much more similar to poker than people seem to think.

    edit: I was writing at the same time Imperator was, didn't see his post until I was done :-)
  • KemahPhilKemahPhil Red Chipper Posts: 108 ✭✭
    I think that there is also a distinction in poker between calculation and visualization. Just like in chess the "correct" move is not always the best move for a given situation.

    Many players have a difficult time making the transition from on line poker to live poker for this exact reason. Calculation is king in on line poker especially with all of the tools available to assist in those calculations. In live poker, visualization or "feel" has more of an impact since it involves, among other things, reading your opponents and reacting to their demeanor.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 899 ✭✭✭
    edited May 2016
    Why is the history of chess relevant to poker?

    The answers:

    Because chess has used computer software and a long recorded history of the game to develop higher and higher levels of mastery.

    Because cognitive scientists have studied how chess players think. Cognitive scientists have distinguished time and time again between the kind of thinking performed by Grandmasters as distinguished from the kind of thinking performed by patzers like me. We have some good notions of how various levels of players "think in chess."

    Because chess players and chess coaches themselves have developed a long pedagogical history of training talented young players and developing their potential.

    Because chess has a database going back hundreds of years.

    Because chess computer specialists have developed many types of database programs and chess engines where we can test chess moves and research our opponents.

    I could go on. But when poker draws this kind of interest (and it should, because there is more money in poker than in chess) then I will say that poker is reaching for the kind of mastery and expertise that began in chess as early as the 1920's.

    For instance:
    On television, at least, poker is a game of complete information. Why has no one collected all of this information into a single datatbase?

    Why have we not done our own detailed research of how people "think in poker." The research I'm aware of is at a very low level. I remember Hull once did a series on "how weak players think." This kind of stuff has been researched in detail in chess.

    Poker coaches should write more about their training techniques. My feeling is that they want to play their techniques close to the chest for the same reason that they never want to show their hole cards -- information is king. But in this case the lack of information slows down poker development. It seems to me that the "coaches" who talk about training techniques most in poker are the ones who deal with the psychological side.

    What is exciting about this site is that for the most part I can "watch" SplitSuit's training techniques and Doug Hull's training techniques, etc. I cannot make a detailed comparison of results but in theory this would be possible.
  • Ruxton_AtheistRuxton_Atheist Red Chipper Posts: 152 ✭✭✭
    Imperator wrote: »
    It is the psychological aspects of the game that allows us to employ the tool-box in real time.
    Impediments to this manifestation, that which restricts and inhibits this employment, is tilt Imperator style. Took you a week, but thank you for answering my question. (:

  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    Sorry for resurrecting an old thread (but this one is soooo good!) and sorry if I repeat something I've missed in said old/LONG thread -- but would it be fair to summarize this thread as such:

    If being the "best poker player" is the end all and be all of your poker career, then you need to play against and beat the top players in the game.

    But if making money at poker is the end all and be all of your poker career, then you need to play against and beat the worst players in the game.

    I think THAT is a pretty dramatic ,stark difference. Maybe it's as simple as the skill of table selection but it is something I've thought of -- why go to Vegas for WSOP when all the (in theory) best players will be there, if money is the number 1 motivator to playing.

    Or maybe it's a balance between the two - the money is in Vegas during WSOP but so are all the best players, so being the best of the best players means knowing how to avoid the best players while also scooping up the maximum amount of money?
  • Adam WheelerAdam Wheeler Red Chipper Posts: 2,659 ✭✭✭✭
    I printed this god damn thread. Yeah...Printed !
  • eugeniusjreugeniusjr Red Chipper Posts: 427 ✭✭✭
    I too read this recently. Beautiful thread.

    Experience and modelling are primary ways we learn. Our learning is superior when we face, and see, better competition.

    We make more money in the long run by playing better players.
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    eugeniusjr wrote: »
    We make more money in the long run by playing better players.

    Interesting. So short term we want to play the best because long term we can play anyone, including those with the most money?

  • RCP Coach - Fausto ValdezRCP Coach - Fausto Valdez RCP Coach Posts: 859 ✭✭✭✭
    eugeniusjr wrote: »
    We make more money in the long run by playing better players.

