CORDIAL MINUET ENSEMBLE

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#1 2014-11-21 10:41:38

Asminthe
Member
Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 44

My first thoughts after playing today.

I guess, from the e-mail that referred to people 'sneaking in', that I wasn't supposed to be able to find a way to access the game.  I hope I didn't cause any problems or distress by doing so, I didn't realize that I shouldn't have been trying.

With that out of the way, I've been playing as much as I could today, and waiting for an opponent otherwise, and I figured it might be useful (or at least entertaining) to Mr. Rohrer and others for me to share my initial reaction to the game.

Pertinent background information: I love most kinds of games, but am especially attracted to games that manage to be very deep with simple rules. I have played a lot of online poker in the past, pretty seriously for a while until Full Tilt and Pokerstars closed to US players, and that obviously colors my perception of other gambling games.

Here are my thoughts:

1) The game is a lot more interesting than the Kotaku article let on, and I was already looking forward to it after reading about it there. The article had been disappointing because it completely glossed over the most important aspect of the game: the betting rounds. It was a typical non-gambler perspective on a betting game. I was left trying to guess at things like "what order do players bet in?" I had been assuming that poker betting skills would more-or-less translate directly to this game, and was expecting that to work in my favor, but was pleasantly surprised to find a different and exciting style of betting rules to play with. It is going to be a long time before I'll be comfortable doing anything but speculating about whether this form of betting is better or worse for the game than poker style in-order betting would have been, but I love having a new kind of problem to think about.

The reveal round and extra round of betting was likewise unexpected and interesting.  It has some obvious effects like a strong influence on the ability to run a long bluff (tying your bluffing range in the last two streets more closely to your actual holdings instead of just your perceived range). But by simply adding an additional betting round, it also impacts bet sizing and pot control plays throughout the entire 'hand', solving one of the problems I'd expected to encounter from the Kotaku article's description of the game (I'd thought that 3 rounds of betting weren't going to be enough to create some of the interesting betting situations that arise in deep stack poker).

I'm a little afraid of some of the potential the reveal round has for diminishing the room skilled players have to get value from moderate strength hands after all the columns have been selected, and it commonly creates a situation where even a much weaker player has an obvious path to putting their opponent in a spot that is both frustrating and not sufficiently interesting to justify the percentage of the pot it represents by being at the end of the game. I'm referring to the "well he's got it or he doesn't" situation where both your actual score and entire range thanks to the reveal round exist sandwiched between your opponent's possible scores.  It's true that it's almost never actually the pure coin flip that it looks like, but it's often close enough to one that it's not fun for it to come up so often. I might be wrong to instinctively judge this as something of a downside, I have a feeling I'll be thinking about this part of the game a lot over the next few days.

2) The rake is too high. I know this sounds like the kind of thing you just expect that people will complain about regardless of how it's set, and I can definitely understand wanting to err in the direction of too high to begin with, so you end up never having to raise it and face a backlash from the players, but at 10% I can see it having a large negative impact on player retention, primarily in the following ways:

The non-casual players who would be in it for the long term are going to be doubting whether the game is even winnable.  Obviously the game is not yet well studied, but it at least looks as though getting enough of an edge against random opponents, on average, to be profitable even after the rake is going to be very difficult. Professional and serious amateur gamblers keep track of these things, and they're not going to like seeing that even when they manage to fight their way to an incredible 18% edge over their opponent, they are making less money for the effort than the house is.  Poker sites generally both take a smaller percentage and have a cap which is relatively smaller as the buy-ins increase. A site might have a 5% rake with a $200 buy-in NLHE rake cap at something like $3 maximum rake per hand. A shove and a call would net the house $3, while the same play at those stakes in Cordial Minuet right now (to my understanding) would mean $40 disappears from the game. On top of all that, most serious poker players aren't actually paying full rake anyway, as we get rakeback deals that return somewhere around 30% of our rake to us each week as incentive to keep playing on that site.

Casual players might not think about things like how the rake impacts their long term winnings, but they will see how every game starts with 200 coins on the table and most end with like 160 or less. When it's that obvious how much money is disappearing from the player economy, even the fish notice and feel uncomfortable.  This is exacerbated by the fact that there's no way for either player to top up their stack once at a table, making it really easy to see the total on the table moving steadily in a bad direction.

3) It would be nice to be able to add-on coins between hands. The game (like poker) plays very differently when you have 99 coins behind you during the first round of betting than it does when you have 80 or less, and the lower you get the less room there is for your skill to get you caught back up, because the potential value of all decisions made later in the game has been reduced.

4) I'd like to be able to see the list of games available to join while I am waiting for a player. I might be trying to start a game for higher stakes than someone else is comfortable with, but would be fine playing for the lower amount if I knew they were out there trying to start a game. I spent a lot of the day waiting for an opponent but having to periodically cancel so that I could confirm that there weren't other games waiting that I could be joining. Maybe this won't be as important when there are more people playing, but even then it would be nice to know what other stakes are available and to have some indication of how many other people want to play.

