Category Archives: Uncategorized

What makes poker a great game?

I recently did a talk at the NYU Game Center cleverly entitled “What Makes Poker So Awesome?” (Old school 2p2per ilya wrote up a nice blog post about it here.) The talk was originally intended for game designers, but some poker players on my Twitter feed requested that I put a copy online for the poker community/whoever to check out. So, I did.

It’s forty minutes of me talking about why poker is a game that’s interesting enough to study. If that sort of thing interests you, enjoy:


In completely unrelated news, I’ve been meaning for a while now to create a video explaining basic statistics that’s geared towards poker players. The goal would be to explain from first principles some really fundamental concepts that I think would be useful to people whose net worths depend heavily on coin tosses and deck shuffling and stuff: What the hell is variance? What the hell is the normal distribution? What the hell is the binomial distribution? How can I use these things to plan my life and play poker better? etc. At the very least, it should give me something to point to whenever someone asks me to make a new Life as a Poker Pro by the Numbers post–since those posts use mostly very basic statistics that poker pros should probably know themselves anyway.

I may or may not actually do that, and if I do, it may or may not be soon. So, if that sort of thing sounds particularly appealing to you, you might try bugging me on Twitter or something to put a little peer pressure on me to do that.

2p2 Hacked–Do This Stuff Immediately

The Two Plus Two Forums have been hacked, and the forums have been taken down by the admins to prevent further damage. The hacker has gained access to a list of usernames, e-mails, hashed passwords, and password salts. While hashed passwords and plaintext passwords aren’t quite the same thing, the combination of the hashed password together with the salt makes it possible for the hacker to find plaintext passwords. (This is preventable, but vBulletin’s default hashing algorithm is md5, which is completely insecure against this sort of thing–and other things.)

In other words, you should assume that there is currently a hacker that knows your 2p2 username, your e-mail, and your 2p2 password. That’s really bad. This isn’t your standard cryptonerd/privacy nut’s rant that makes you do a lot of work to prevent a potential attack that may or may not come and that you don’t understand; this is a situation in which a very serious hacker has already done the attack. Apologies in advance for the bold and all caps and stuff.

So, right now, here’s what you should do:

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Choosing a Decent Password

The 2+2 forums are dealing with some bad guys who are trying to brute force people’s passwords. In other words, some guy somewhere is running a computer program that probably has a very long dictionary of commonly used passwords and systematically tries a ton of different passwords for a ton of different accounts on 2+2. These types of attacks are essentially preventable by website administrators (and hopefully 2+2 will get its act together soon), but they’re still quite common.

If your password is uncommon (e.g., “kfag4;6-lkjghaa” and not “mypass”), it’s likely nothing to worry about. If your password is in the list of the million most common passwords, someone may very well get access to your 2+2 account as a result. (You should go to 2+2 and change your password immediately.) Worse still, if you use the same password for your e-mail or for a poker site or your bank account, you might lose money as a result.

So, I just wanted to quickly share some easy ways to choose a decent password. I got the basic idea from an awesome xkcd comic. (BTW, xkcd is really cool, and you should check it obsessively on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.) Remember that the goal of a good password is to be both memorable and extremely hard to guess.

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New Independent Poker News Site, Subject: Poker

For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Thomas Bakker and I have started our own independent poker news site, Subject: Poker. You can read our launch announcement for more detail, but I’ll provide a more opinion-based description here (since it would be inappropriate for me to publish my opinions on a news site).

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Request for Data

I’ve got more stats posts in the pipeline (i.e. more of these: 1 2 3). I don’t need any extra data for any form of STT (9-max, 6-max, HU), so I think I’ll either do 9-man SnGs or some bankroll stuff next.

However, I do need some additional data for the following games: NLHE FR (50 BB+), PLO HU (50 BB+), PLO 6-max (50 BB+), LHE HU, and LHE 6-max. (I can use my own data for NLHE HU.) If you’re a professional with a lot of hands played at any of those games, please get in contact with me. You can PM me on 2p2 or deucescracked or e-mail me at noahsd (at) gmail (dot) com. Please mention what games and stakes you play, what site(s) you play on, how many of your own hands you have in HM (you must have HM), and your winrate.

You won’t actually be sending me your hand histories, so you shouldn’t have any ethical or privacy concerns. (I’ll just give you instructions to dump the data that I need to a spreadsheet.) You can remain anonymous if you’d like, or I can give you a shout out if that’s your thing.

If you’d like to see me analyze any other type of games (PLO FR, various forms of CAP, various forms of stud, O8, etc.), let me know. Keep in mind that I can’t do anything with games that aren’t supported by any tracking programs.

Flaws in PTR Rake Comparison

(This is just a rough post that I’m writing up because of a quick aside in my previous post that wwants asked about it on twitter. You probably don’t care about this. But I don’t wanna ever be accused of missing an opportunity to nit pick, and I’m completely incapable of saying anything in 140 characters–or, frankly, 1400–so I wrote up a post.)

PTR had a pretty cool idea to compare the rake at various sites. I think that that’s wonderful.  The sites have slightly different ways of charging rake which makes comparison hard and obscures what are almost certainly legitimate differences.  Different sites divide the stakes and the number of players at the table differently, take rake at different increments, have different caps, etc. Some sites have BBJs, and Full Tilt even rakes run it twice pots differently to further confuse things.

However, this is actually a slightly deceptive problem because the obvious solution doesn’t really provide legitimate information. PTR just took the total rake generated in their database and divided by the number of hands (then multiplied by 100 to make the numbers look pretty). The really big problem with this is that all the sites charge rake only if you see a flop (except french sites…), and the amount depends on the size of the pot. So sites with more flops and larger pots–the type of site that almost everyone wants to play on–will tend to show higher rake by this metric, even if their rake structure is exactly equivalent.

This isn’t a trivial problem.  For example, Cake, Stars, Bodog and FTP have identical rake at NL2000 FR except that FTP charges $1 extra for run it twice ($0.05 per $1 capped at $3) . But in PTR’s table, Bodog charges over twice as much rake as Cake, and there’s pretty good variation in general (Cake = $11.51, FTP = $13.80, Stars = $17.96 and Bodog = $23.35). Since almost every pot that sees a flop at 10/20 is going to be capped at $3 rake, this almost certainly means that players see the flop about twice as often on Bodog as on Cake (about 70% and 35% respectively).  I don’t think that many players would consider that as a negative, and it’s certainly not Bodog’s fault. I’m sure that there are many similar examples.

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