    Interesting. So short term we want to play the best because long term we can play anyone, including those with the most money?

    Yes
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  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    So even though we'll likely lose money in the short term by playing in games we probably won't win, we'll look at it as an investment because we'll learn and observe and get better...
  • RCP Coach - Fausto ValdezRCP Coach - Fausto Valdez RCP Coach Posts: 859 ✭✭✭✭
    So even though we'll likely lose money in the short term by playing in games we probably won't win, we'll look at it as an investment because we'll learn and observe and get better...

    Yes x2 ... better players will bring out ure flaws mentally and strategically, if ure self observant u could use that knowledge and work on turning ure weakness into strengths
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  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper Posts: 4,323 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Epic thread. Ave Imperator, lusuri te saluant.
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    It's crazy how high quality this thread was. Like pages of good stuff. A little intimidated, to be honest. One of those shut up and read moments...
  • Adam WheelerAdam Wheeler Red Chipper Posts: 2,659 ✭✭✭✭
    I would pay for thread like this.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 899 ✭✭✭
    I have some late night and early morning thoughts on thisI have some late night and early morning thoughts on this thread.

    Currently I'm on one of the trails in the Grand Canyon with spotty cell connection and no internet. When I get back to Vegas or find usable internet I will add my thoughts.

    For now let me say I'm working on a book project I'm on poker and philosophy.

    Reflecting on this thread I see how it has shaped my own attitude to poker and has helped me to strive to be the kind of player I posit as an ideal.

    And yet... I think for me now the core of the thread is the post on the nature of the poker economy and the difference between our choice to play and those who work in the economy of life and limb with limited choices.

    I know now that what I was doing more than anything else in these posts was trying to explain why I play.


  • Adam WheelerAdam Wheeler Red Chipper Posts: 2,659 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2017
    Imperator wrote:
    What was the real poker game? The $5-$10-$20 games that were no fun, that they played for business purposes, or the Nickle-Dime-Quarter games that they loved and talked about and strategized over constantly, the whole week until the next game? It was obvious to me that they cared more about the competition and winning and losing at the game that cost them no money than they did at the game that was played for a lot of money. Why? Mostly because it gave them bragging rights.

    They had fun playing the game. How often to this day I heard veterans hockey players says in interview about big games, when everything is on the line;

    - Journalist "How do you prepare youngers guys for that game ?"

    - Veteran Player "We just told them to have fun, enjoy the moment."

    When there is no fun, it's not a game anymore.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 5,003 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Yeah. I remember reading Little Red Book by the legendary golf teacher Harvey Penick. An anecdote went something like this: He was ending a session with a young LPGA player before a tournament round, and she said, "Well, I have to go play now." He said, "No, you get to go play now."
  • NYCRyNYCRy Red Chipper Posts: 336 ✭✭✭
    Sorry for resurrecting an old thread (but this one is soooo good!) and sorry if I repeat something I've missed in said old/LONG thread -- but would it be fair to summarize this thread as such:

    If being the "best poker player" is the end all and be all of your poker career, then you need to play against and beat the top players in the game.

    But if making money at poker is the end all and be all of your poker career, then you need to play against and beat the worst players in the game.

    I think THAT is a pretty dramatic ,stark difference. Maybe it's as simple as the skill of table selection but it is something I've thought of -- why go to Vegas for WSOP when all the (in theory) best players will be there, if money is the number 1 motivator to playing.

    Or maybe it's a balance between the two - the money is in Vegas during WSOP but so are all the best players, so being the best of the best players means knowing how to avoid the best players while also scooping up the maximum amount of money?

