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Old 09-20-2008, 07:10 AM   #1
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Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

I think this needs to be moved out of deep in an Other Poker thread into somewhere where more people will see it, because it's seriously disturbing. Stars employee Alex Scott volunteers the information that Stars is manipulating the odds in Triple Draw games. Complete conversation below. It may be this doesn't bother anyone else as much as it does me, but I hate the precedent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Idolatrous View Post
Pokerstars has prepared for this situation, since 6 handed it is possible that all the cards can be used and more needed. They have programmed it (allegedly) to allow for reshuffle where it is not possible to redraw cards you discarded. Which really would be extremely simple to program.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Scott View Post
I can confirm that this is correct. It is not possible to draw a card which you have already discarded at PokerStars, even in Triple Draw.

Incidentally, having the ability to spread games with both a blinds and ante is on our wish list. Obviously if we get it developed, draw is one of the prime candidates for such a structure.

Regarding 8-handed - I remember supporting that when the decision was originally made (quite a while ago now), but research and a great deal of discussion led to 6-max being chosen (hey, at least we didn't go with 5-max, ugh). I believe graphics issues were a factor in this (it can be difficult to fit 8 lots of 5 cards on the table screen without overlapping something important).
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Originally Posted by Tapirboy View Post
If true, in Triple Draw this is an error. As in draw, it should not be possible to draw a card you have discarded in the current round. However, in TD it should be possible to draw a card you have discarded in a previous round.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Scott View Post
It's not an error - the decision was made after much discussion and consultation with Team PokerStars (in fact, the original suggestion came from one of the most respected pros on the team). The theory is that no player would want one of their previous discards back, but there is no way to achieve that in a live game. Online, it's easy, so why not do it?
When people want to see hands turned up in NLHE games, you go on and on about how you're recreating the live poker experience. What the hell? And that's a minor thing, not messing with the card frequencies! This attitude isn't so far up the slippery slope from rigging flops because people like more action, IMO.

Anyway, you don't do it because it isn't fair. Knowing that your opponent is more likely to get your discards than random cards is a small advantage, but an advantage nonetheless. Since the vast majority of players will assume the game is played like a live game, those of us who now know otherwise have an unfair edge.

For instance, suppose I start with 22227, and all six players come along, so I go ahead and draw to the hand knowing that if I make a hand, it will be good and win me a huge pot. Now if it goes far enough for a reshuffle, all my opponents who are drawing at a deuce have better odds to hit one than they ought to! Even if I'm pat they must if I'm in position, because the software doesn't know if I'm going to draw or not. You've essentially rigged the game so I get sucked out on more!

All of poker is based on the odds of a standard 52-card deck. To violate that in any form is utterly unethical IMO. I'm giving serious thought to leaving Stars over this, and I'm going to repost this in the Zoo, because people deserve to know.
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Old 09-20-2008, 07:18 AM   #2
 
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

Wow, this seems pretty shady - in theory it's not really that bad of a decision I guess insofar as it probably makes TD slightly more fun to know you won't get your discards back, but I agree with your point about how people will assume it works under the same rules and procedures as any other TD game would. I can't think of any other situation in which an online poker game has different rules (as far as the actual gameplay, not technical stuff like multiaccounting etc) than its live version.
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Old 09-20-2008, 07:50 AM   #3
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

Alex responded in the original thread. I hope he comes here soon cause copying is a PITA. Quotes from me in blue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Scott View Post
I'm glad the debate has begun, because I'm sure there are people on these forums who are sharp enough, mathematically, to figure out exactly what the effect on the odds is. My instinct says that the effect will be very small.

To clarify, the algorithm for the reshuffle itself is no different to the normal shuffle (the deck isn't forced into a preset order, or anything like that). What happens is that, at the point at which you are dealt new cards, if you are going to receive a card that you have already discarded, that card is simply skipped and you get the next one instead.

For instance, suppose I start with 22227, and all six players come along, so I go ahead and draw to the hand knowing that if I make a hand, it will be good and win me a huge pot. Now if it goes far enough for a reshuffle, all my opponents who are drawing at a deuce have better odds to hit one than they ought to!

Yes, but your odds of improving your hand in the first place are also better, because you cannot pair deuces and are less likely to pair sevens. It's a benefit that everybody shares.

Anyway, you don't do it because it isn't fair. Knowing that your opponent is more likely to get your discards than random cards is a small advantage, but an advantage nonetheless.

This is no secret, of course, and anyone who were to write to support asking about how the reshuffle worked would get a full explanation. However, I wonder if we should be making it more clear, on the website perhaps, that our system is slightly different from that typically used in live poker.

At the end of the day, our goal is to make players happy, so if there is widespread discontent about this, we will of course listen and consider changing the system.
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Old 09-20-2008, 07:58 AM   #4
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Scott
I'm glad the debate has begun, because I'm sure there are people on these forums who are sharp enough, mathematically, to figure out exactly what the effect on the odds is. My instinct says that the effect will be very small.
I find this attitude even scarier than the original one. Undoubtedly the effect is tiny; after all reshuffles are extremely rare in real-money games. That doesn't change the fact of the manipulation itself, which is the problem here. It's not OK to make a "tiny" change in the odds. (For one thing, who decides what's "tiny"?)

Quote:
Yes, but your odds of improving your hand in the first place are also better, because you cannot pair deuces and are less likely to pair sevens. It's a benefit that everybody shares.
Not if I'm pat already. And if not, I'm actually more likely to pair sevens, since I haven't discarded one and one of my opponents may have.

I've generally been a big fan of Stars, and if I have to leave there I probably have to find something else to do with myself than poker - not a particularly thrilling prospect. But if the way you're not seeing the problem here is representative of the people making the decisions, I have a hard time continuing to have faith in PokerStars' ethics.

