Tuesday, April 22, 2008

“Raise That Rake!” (2 of 2)

Raise that Rake!Last week I wrote about a wild Razz hand in which the final pot had ballooned to 43 big bets. I told how three of the players involved had been dealt essentially the same cards in the same sequence. There was a fourth player who rode the hand to the end who shouldn’t have been there, but among the three real contenders, all of us were dealt pretty much the same hand from beginning to end:
  • we all started out with three babies
  • we all received needed low cards on fourth street
    (giving us 4-3-2-A, 5-4-3-A, and 6-3-2-A)
  • we all received high cards on fifth
  • we all received a 9 on sixth
  • we all received a 7 on seventh
  • I concluded by suggesting the hand demonstrated “a general truism of all forms of poker that whenever players get dealt hands of equal value, action tends to increase.” There are other, more specific ways action increases, of course, but generically speaking if multiple players are dealt similar hands, it seems to me that usually ensures bigger pots.

    You’ve been there, I’m sure. Spots where you and your opponent are in fact tied but neither knows it. You raise and reraise one another, creating a monstrous pot, and then discover in the end yr betting the same hands & chopping it. And then you discover yr both down a smidge thanks to that rake.

    One particularly frequent rallying cry of the “online-poker-is-rigged” camp is to suggest poker sites artificially raise the rake by dealing cards in sequences destined to encourage action. I’ve never been one to indulge in such delusions, but since we were on the subject of “raising that rake,” I thought I’d share one instance when I did catch myself wondering something along those lines.

    I was playing what would turn out to be my very last session on Ultimate Bet. Back in November 2007, I told you the twisted tale of my arduous efforts to withdraw funds from the site. There I explained that following the Absolute Poker “super-user” scandal I decided I no longer wanted to play either on AP or UB, since the company that owned AP had bought out the company that owned UB in the fall of ’06. What I didn’t spell out at the time was the fact that it was this particular session –- my last on UB –- that in fact helped push me to make the decision.

    I was at a LHE table ($1.00/$2.00). As I remember, there were at least two or three very erratic players at the table, including a fellow to my right who’d end up dumping nearly a hundy within just a few dozen hands. As a result, I ended up doing a lot of folding as I waited for premium hands.

    Finally picked up big slick and found myself heads-up against another player. The flop came ace high and we ended up capping it. Can’t remember the turn, but a king came on the river and we capped it again. Yes, my opponent had AK as well. Nothing too remarkable there. That’ll happen now and then.

    Then, about two or three hands later, I picked up JJ and ended up creating another big pot against a single opponent. What did he have? Jacks as well. How about that . . . ?

    Then, on the very next hand I get pocket rockets and raise it up. Guy to my left calls the two bets, then the player to his left three-bets it. Comes back around to me and I cap it. Guy to my left snap-calls, as does the third player.

    Flop comes Q-7-3. I’m acting first and so bet out. First guy calls, second raises, and I three-bet. Again my buddy on my left calls the three bets lickety-split. Other player caps it. The turn brings a J. This time I bet and the guy to my left raises. Now I’m caught in the whipsaw, wondering about a set, but I was too stubborn to let it go. I can’t remember the river, but it turned out to have been a blank, and we did the same dance one more time. The final pot is enormous, something like $80-$90. What did we have?

    Guy to my left had J-7 for two pair. Offsuit, no less.

    Other dude had the other two aces.

    I played a few more hands, then sat out to brood a bit about my misfortune. Then I thought about how friggin’ unlikely it was to be dealt the same hand like that three times in such quick succession.

    What are the chances of an opponent being dealt exactly the same pocket pair as you in Hold ’em? According to the Wizard of Odds, at a ten-handed table the chances are 0.0001662 or a little worse than 1 in 6,000. The odds of it happening two hands in a row? Like 1 in 36 million or something . . . ?

    Now I’ll admit I had already developed a sincere prejudice against Ultimate Bet before that session took place, and was just about ready to pull my funds anyway. I realized, though, that for a brief moment I’d felt genuinely paranoid about the site’s integrity.

    My first thoughts actually concerned Mr. Jack-Seven happily calling all of those bets to get to his two pair. Was he a “super-user”? Could he see he was up against two players with aces? (The most likely explanation, of course, was he was a yahoo.)

    Those thoughts quickly gave way to the slightly less-crazy seeming idea that the site was purposely dealing those “action hands.” What easier way to induce action than to give players identical starting hands and let ’em go to war?

    Shamus in a tin foil fedoraI know what yr thinking. “Where’s your tin foil fedora, Shamus?” Don’t worry. I am reasonably certain that even a screwed-up site like UB wouldn’t bother with such shenanigans. Not really . . . .

    But I also knew I wasn’t going to keep playing there. Lots of other places to play that haven’t been involved with “super-user” scandals -- where the more sane among us never have to wonder about the site artificially trying to “raise that rake!”

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    Blogger Lucypher said...

    I am puzzled why anyone at all plays at UB or AP, etc.
    If we all voted with our feet, those sites would go under and their players would join the rest of us at more reputable sites (which would be +EV).
    Like any dishonest business, they should reap what they have sown and perish.

    4/22/2008 11:39 AM  
    Blogger Mitchell Cogert said...

    All the sites are based on a RNG which gives everyone a feeling that everything is random. Not!

    I don't believe any site's RNG is truly random as they are only as good as the program...also, I think we all sense something else is going on with these programs either to create action, help or hurt players, etc. (Heck the last seven times I've seen AA versus other pair all-ins, the AA lost 6 times...sorry, that ain't random.)

    So, in my mind, the bad news...no site is 100% legit. But, the good news, it's a fairly even playing field and the games are more convenient.

    4/22/2008 12:11 PM  
    Blogger Richard Brodie said...

    Not sure where you got 1 in 6000, but there are only 1225 possible starting hands after your two cards are removed from the deck, so if you're playing with nine opponents the probability one of them has the other two of your rank is approximately 9/1225 or 135 to 1.


    4/22/2008 3:37 PM  
    Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

    I see what yr saying Richard. Here's the bit from Wizard of Odds about it:

    "If ten people are each dealt two cards from a single deck what is the probability that two players will get a pair of aces?

    First, there are 10*9/2 = 45 ways you can choose 2 players out of 10. The probability of two specific players getting four aces is 1/combin(52,4) = 1/270,725. So the probability of any two players getting a pair of aces is 45/270,725 = 0.0001662."

    4/22/2008 4:24 PM  
    Blogger Mitchell Cogert said...

    Online two people getting a pair of Aces in the same hand is:

    Probability of any two players getting a pair of aces is 45/270,725 = 0.0001662. If at an online site increase by 100...unless there is a need for an action pot...increase by 1,000...therefore probability is now .1662.

    4/22/2008 5:32 PM  

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