    This thread is phenomenal. Just to add a little to your summary. Everyone's poker situation is different. No one's viewpoint or strategy is "wrong" if they are true to themselves and what they want out of poker. Bill Perkins, Joey Knish and Tom Dwan are all probably doing it right. I love the Soto/S4Y philosophy of self reflection and thinking differently about the game. Seems to be how you get past small time grinder to big time crusher. I think your Vegas examples above are the micro when this thread is all about the Macro. You mentioned money being a motivator. I think for most people the love of the game is the #1 motivator for playing. But everyone deals with the money aspect differently. You have a very small percentage of players(who usually happen to be the best, but not always) who seem to have a complete disregard for money and who have gone broke numerous times over the years. Then at the other end of the spectrum you have bankroll nits who always have 100bi in their bankroll and don't advance their game fast enough, if ever. There was some back and forth in this thread about whether poker is actually about the money or not and I don't think that really got settled. Imperator and Berkey were saying its not about the money and Soto was saying it has to be partly about the money because we don't live in a vacuum. The guys today that play the nosebleeds didn't get there by using strict bankroll management and just working their way up the ranks. There is a massive scarcity of games after 5/10NL and at some point to get to an elite level you will have to be playing in games you are are not rolled for and that are out of your comfort zone.

    Its cool to see such intelligent discussion happening about this stuff. A course at MIT is certainly a positive thing for poker!
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 5,003 ✭✭✭✭✭
    For me personally, the distinction between money and "love of the game" is strongest between poker and golf. Most of my poker friends can't play golf without gambling. I play golf just for the love of the game. I'd be happy to play with pros or anyone better than me and have the highest score in my foursome, as long as we were playing the game well. On the other hand, if I were not winning money at poker, I wouldn't play (or at least temporarily losing for longer term winning.) I would never play for the love of the game if it meant I'd lose money.
  • NYCRyNYCRy Red Chipper Posts: 336 ✭✭✭
    jeffnc wrote: »
    For me personally, the distinction between money and "love of the game" is strongest between poker and golf. Most of my poker friends can't play golf without gambling. I play golf just for the love of the game. I'd be happy to play with pros or anyone better than me and have the highest score in my foursome, as long as we were playing the game well. On the other hand, if I were not winning money at poker, I wouldn't play (or at least temporarily losing for longer term winning.) I would never play for the love of the game if it meant I'd lose money.

    I think this is what a lot of the back and forth about money was about. I think of it more in terms of a reward. We play sports/games for the thrill of competition and you get something tangible out of it when its over. Your reward for playing good golf is a good score and the self satisfaction of seeing improvement. Your reward/prize for playing good poker is money. But how people value the money is where things get fuzzy. Imperator(I think it was his post) wants to use the money to put his daughter through college. So that is going to affect what stakes he plays and possibly his overall advancement in the game. Another player with less of a regard for money/less family or real life obligations may simply feel satisfied that he was more skilled, made the right decisions, and outsmarted his opponents, with the money just being an afterthought
  • NYCRyNYCRy Red Chipper Posts: 336 ✭✭✭
    ...and he may have no plans for that money other than to play more poker with it
  • kenaceskenaces Red Chipper Posts: 1,527 ✭✭✭✭
    Ryan A wrote: »
    The guys today that play the nosebleeds didn't get there by using strict bankroll management and just working their way up the ranks. There is a massive scarcity of games after 5/10NL and at some point to get to an elite level you will have to be playing in games you are are not rolled for and that are out of your comfort zone.

    Yeah finding good action above 5/10 is so location dependent, and it is not always easy to get into the game either. There are other path to playing in these games than putting huge % of your roll on the table which seem common near me. Hit a big MTT score and/or sell action.
  • kenaceskenaces Red Chipper Posts: 1,527 ✭✭✭✭
    In scanning this thread I just keep thinking that the multifaceted nature of poker is what makes it so interesting. Is it a game of math, psychology, fear, self-knowledge, gambling........? It is all of the above and more.
  • Kevin EKevin E Red Chipper Posts: 7 ✭✭
    kenaces wrote: »
    In scanning this thread I just keep thinking that the multifaceted nature of poker is what makes it so interesting. Is it a game of math, psychology, fear, self-knowledge, gambling........? It is all of the above and more.

    Most of the time I have no idea, but I believe that you're spot on here.
  • Adam WheelerAdam Wheeler Red Chipper Posts: 2,659 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2017
    jeffnc wrote: »
    For me personally, the distinction between money and "love of the game" is strongest between poker and golf. Most of my poker friends can't play golf without gambling. I play golf just for the love of the game. I'd be happy to play with pros or anyone better than me and have the highest score in my foursome, as long as we were playing the game well. On the other hand, if I were not winning money at poker, I wouldn't play (or at least temporarily losing for longer term winning.) I would never play for the love of the game if it meant I'd lose money.