I didn't mean for most of this post to turn out sounding negative or to end up being half feature requests. My overall impression of the game so far is a good one, and I'm really itching to play some more tomorrow, but the reactions I had that are most easily settled and transcribed are the shallow ones. Most of the things spinning in my head now are good, but it will be a little while before I've processed them enough to really talk about them, and even then I might not want to give up my thoughts on some aspects of the game that easily for potential competitors to examine.

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#2 2014-11-21 16:04:14

jasonrohrer
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Registered: 2014-11-20
Posts: 801

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

This is EXACTLY the kind of feedback I'm looking for.

Yeah, I left the old "mildercaution" folder there by accident today (that was the old secret code word for my very early testers), and a few people typed "milder" and "caution" into the box when I tweeted about the DOOR today.  I had also created the new "originensemble" forum without thinking that the old key still worked.  Three people guessed the old key and go through before I closed it.  Doing it that way is even BETTER than being invited, so welcome!  smile

The rake is a tough one, because I'm trying to keep it super simple.  I agree that it's way too high right now.

What I want to avoid is raking fractions of a chip.  Right now, it rakes one chip if the pot is at least 10 chips, rakes 2 if it's 20, and so on.... but 20 chips if both players push.  Obviously, when both players push the pot way up, the rake really adds up after several rounds.

So, let's talk about caps in terms of whole chips.  Maybe it stays as 10% (never raking at all for pots that are 9 or fewer chips), but caps the rake at X chips.  What is the ideal X here?

How much back-and-forth do we want to allow on one-buy-in before the rake starts taking a huge chunk?  That could help set X.  What is a huge, noticeable chunk?  Like, if you slowly win everything over time and walk away with 180 chips, that seems okay, right?  Last night, I watched a few games in person where there were only 130 chips left at the end... OUCH.  So, the per-round cap could be 2 chips, which would allow the table to live for 10 rounds before the rake started getting too painful.  I guess I'd set it to 4 at first just to be safe and the lower it later if 4 feels too big.

Another point is that the house should never take more than the winner, even over the long run.  So, this could be handled with a global rake cap for the life of the table, where the rake would stop after it hit 20% of the table's chips (and then the players would play for free after that as long as the table lived).  This is interesting, though it feels a big more complicated and less visible (players see the rake stop mysteriously after a point).


As far as re-buys go... I intentionally avoided that for a few reasons.

--It complicates the game (when are they allowed to rebuy, how long do they have to do it, etc.)

--It makes each table less clear cut (we don't play until one is out, there are more that 200 chips at the table, it could go on forever)

--It encourages a kind of predatory and exploitative environment where you can really milk someone who is tilting (or just weak) for many buy-ins, encourages weak players to throw good money after bad---in general, it just feels more like "problem gambling" to me.  If the rebuy is capped, the other player always has chip advantage anyway, so you're buying back into a disadvantaged situation on many levels.  I'd say you only do that when you're tilting.  The game tells you to walk away and start a new game with a clean slate instead.


The reveal step at the end was added after the Kotaku article.  I felt like the final betting round was too much in the dark without it.  Without it, your opponent has 6 possible scores that are often in a huge range.  I had the feeling that in Holdem, you actually have MORE information by the end about what your opponent might have when making your final bet (you can see three of their cards, after all).

So, the reveal gives one more betting round, which is good (same number as Holdem).

But post-reveal, there are only four possible situations (ignoring ties):
--We both know who won
--One of us knows and the other doesn't (and both know who knows)
--Neither of us know.
--One of us knows and the other doesn't (and the non-knower isn't sure about whether the knower knows).

The last two cases look the same on the score graph.  (Actually, this is a bit more nuanced than I thought it was... I'll have to get out some paper and work out the possibilities later.)

I was also hoping to have an interesting choice with the reveal at the end, but in practice, it is usually a forced choice.  At least it's a much less interesting choice than the choices so far.

So, anyway, you're making one last bet, but the possibility space is pretty narrow at that point, so it's often pretty anticlimactic.  I'm not totally happy with it, but I also haven't worked out any alternatives.  The game without the reveal step felt too much like a shot in the dark, even at the final bet.

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#3 2014-11-21 22:03:24

Asminthe
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Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 44

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

I can see why re-buys are a tricky subject, and I absolutely approve of the philosophy of looking out for casual/weaker players. I am generally of the opinion that things that are good for the most casual players have a positive effect that trickles up the food chain and benefits everyone, so long as it does not harm the skill component of the game.  For this reason, I am in favor of the current trend toward making sure a table 'ends' and that a shark isn't feeding off the same tilting fish for hours at a time or something.

However, the only stack size that matters at a heads up table is the smallest one (as it sets the maximum either player can risk in the hand), and the smaller it is, the lower the skill cap for play in each hand. The inability to rebuy means there are often situations where the effective skill gap between the two players keeps shrinking as optimal betting strategy moves closer and closer to "Get it all in after the first round with any reasonable range advantage". If I'm a good player looking to maximize my winnings over time, and I sit down at a table and lose 30+ and I can't rebuy, my best move is to leave and join a new game, where I can play with a full stack behind me so my skill has room to come through. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this applies just as much in the situation where I win 30+ chips from the other player. If I continue to play with them, it becomes less and less profitable to continue playing against them, because my edge is decreasing as the game gets easier to play as a result of a shrinking effective stack size.