I'm not usually a hard-liner, but manipulating the odds, ever, is not acceptable.
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Old 09-20-2008, 02:59 PM   #5
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

It is simply not true that a triple draw player would never like to receive a card he has previously discarded.

Suppose you start out with 23788 and it is raised, reraised, and capped multiple ways. You might throw out the 8's to draw for a wheel instead. But if your opponents are drawing a lot of cards, you'd absolutely love to catch one of those 8's after the reshuffle. It might have been a mistake to discard it in the first place, but so what?

In particular, suppose you come down to a 2347 vs. 2347 draw on the last round, after a reshuffle. (This case is particularly easy to analyze.) If you saw and discarded 88TT but your opponent saw KKAA then you are at a severe and unexpected disadvantage. If you draw a 5689TJQK then he has 4 fewer cards that cause him to lose. If he draws to a 89JQKA2346 then you have 4 fewer cards that will let you win. We would expect the two draws to be absolutely equal but all the disadvantages are on your side due to different cards you drew and discarded pre-reshuffle. (You gain only a relatively small advantage because he has to draw a 5 or 6 for you to benefit from getting a 2nd shot with an 8 or T, or you have to pair 2347 in order for you to get an advantage from him not drawing a K or A..)

I can work out the number in detail but it should be obvious that only one person benefits in this example.

Last edited by MarkGritter; 09-20-2008 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:04 PM   #6
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

That's a very good example, and it generalizes to less extreme cases as well. Nines and tens commonly discarded on the first draw are often winning outs on the third.
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:44 PM   #7
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

In my 7432 vs. 7432 example:

Player A discarded 88TT
Player B discarded KKAA
The deck is reshuffled just before player A draws his cards.

The casino algorithm gives both hands 50% equity.

I believe the Stars algorithm gives player A only 47.4% equity.

There are 40 cards that player A can draw. For most of them that leaves 39 cards for player B, except for the KKAA that player B cannot get. So the total number of outcomes should be 36 * 39 + 4 * 40 = 1564. Of these A wins 696 and ties 92.

It does not seem fair to penalize a player's hand based on the quality of his discards.
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:49 PM   #8
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkGritter View Post
In my 7432 vs. 7432 example:

Player A discarded 88TT
Player B discarded KKAA
The deck is reshuffled just before player A draws his cards.

The casino algorithm gives both hands 50% equity.

I believe the Stars algorithm gives player A only 47.4% equity.

There are 40 cards that player A can draw. For most of them that leaves 39 cards for player B, except for the KKAA that player B cannot get. So the total number of outcomes should be 36 * 39 + 4 * 40 = 1564. Of these A wins 696 and ties 92.

It does not seem fair to penalize a player's hand based on the quality of his discards.
they did say that you could redraw your discard back in the same round...so still 50/50
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:51 PM   #9
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

It mostly doesn't seem fair to run a game with different rules than what most of its players would expect.
I'm really surprised Stars is doing this.
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:53 PM   #10
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

This is really making a mountain out of a mole hill. This is situation that comes up about as often as using a community card in stud.

If this isn't posted somewhere on the rules page, it should probably be added. Other than that, it's really fine.
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:54 PM   #11
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

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Originally Posted by seefut22 View Post
they did say that you could redraw your discard back in the same round...so still 50/50
I ignored the 3rd round discard, assume that the discards I listed are from the 1st and 2nd round.

Quote from Alex above: "if you are going to receive a card that you have already discarded, that card is simply skipped and you get the next one instead."
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Old 09-20-2008, 04:00 PM   #12
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

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Originally Posted by randomstumbl View Post
This is really making a mountain out of a mole hill. This is situation that comes up about as often as using a community card in stud.

If this isn't posted somewhere on the rules page, it should probably be added. Other than that, it's really fine.
The specific issue here is quite tiny indeed. The point is, once Stars has demonstrated willingness to deal from different decks in one situation, why should we trust them not to do it in others?

You can't be just a little bit rigged.
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Old 09-20-2008, 04:14 PM   #13
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

In this situation, they made a slight tweak they thought made the game better probably based on a recommendation from one of their pros. Since the situation only affects extremely low limit games, they neglected to include it in the rules page. This has honest error written all over it. Obviously, Stars is not trying to hide what they're doing (since they explained to you what they were doing).

Also, LOL at using an example with only two players drawing one on the river to demonstrate the effect. I've had a deck reshuffled a few times, but never with only two people drawing on the river.
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Old 09-20-2008, 04:21 PM   #14
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

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Originally Posted by randomstumbl View Post
This has honest error written all over it.
It had honest error written all over it - and I treated it that way - until Alex came back and said it was intentional.

I do not like the philosophical and ethical underpinnings that allowed them to create this policy. The integrity of the deck is the foundation of online poker, and they ought to know better than to monkey with it.
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Old 09-20-2008, 04:48 PM   #15
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Re: Stars changing the odds in Triple Draw games

Quote:
Originally Posted by randomstumbl View Post
This is really making a mountain out of a mole hill. This is situation that comes up about as often as using a community card in stud.

If this isn't posted somewhere on the rules page, it should probably be added. Other than that, it's really fine.
If the community card in Stud was drawn from a distribution that was not fair, or that included, say, the 8th player's 4 discarded cards, it would still be an error that should be corrected.

If Stars had intentionally changed the rules for this Stud situation at the suggestion of one of their pros in order to make a "better game", it would still be an ethically questionable decision even though the situation is infrequent.

I don't ascribe bad intent to Stars. But I am bothered that they got bad advice in this case and decided to implement a nonstandard variation. (Is anybody going to argue that they think this is a great idea?)
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