    So why to this day, we often hear "Yes you loose the hand but you made the right play and eventually you'll be on the right side of it with that particular play".

    In the moment you loose money, if you happen to site out right after the hand, you have no money in your pocket but yet you'll sat again because you know you made the right play. And even if you loose 5 or 10 times in a row with the same play, just knowing you outplayed the opponent will make you sit again. But you still have no money.

    So i'll ask you this, why will you come back again and again, assuming you have the bankroll, is it because you know you beat the opponent and it that sense you won or is it about money that doesn't exist ?

    Because realistically all you got is the "victory" of the "right play".

    Yes you could argue that it still about money since it is "projected" money and it is the prospect of having that money eventually granted luck is on your side, that is dragging you back to the game but is it really the case ?

    Losing money is not fun, but knowing that you outplayed the opponent and got unlucky compensate for it in "game boundaries". Not in the materialistic sense, but in the game competitiveness sense.

    That is particularly why, when you get unlucky you can shrug it off pretty quickly.

    It is still a game.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 899 ✭✭✭
    My last post here is what I get for trying to write on my phone during a brief period of cell phone service when marching up Bright Angel Trail. But in truth I'm always subject to typos and cut and paste accidents.

    So it is quite surprising to me that this thread is still of interest to so many people since in rewriting it now I realize how sloppy my thought can be. I'm trained as a philosopher and my trade is writing and I know that good writing is rewriting. The gist of my thought is accurately captured. in the above notes and arguments but when writing for the internet it is easy to slip into exaggeration or polemic. So when I reread this now I think I need to apologize to people I attacked with a little too much rhetorical sharpness.

    And yet as I said above this thread, early in my poker career, helped to define my way of seeing the game and I have never wavered from it.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 5,003 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Losing money is not fun, but knowing that you outplayed the opponent and got unlucky compensate for it in "game boundaries". Not in the materialistic sense, but in the game competitiveness sense.

    Well, I guess what I meant was +EV$. But I've reached points before where I simply didn't have enough money to keep playing because I was on a downturn. But I came back when I could because I believed I was +EV.

  • kageykagey Red Chipper, KINGOFTAGS Posts: 2,241 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2017
    Ryan A wrote: »
    Its cool to see such intelligent discussion happening about this stuff. A course at MIT is certainly a positive thing for poker!

    This is another thing that @Imperator believes... but I strongly disagree with.
    Schooling non-players does not create a larger player pool. Instead, it produces a smaller, more skilled player pool that make the games tougher. It also, then, discourages "fun players" from continuing playing - because now it's apparent that to truly compete, you have to study. It takes the "fun" out of the game. It's the reason nobody wanted to play Gin anymore after Stu had figured out how to crush the game.
    Remember back when you used to play tic-tac-toe.... at first it was fun. But when you figured out that controlling the center square was key to winning, the game lost its allure. Equilibrium had been achieved - there was no way to "win." No reason to play.

    Remember when Harrington first revealed his "trick" of 3-betting with any two after one player raised and another called? Known as the squeeze play... this was unheard of by rec players prior to his introduction of it. Today, it's very commonplace and actually has lost it's effectiveness because nearly all players know about it. More poker knowledge hurts the game by making it tougher to play.

    I don't know if this is a good analogy or not... but think about this:
    what if prolific songwriters like McCartney, Jagger, Wilson, Joel, Stewart, Petty (or whoever you think is "good") taught a class and gave up their secrets on how to compose a pop/rock song? Once every band gets the "formula," the achievements are diminished. The market becomes flooded with sameness that suffocates original voices. The music biz suffers.

    The magic business doesn't grow because some dude in a mask reveals how the best tricks were done. This takes the showmanship and mystery out of the performance, and hurts the overall desire to see a show and be "fooled." Once the curtain is drawn away, the human mind moves on to the next puzzle... poker dies.

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