January 20, 2012

Phil Galfond - Let's make some changes

For all of you who haven't read his blog entry yet:


I think he gives some good ideas, but tbh I don't really think that all of them would really "help" the economy. I'd like to present my thoughts on this topic:

1.) Screen name changes

Tbh, I like his idea, even so I believe it is not important to "have" this. It might be important at nl1k+, but at nl100/200, I don't really see a benefit for us. Of course, I can understand why he wants to have this type of changes, but in reality, it only makes it harder for us small stakes grinder to make money. It also should make it harder for the average player to move up in stakes. Well, now you might ask: "Why?" But think about it for a moment: Where do these type of changes make sense? In the games that already have a lot of games going or in the games in which everyone is sitting out and doesn't want to play each other?

I might be biased here a little bit, because I would call myself a 6m-player, and it might be completly different for HU games, but I think this solution isn't the one we need! I really believe that a lot of collusion/cheating observations were only successful, because everyone had access to the "right" screenname. That said I don't think that this solution wouldn't help a little bit, but as long as there are sites out there like PTR which track every screenname, the change doesn't help the playerpool at <=midstakes.

2.) Anonymous HU tables (6max)

Even so this would be a good solution for the recreational player, I don't think it is a good solution for poker in general. The key is pretty simple:

Poker is a game of dreams!

Think about why you started to play poker in the past. If course, it was a fun game to play, but in reality once we all did our first deposit, we all dreamed of living a life like durrrr, Antonius, Daniel Negreanu, Gus Hansen, etc. We wanted to make money and to become rich and famous! So why would it be bad?

It would be bad for the railbirds. I don't think that a lot of ss/ms pros watch nl5k+ games, but the recreational player does! If we would have anonymous tables he wouldn't be able to root for his favourite player. Think about it: You are watching the champions league final, but you have no clue who the teams are and who the players are. Even so you might be able to watch a great football game, it wouldn't be the same as if "your" team would be playing.

Like Phil Galfond, I don't think it is bad to have these games, but I don't really think that this would be a solution.

3.) HU tables/lobby

Infinite tables/KotH aren't the solution here as well. We need to get rid of the players who don't want to play poker! Infinite tables don't help for obv reasons and the KotH solution benefits good players way to much. This again is a solution that doesn't help <= midstakes players, and I believe a lot of people forget this.

Here we have the "poker is a game of dreams" problem again. Like in the real world, a lot of people want to have changes that benefit us all, even so these changes benefit the top x% only. We need to find a solution that benefits all of us! Well, not all of us.

Even so I think there is a lot of missconception in the word "bumhunter" I'll use it to keep things easier. The typical bumhunter is a parasit. What some people don't want to realize is that from a poker companys point of view, a winning player is a parasit, too! The question becomes, which type of winning player do they want to have? And again "Poker is a game of dreams", and so the solution here is pretty simple: They want to have the winning player who is willing to play everyone. I mean, which poker room wants someone to represent them who tells everyone: "I play you, but only if you suck at poker!" But, what is a good solution?

I like Phil Galfonds idea of "right click a player for a HU challenge" which is only viewable if both players agreed. I think we can use this and go one step further! Like I already said, pokerrooms shouldn't want to have bumhunters in their games. Like Phil Galfond wrote, they do pay the same amount of rake like everyone else, but if they wouldn't be playing someone else would! So there is no need to have him in the game. But how to handle this?

- HU tables

Like I already said, I want to have a solution which helps everyone, not only the high stakes players. I believe on pokerstars you are only allowed to open one HU table of one limit at the same time and you are allowed to add a second if you are playing on one. So let's say someone (player B) wants to play this player (A) who has 4 tables open. "A" plays a few hands, opens PTR, realizes that "B" has made thousands of dollars playing nl100, and now "A" goes on sitout. For me this was one of the most common situations that happened while I was trying to get into HU. My solution now is a pretty easy one:

Player "B" might now ask player "A" "What's up?" - "You are to good, I don't play you"; Now player "B" is allowed to kick player "A". What does this mean for "A"? He isn't allowed to open a "new" HU table for ~30 minutes now. Same works if player "A" all of the sudden leaves this game and wants to "start" a new one. After leaving a game you are not allowed to open a new game if player "B" puts a penalty on you.

The question is: Does this really help? I'd say yes. Think about it this way: If he plays for like 2 hours a day, a penalty of 30 minutes costs him 1/4 of his daily play time. But there might be a problem with this solution: Player "B" might now go for player "A", because he knows that he won't play him and in order to get a game he might now always join tables of player "A". So for one day player "B" shouldn't be allowed to join a table of player "A" again.

But, what can player "A" do, if he doesn't want to get the penalty? If he plays "B" for let's say 15 minutes (or at least ~30 hands) "A" is allowed to quit the game. If he then doesn't want to play "B" this day anymore, he is allowed to not play him without getting a penalty. This way "A" can continue his style of play (bumhunting), but it isn't that bad for the economy anymore as it was before.

