Wednesday, 30 January 2013

January Review

I'd like to do monthly reviews this year to try to boost my content on this blog back up a little bit. I'm hoping I can possibly do a few Hand History reviews throughout the month as well.

I think some of my lack of strategy and results posting had to do with playing on Stars and some of the regs knowing who I was. However, about a week ago I decided to try out a new site given how tough and reg infested the games are on Stars and my lack of volume for a decent rakeback percentage between Stars or FTP. Not that my new site's rakeback is anything decent either, but I just want to go back to the days of soft games and steamrolling people -- although this time instead of being the standard nut-peddler, I'm quite enjoying valuebetting light at every turn.

The biggest issue I've found with most other sites has been having terrible software and customer support. I've since realized that "terrible software" to me means cards that are not easy on the eyes and unworkable button layouts. If I can't lean back in my chair and enjoy myself rather than get a headache from squinting at my cards and figuring out which buttons are which on a 24" monitor, you have bad software.

The site I'm on now (and no I won't reveal it for the sake of what I stated above) has a great waffle style deck and decent layout, along with the action being easy to follow. I typically played on Stars with Table Ninja with my sound muted, but I have found adding sound to sites with less than stellar software helps a lot for following action.

Without further ado...


Yes this is a brag. Yes this is only 7500 hands. Yes that is 30 buyins. And yes that comes out to 40 bb/100.

I have actually put in a lot more hourly volume than I was on Stars, but I am only playing 4-6 tables for about 450 hands/hour on an 6max MT-ratio of 4.2 given the reduced traffic on this site. I think that's mostly to do with having this huge amount of confidence that every time I sit down, I feel like a 15 bb/100 session is running bad.

I'll keep this running monthly tally in big blinds rather than dollars as per usual. It is all about the decisions and learning after all. I'll be pretty happy with 25k-30k hands per month at this rate.

Jan. - Micros | 34 buyins | 8200 hands | 41 bb/100

Friday, 18 January 2013

Guess Who? Beginnger Strategy Analysis

My daughter has recently taken a liking to hauling out all of my old board games. The favourite so far is Guess Who? Due to my consistently being demolished the majority of the time and having victory snatched away from me with one remaining piece by 1/8 Hail Mary chances many more than 1 out of 8 times, I decided to look at the numbers to try to gain an edge.

I'm choosing to ignore all of the potential meta-game, question combining and deceptive game play strategies available. She is not yet 5 years old after all. But I thought there must be some statistical edge to gain through the simple, common questions.

The Setup

  • 24 Characters.
  • 9 Common traits: Bald, Bearded, Eye Colour, Gender, Glasses, Hair Colour ,Hats, Moustachioed, and Nose Size.
  • Traits are split relatively evenly at 19:5: 5 with glasses, 19 without glasses, 5 females, 19 males, 5 with large noses, 19 with small noses.
  • There are two exceptions: Only 4 bearded characters and 4 with brown hair.
  • Traits are split unevenly between characters, ranging from 1 to 4 uncommon traits each.
  • Each player chooses one character at random out of a deck of cards.
  • *Note I am also ignoring the fact that, according to 4 year olds "Oh, I/you already had this one! That's silly! [draws a new card]." Also, some hair is distinctly yellow, not blonde.
  • The game proceeds by a process of elimination.

The result of inputting all of this data into a spreadsheet cross-referenced by character quickly shows that there is a sum of 63 uncommon traits among the group: (5 each among 7 of the non-hair groups (35), 4 of one (4), 4 hair colours of 5 each (20) and one hair colour of 4(4). Thus we can already determine that the first guess (assuming we always get a 'no') will yield 5 eliminations for every guess except questions about beards and brown hair which will result in 4 eliminations.

Keep in mind that your character will skew the results, essentially acting as blockers. Therefore we should avoid guessing character traits that our character possesses. For example, if our character has black hair and we ask if our opponent has black hair, we are only eliminating 4 characters in practice (again, ignoring the meta-game of optimal elimination vs bluffing strategies employed by experienced players).

However -- and this is where the true genius of Milton Bradley's board game creation ability shines by balancing luck and skill -- there are small, yet distinct statistical advantages to gain in the combination of your first two guesses.

