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Old 02-23-2012, 08:21 AM   #1
Thirdman
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The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

Hi there, I was wondering from a game theory point of view why white has an advantage having the first move but where poker is concerned the first move is a disadvantage. I though generally speaking the last person to act should be in the best position, is this totally dependent on the nature of the game itself?
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Old 02-23-2012, 08:29 AM   #2
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

of course it's dependent of the nature of the game. If you take part in a pistol duel, would you rather shoot first or last?

There are instances in chess where it's useful to be not the one who has to move. But usually you have moves that improve your position and therefore it's better to have the move than not.

If you talk about first move advantage, usually the opening is meant. There, some authors have claimed that being the one to react to white's plans can work in black's favour. But it's not enough to completely counter the initiative inherent in moving first, and most of the time white would have the option of making a so-called semi-waiting move, a move that improves the position just a little without giving too much away.
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:10 AM   #3
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

I think it has a lot to do with one being a game of complete information and the other being a game of incomplete information.
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:44 AM   #4
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

Well theoretically there are games with complete information where the second player wins (imagine a game of chess started from a position of mutual zugzwang), but is there one where this applies for most situations?
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:00 AM   #5
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

Hm yes my comment might have been dumb, or at least in need of elaboration
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:47 PM   #6
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

Thats because in poker all players by definition have to play the same "moves" or "rounds"( unless somebody folds first to act) while in Chess black wont necessarily be able to make the same moves as white because if white checkmates black cant answer back.
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:49 PM   #7
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

Connect Four has bunches of draws and wins for each player depending on the board size.
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:55 PM   #8
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

Thats because the second player is able to force a zugzwang.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:29 PM   #9
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

This doesn't have anything to do with game theory. The value of the first move in chess is unknown. It is perceived to be most likely that it has 0 value given most people feel the game is a draw. Similarly in poker the question becomes whether the benefit of position means the game is such that the player last to act will always have an inherent edge or whether it can also be shown to be 0EV. I think it's nearly impossible that being out of position ends up being a theoretic edge in poker. I would say that is vastly less likely than chess being a forced win for black, for instance.

I suppose that's a more verbose +1 to Noir's comment: it's dependent of the nature of the game.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:47 PM   #10
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

Theoreticly the value of the first move of chess is unknown but empiricly white has an edge.
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Old 02-23-2012, 03:02 PM   #11
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

See "Zuzgwang Lite" in Chess for Zebras by GM Jonathan Rowson.

There are some openings where at the end of the opening, White has no "useful" move, and in turn Black does.

One example would be a line of Symmetrical English.
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Old 02-23-2012, 03:13 PM   #12
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noir_Desir View Post
Well theoretically there are games with complete information where the second player wins (imagine a game of chess started from a position of mutual zugzwang), but is there one where this applies for most situations?

Yes but chess doesnt start in zugzwang.
Smillingbill nailed it .

Im a firm believer that in theory it shoul end in a draw but 1 st move is a clear advantage cause in allmost all opening u need around a 25 moves played correctly by black to reach an even position.

But their a lot of room to make mistake in the first 25 moves so...
Thats why white win more than Black.
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Old 02-23-2012, 03:17 PM   #13
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

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Originally Posted by All-inMcLovin View Post
See "Zuzgwang Lite" in Chess for Zebras by GM Jonathan Rowson.

There are some openings where at the end of the opening, White has no "useful" move, and in turn Black does.

One example would be a line of Symmetrical English.

Maybe, tho i suspect his analysis isnt the end of those variation since someone will find improvement later on , its a false statement imo cause :

White is moving first so he just need to not go in those variation right ? ?
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Old 02-24-2012, 03:12 AM   #14
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

It's not 100% clear that White has no "useful" move. See the use of quotation marks.

There may be more lines like this then you would expect as well. A number of lines in chess opening books that are =, are really closer to =+ (slightly better for Black) than they are to =.

As far as momentum goes, Black equalizing can be seen as a positive trend for him. Trends in chess also should not be underrated considering something like "zugzwang lite".
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:05 AM   #15
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

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Originally Posted by All-inMcLovin View Post
There may be more lines like this then you would expect as well. A number of lines in chess opening books that are =, are really closer to =+ (slightly better for Black) than they are to =.
while this might be true, i think it's more because of evaluation bias of chess authors than due to an underlying principle that favours black.
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Old 02-24-2012, 05:54 PM   #16
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

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Originally Posted by valenzuela View Post
Thats because the second player is able to force a zugzwang.
That's a silly comment. Obviously, in a 2-player alternating turn game, if it's a win for player 2, then the starting position is zugzwang.
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Old 02-24-2012, 06:00 PM   #17
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