- 6m/FR

What tilts me like always is if a recreational player lost his money and all of the sudden a player goes on sitout. He doesn't leave the table, he just goes on sitout! Like Phil Galfond I think this is an absolut no go! Think about it this way: You want to go out with your friends, but your friends will only go out with you if you pay for them. Doesn't feel that good, right?

I think we can have a pretty simple solution here. Like the one already mentioned for HU, I think the same would work for 6m/FR, too. If one player is on sitout (recreation player after losing his stack) other players aren't allowed to go on sitout. If they want to go on sitout they get kicked of the table if another player at this table puts a penalty on them. If a player reaches to many penaltys for the day he gets auto kicked from all the tables and is only allowed to continue playing the next day. In order to have a "secure" system, the player should have had at least a few penaltys before, because this solution might be used vs better players, too, if they only go on sitout for like 5 minutes, because they need to open the door, go to the toilette, etc.

This wouldn't hurt pokerrooms, because someone else would play in these games, and in order to have games going, this would be an awesome solution iMo.

4.) Round robin tables/games

I'm with Phil Galfond here. I think if someone wants to play a game, he has a reason for playing it. Some want to proof that they are the alpha male etc, and for someone like him I don't think it would be cool to play vs different players all the time. He wants to own the table, and not the playerpool. He wants everyone else to notice what he is doing.

So yeah, I think the option to play "rush" poker is cool, but it shouldn't be a "general" solution.

5.) Must move tables

This again is a solution I believe <= midstakes players don't really gain anything from. You should be allowed to table select to at least some degree. It might be a good solution for HU games, but here again we have the problem that some players won't play each other, while some players want to play a certain person! From a recreational players perspective, if I play HU just for fun, I want to tell my friends "Yesterday I played HU vs Phil Galfond and won 10k vs him!".

So I believe this solution is only good for games which aren't running regularly, but from a <= midstakes players point of view, I really don't see why we should want to have this.

6.) Rewards/Promotions for game starters and hands played

For hands played stars already has a VIP programm ;) So I don't think this needs to be done, especially because the typical bumhunter wouldn't play more hands because of a promo like this.

Rewards for game starters however I think are a really great solution! The one who is willing to start games is the one a pokercompany wants to have. So pay them a little bit more then the other players!

But I see one problem with this. All of the sudden the 6m games which are now running might not run anymore, because in order to get more money, a lot of people won't join a table as "2nd" player. So there should only be a reward if there aren't enough games running atm. Don't know how to calculate a "fair" solution for this, but pokerrooms should be able to find ways.

7.) Adressing the button war problem, games INSTA breaking

I guess I went over this at point 3). Tbh, I haven't really seen this "button war problem" that often at nl100/200. If this really is a problem at the limit games, I think there needs to be a good solution. But, playing for "extra" 20 minutes isn't the correct one. If you want to stop playing at 9pm and the game breaks at 8.50pm, I don't want to have to play 10 minutes more the I want to. I guess even here the "penalty" solution might be a good one.


Alright, I guess I wrote a lot and I don't think a lot of people will actually read this. But like I said, a lot of stuff isn't necessary for <= midstakes, and even so I believe a lot of things have to change, I believe the solutions should be fair for everyone, and not only for the top 1% of players.

Posted By CivSTAR at 12:56 PM



Apex93 posted on January 20, 2012 at 18:31 PM


For part 6 and rewarding the game starters. How about the players who play in the 1st hand are awarded? This way the games would run and quite often the 2nd player is the weakest player in that table, so even the random players might start feel like playing more since they get awarded for just sitting down and play few hands.

Jyhani posted on January 20, 2012 at 22:32 PM


It's good to remember that galfond is obviously biased in his statements. Like he has his own EV and profitability to think about when he thinks how to change the poker field...

CivSTAR posted on January 21, 2012 at 10:52 AM


For part 6 and rewarding the game starters. How about the players who play in the 1st hand are awarded? This way the games would run and quite often the 2nd player is the weakest player in that table, so even the random players might start feel like playing more since they get awarded for just sitting down and play few hands.
Tbh, I think this is a really tough one to find a fair solution. I think the first and second player should be awarded, because most of the time the 3rd+ player are only playing because of player 1 or 2. It might be a solution to give like 20% more VPPs to player 1 and 10% to player 2 or something like that. And like you said, the 2nd player most of the time is the weakest player, so it would be good to give him more in order to have him around for a longer time.

So yes, I think it makes a lot of sense to award the first two players who play a hand.

Also we might take it one step further. What if a game breaks? If only 2 people are left they should get an award, too, because they try to keep the games alive. So it should be the same like if they would "start" a new game, because I feel like it is the same.

Apex93 posted on January 21, 2012 at 18:10 PM


Changing the way the games run seems to be really hard, but also I also feel like that a change should be done. Not just thinking how to change the high stakes games, but also the smaller stakes games. Some good already has been done. For example sites changing to contributed reward system instead of using the dealt system.

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