Top 10 Ranked Questions:

Worst 10 Ranked Questions:

It becomes immediately obvious that it's not a good idea to ask first questions about beards or brown hair or the traits our character has blocked as they are all under represented, as well as second questions where the first eliminated some of those traits already, such as gender and hats, as a 'no' to female already eliminates two hats (Maria and Claire).

For the sake of being meticulous, lets look at an in practice example. You draw George with uncommon traits of white hair and a hat. Theoretically, if all cards were in the deck, asking about hats and white hair would yield a 24/9 result. However, in practice you have already eliminated 2 traits and 1 character from the group as blockers and have a true result of 22/8. This makes asking other 24/9 questions such as glasses and black hair superior to the question involving traits you own. Likewise, this drops starting questions about baldness and hats off the top of the starting list.

Understanding the best starting questions is a little more difficult as it's hard to know at a glance which combination of traits applies to the largest group of characters, especially as the game progresses into the 3rd and 4th turns. Therefore the best thought process seems to be thinking through and eliminating your worst options while memorizing the top five or ten theoretical guesses until you have a better understanding of the top starting guesses versus your character blockers.

I'm hoping this analysis will give me and all of the readers out there with unscrupulous pre-school opponents the edge we need to win. Good luck.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

My take on the gun control debate

I infrequently dive into the political spectrum, and I know a lot of Americans still read my blog when I do post. Given this debate is so extreme and has even taken over the national news in Canada, I thought I'd offer up my thoughts.

In the latter half of last year, with the increased mass violence in the US, especially with the Sandy Hook shooting, I found myself thinking more and more "What the hell is going on down there?"

Since then, and despite being fed copious amounts of gun control debate, I've come to a conclusion. And surprisingly, my conclusion doesn't let me pick one side of the fence or the other.

That's because this entire debate is absolutely pointless.

As of right now, the debate is focusing on mass shootings and assault weapons and 100 round clips as a direct, knee jerk result of the spike in rampages in 2012. This is expected as the media and politicians thrive on shock value. Despite the tragedy that they are, preventing mass murders is nothing more than a drop in the bucket.

With 14,000 homicides annually and 10 - 12,000 of those estimated to be gun related, you could have a 30 victim rampage every month and it would only amount to 2.5% of all murders. If you could then wave a magic wand and remove every last assault weapon and all 30+ round clips from the country and prevent 100% of mass shootings, you would still have 13,640 people dead by the end of the year. And there isn't even a rampage every month now. Dollar for dollar, you're by far better off ignoring the mass shooting problem and throwing tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars more at trying to prevent drunk driving and diabetes.

The narrative in the US is way off mark. 14,000 homicides per year is 38 people violently killed every single day. That's the equivalent of 3 Aurora incidents. Every day. But everyday news doesn't make the news. The narrative would be on the right track if the major news networks had a "Homicides Today: ___" ticker fed by affiliate updates running in the bottom corner of the screen 24 hours per day.

There's something very wrong when a Western, developed nation is a huge outlier at 3-4 times the homicide rate of other Western, developed nations. I'm not entirely convinced it's the guns alone. There are stark socio-economic differences between the US and Europe that may cause this statistical rift, but Canada should be a much closer comparison by a significant degree:
  • 80%+ of Canadians live within a few hundred miles of the American border.
  • We consume massive amounts of American media.
  • I assume obtaining guns illegally isn't that much more difficult for people that want to commit crimes.
  • Even with the recent increase in minimum sentences for violent crime, we have extremely lax punishment for all types of felonies compared to the US.
So we're basically America-light of the North without the big prison stick, yet have a homicide rate 1/3 that of the United States. Granted, US rates have dropped by 50% since the ludicrously high rates in the 70s, 80s and 90s. There are only three obvious, significant differences I can think of between our countries:
  • Adequate access to mental healthcare.
  • A ridiculous difference in the number of legal guns.
  • The 2nd Amendment.
There may be some additional cultural factors that come into play that I can't really speak to living on the outside. Perpetually being at war, the alleged gun culture, the laughable "video games / music made me do it" arguments... I find there's a big missing link between any of those or other social dynamics and the willingness to actually pull the trigger on someone. I also think the US Constitution is one of the best social contracts ever written, and would never want changes made to it lightly or as the result of knee jerk, emotional responses if I were American.

But as long as everyone's focused on this smallest, niche part of the overall problem instead of honestly figuring out what that missing link is between factor and action, Americans are never going to solve this issue.