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That's a silly comment. Obviously, in a 2-player alternating turn game, if it's a win for player 2, then the starting position is zugzwang.
right
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Old 02-25-2012, 02:16 PM   #18
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

A little derail but on my death bed i will be insisting chess is a forced win for White.
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:15 PM   #19
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

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A little derail but on my death bed i will be insisting chess is a forced win for White.
I disagree, I've never heard of any game in which black played perfectly and lost. I've heard of games where white played perfectly but drew anyway. But maybe the level we've reached even with the strongest programs isn't nearly as strong as it could be. Who knows. It took nearly 20 years to solve the game of checkers. Chess is so much more complex than checkers. But in checkers, if God were to play God, the game would end in a draw all the time.
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Old 02-26-2012, 03:26 AM   #20
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

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A little derail but on my death bed i will be insisting chess is a forced win for White.
I never heard yet ,from someone thinking its a force win for white , how its a win for white when the majority of opening show black equalize in most opening after 25 moves.

Theory shows that as the game drag on , white advantage diminish if black doesnt make a mistake ....
Imo there is no logic in : after black reach equality near 30 moves , white find a force win out of nowhere for no reason ???

If it was a force win for white , in the majority of game played , black would rarely find a equalizing move .... But on the contrary , in post mortem game , often we can find a move from black that equalize the game..

So unless u can explain how to counter this argument.. I see no reason expecting white find a force win for no reason at all?
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Old 02-26-2012, 12:05 PM   #21
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

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I never heard yet ,from someone thinking its a force win for white , how its a win for white when the majority of opening show black equalize in most opening after 25 moves.

Theory shows that as the game drag on , white advantage diminish if black doesnt make a mistake ....
Imo there is no logic in : after black reach equality near 30 moves , white find a force win out of nowhere for no reason ???

If it was a force win for white , in the majority of game played , black would rarely find a equalizing move .... But on the contrary , in post mortem game , often we can find a move from black that equalize the game..

So unless u can explain how to counter this argument.. I see no reason expecting white find a force win for no reason at all?
I'm pretty sure the forced win for white would be achieved by a precized order of moves in the opening. There would be a perfect opening for white in which black simply couldn't defend... But there would be so much possibilities that it would be humanly impossible to memorise everything perhaps ?
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Old 02-26-2012, 02:01 PM   #22
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

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...But maybe the level we've reached even with the strongest programs isn't nearly as strong as it could be.
Setup a nontrivial endgame that you can solve using endgame table bases. Then let Houdini start going through it. It will almost invariably blunder away the game at some point. If it can't hold games with 5 pieces on the board, it's safe to assume that its play with 32 pieces on the board is rather horrific, at least in comparison to perfect play.

But I doubt we'll be seeing any more major improvements in chess AI anytime soon. We're nowhere even remotely close to being able to solve chess, yet programs can already beat every human on the planet. I imagine motivation, and thus progress, will continue to fade.
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Old 02-26-2012, 03:53 PM   #23
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

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I never heard yet ,from someone thinking its a force win for white , how its a win for white when the majority of opening show black equalize in most opening after 25 moves.
That equality is an opinion and not an objective fact.
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Old 02-26-2012, 04:30 PM   #24
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

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while this might be true, i think it's more because of evaluation bias of chess authors than due to an underlying principle that favours black.
obv
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Old 02-27-2012, 02:52 AM   #25
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Re: The First Move Advantage Poker, Chess and Game Theory

about OP, many things come to mind:

1. In poker, "black" (or 2nd player to act) has more information before making the move.
2. One of the problem to bet(act) first is the re-raise, move that is not in chess (again, info issues already mentioned by smilingbill).
3. Its from the begginers of chess that before attacking u need to develop the pieces, so white should finish development first (and so, is ready to attack first).
4. In chess, in an equalized position both players are looking for the same.
Let's make a simple example: gaining space in the centre. So white plays 1.e4.
Now, (without going through opening theory, very basic idea...) black wants the same, but by playing 1. ... e5 he's inviting white to lead with 2.Nf3 attacking the pawn.
Now black has to defendit with 2. ... Nc6; Result: white has the iniciative (is attacking and playing for a win) and black is defending and trying to equalize (going for a draw).
Ok, so instead of defending (2. ... Nc6) let's counterplay (like a re-raise) and let's play 2. ... Nf6, attacking white's pawn. Well, black is not going to be able to do that much longer cause after taking on e5 (3. Nxe5), 3 ... Nxe4 is a mistake.
5. In chess, players have (start with) the same pieces, while in poker they dont: they have always different cards. So "black" can have a better hand and re-raise; no such thing in chess.
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