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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Player Behavior In Low Limit Online MTTs

You always read about online poker being rigged. I'm not saying it is, I'm not saying it isn't. That's a subject that's way beyond me and best addressed elsewhere.

Think about this, though: Part of the perception that poker - in this case multi table tournaments - is rigged can be attributed to the skewing of results by differences in player behavior.

Logically, as your perceived chance of winning a pot increases, so should the portion of your chip stack that you would be willing to risk in any given hand. Is there any question about that? If you have a zero percent chance of winning the hand (by any means), you would not be willing to risk a single chip. If you have ~100% confidence in winning, you would happily risk every chip available. There may not be a 1:1 linear relationship, but in general, you're going to get a line or curve similar to this graph:
Note that this accounts for variations in playing style. A more aggressive player is going to be more willing to risk his or her chips, and as such would be in the pink zone somewhere. A more conservative player, less willing to risk things without greater certainty, would be in the gray zone. Both would play identically at the extremes (0% confidence or 100% confidence), the difference is in between.

Logical behavior produces logical results.

The problem, however, is that online players aren't rational. Or logical. Or in many cases even conscious. If you're focusing, specifically, on low buy-in tournaments, player behavior is more accurately reflected by this graph - again, with more aggressive players being in the pink zone, and tight nits in the gray zone:

Players in low buyin online donkfests fall into two categories: Mouth-breathing morons who will shove their stack at any time, and people whose tighty whities are three sizes too small and won't release a chip without a doctor's note. There is still some correlation between risk and reward, but it's largely limited to extremes - which is what leads to the prevalence in donkfests of preflop all-in confrontations. Think about that - both the abundance of AA vs KK matchups and those between, say, AA and 85s are accounted for. They simply happen more often when more players exhibit more extreme (i.e. illogical) behavior.

How do you adjust you game to deal with this reality? Well ...


Did you really think I have any idea? Go to the back of the class.

Sorry, that was a pretty elaborate setup for Paintroll, wasn't it? Apologies if you actually read the whole thing.


Fuel55 said...


Julius_Goat said...


This is awesome.

23skidoo said...


$mokkee said...


Drizztdj said...

I approve.

Blinders said...

I think you nailed it. Nice post.