Tag Archives: PTR

The Cheater Challenge

(I’m going to leave names out of this post because I think it applies to a lot of people, many of whom I don’t know about. Obviously I have some specific people in mind, though.)

I’ve had a lot of discussions over the past year or so with known former cheaters and friends of known former cheaters. A lot of them feel that the sort of incessant verbal abuse directed at them on the internet (and much much less often, in real life) is unfair. Their arguments of course vary, but usually the gist will be something like this: “I made mistakes in the past. I’m a different person now. I can’t take back my actions.”

I agree. I believe strongly in forgiveness, and I absolutely hate the idea of giving known former cheaters no chance of redemption and therefore very little incentive to avoid cheating, scamming, and stealing in the future. So, I’d like to try to do something about this.

While I don’t claim to speak for the peanut gallery and I certainly can’t control their opinions, I do think I know enough about the poker community to know how former cheaters (and likely former scammers and thieves as well) can salvage their reputations with the majority of its members. Frankly, it’s pretty obvious, but most known former cheaters are too busy feeling like victims to actually proactively try to make up for what they’ve done, and the community seems to be mostly interested in insulting cheaters and arguing about whether they deserve to be insulted. So, in order to nudge both parties towards a solution, I present The Cheater Challenge:

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Unenforced Rules Suck

It’s becoming more and more clear that the major poker sites are not enforcing many of their own rules.

Part of this is because they’ve made rules that simply can’t be enforced: FTP bans ghosting, and most major sites now ban datamining. Some of their rules clearly are enforceable but either aren’t enforced at all or have no real punishments associated with them: I only know of one example of a site actually confiscating money for multiaccounting in cash games (and it was a complicated case), and I don’t think anyone’s ever gotten more than a warning for using PTR while playing. (Similar problems exist in the live poker world as well, but I’m not really qualified to comment. Nate detailed a bunch of problems with selective enforcement at the PCA in this 2p2 post.)

The result is, predictably, a lot of confusion. Some people simply ignore all these rules and make a lot of money as a result. Most people ignore some of the unenforced rules (PTR, ghosting while coaching), but not all of them. Some people get in trouble for doing things that they didn’t even know were wrong. Throughout this process, the unquestionably important rules such as the bans on collusion or buying accounts deep in tournaments lose their weight. This is obviously a terrible situation, and it will only get worse if the sites don’t do something about it as people continue to learn what they can get away with. Current high profile cases of people breaking the rules and making tons of money off of it with no consequences, like ugotabanana and PTR have, will encourage others to follow suit and certainly won’t make things easier.

So, things definitely have to change. In each case in which a rule is either not enforced or enforced only selectively, each site should either change the rule or start seriously enforcing it. They need to make it clear that breaking their rules is cheating, and cheating is both unprofitable and unacceptable. I’ll outline my specific ideas on how to handle multiaccounting and datamining below (a lot of which is just copied and pasted from an old 2p2 post of mine), but I think that the general policy that rules are rules is much more important than the specifics.

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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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“The Poker Economy” and Why Your Bottom Line Isn’t a Moral Barometer

(It seems fitting that I make my debut in the blogosphere with a tl;dr rant that’ll probably piss some people off. I’ll probably be writing some less tl;dr rants that’ll piss fewer people off here fairly regularly, so if that’s the sorta thing that appeals to you, stay tuned or whatever. I’ll try to post on twitter when I make a new blog post.)

People in the online poker world are becoming increasingly obsessed with talking about “the poker economy”.  Lots of things are accused of being “bad for the poker economy”–Bumhunting, being a douche to casual players, cheating, and talking strategy at the poker table are pretty much universally considered problems for this noble cause, and some people also mention HUDs, training sites, various forms of legislation, running it twice, short stacking, PTR, public discussions of problems in the poker world like cheating and shady sites, various types of tournament structures, and a ridiculously long list of other things. But WTF is the poker economy?

I don’t really think most people who use the term know what it is–I think they’re more concerned with how they can protect it from the ridiculously long list of threats to its life than they are with knowing WTF it is in the first place.  That’s because it doesn’t really have a definition.  The poker economy is an undefined abstract concept that people use to justify their own opinions. Not coincidentally, people typically mention it when they’re trying to argue for something that would help their bottom line or to justify their own actions. It’s actually quite similar to a strategy that homophobic assholes use when they say weird nonsensical crap like “The strength of America is in its families and homosexuality threatens that”, or when racist assholes say that they’re “preserving their heritage” or something similarly stupid. Basically, it’s a cheap way to make it sound like there’s some moral imperative behind a position. I hope people will start pointing out these empty arguments more often.

But, just because people make terrible arguments doesn’t mean that their positions are wrong.  So, I wanted to discuss some of the specific things that people think “hurt the poker economy” and see which ones people are justified in complaining about. Obviously being a douche to casual players obviously isn’t ok–Not because it “hurts the poker economy” or “is bad for the game” but because being a douche is never ok. Similarly, cheating isn’t ok. It’s not that cheating isn’t ok because it scares fish away or disrupts the beautiful flow of money from fish to pro or anything like that; cheating is simply unethical all on its own. I’ll devote more time to some of the others:

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