This also has the potential to create a bad experience for casual players, as from their perspective the most common situation will be "That guy came in, played just a few hands, won 30 of my chips and immediately left", which absolutely feels like being preyed upon.

There is also a particularly bad situation when a lack of re-buys is paired with the table rake total cap idea (which I otherwise think might be worth exploring). I'd be forced to choose between staying where I know the rake is closer to capping or going to a new table where I have more room to profit from skillful play, and that doesn't sound like a fun choice to have to make all the time. It might partially cancel out the tendency skilled players would have to leave when the effective stack size has dropped, but the reason they'd be staying wouldn't exactly feel great to them.

Of course, there's also a problem with the table rake total cap if re-buys are allowed, because then people can play arbitrarily long without the house getting a cut once the initial cap is reached.

I'm not sure what the best solution is to either of these problems, and they both have the potential to complicate each other.

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#4 2014-11-21 23:23:49

jasonrohrer
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Registered: 2014-11-20
Posts: 801

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

So, the skill cap you're talking about comes from lack of granularity in betting as the small stack gets smaller, right?  At the start, we both have 100 gradations between the ante and all-in, so choosing the right bet is a subtle thing.

Toward the end, when one player is down to 10 chips, then there are only 10 betting gradations.

It's almost like, at this point, the problem could be solved by taking the smaller stack, dividing it into 100 parts, and issuing each player differently-valued chips.  That would restore granularity and thus push the skill cap back up, right?

I'm not saying that I would use this solution (for many obvious reasons).  It's just an example to help me understand what you're getting at.

I'm currently leaning away from the idea of a total table rake cap and leading toward the idea of a per-round rake cap.

Also, as some empirical data on the current rake:

$52.28 was the total buy-in so far today over 47 games.  The total rake has been $2.65.  Thus, even though the rake is 10%, the fact that it is rounded down and only applies to the pot makes it come out to a 5% tax on the buy-in.

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#5 2014-11-22 00:22:59

Asminthe
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Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 44

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

The primary method by which the skill cap is modified by the effective stack size is the reduction of meaningful betting rounds. Rational players size their bets relative to the current pot, meaning the pot grows geometrically as a hand progresses. All of the decisions you make in early betting rounds are influenced by the knowledge that this hand might progress to the point that the bets will be significantly higher than they are now, and this is lessened and eventually eliminated entirely as the stack sizes shrink relative to the blinds/antes.

As a skilled player, if we both have 100 coins, I may very well call a 4 coin bet in the first round even if my score is currently 1, under the assumption that outplaying you in the later rounds where the bets are larger will, on average, net me a profit even from this low starting point.  If, on the other hand, one of us only has 50 coins behind us, I have to tighten up (because it is no longer possible to make enough on great end game plays to justify losing these 4 coins each time I try to get there) and a large set of potentially interesting plays goes unexplored. Eventually this gets even worse.  Probably somewhere around 10-15 coins, the first betting round is now the only one that matters at all and if I'm facing a bet of 4 coins there my optimal play is incredibly obvious: fold all scores below x, shove all my coins with scores x or higher.  Simply calling becomes nonsense because then there's 10 coins in the pot and one of us only has 5 behind, making it all but impossible to fold to future bets, so my best course of action in the first betting round is to get it all in now the times I think I'm ahead of your range, and get out entirely the times I think I'm behind your range.

Increased granularity, while helpful for some aspects of skilled play (like subtle bet sizing adjustments based on increased understanding of how the other player thinks over time), is not the main issue here.  It's all about how big the biggest possible bet can get relative to the size of the pot at the very beginning of the game (in Cordial Minuet, 2 coins).  Subdividing coins (and an accompanying decrease in the size of the ante) would solve the problem not as much because of the subdivision but by having reduced the size of the starting pot, and it carries the enormous downside of having therefore reduced the stakes of the game by the same ratio as the coins were divided and the starting bet lowered.  People aren't going to want to suddenly be playing smaller pots (in terms of actual dollar value) or they would have joined a game at those stakes to begin with.

Last edited by Asminthe (2014-11-22 08:33:08)

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#6 2014-11-22 00:45:51

Asminthe
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Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 44

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

There is a model you can borrow from poker that would solve most of your problems, actually.  I don't know if I like it because it's based on tournament poker instead of cash games and while they are overlapping skill sets there are a lot of important differences.  That said, 2 player heads up SNGs are worth looking at.

The basic idea would be something like this:
1) 2 players agree to play for $1.
2) $1.80 is put into a prize pool, $0.20 goes straight to the house.
3) Both players start with 100 coins and the ante start at 1 coin, just like now.
4) Every x hands, the antes increase.
5) Players continue play until one player has all 200 coins, at which time that player is credited $1.80

This solves many of the re-buy problems, sets a definite end to the game, and radically simplifies rake while also giving you the ability to set it to exactly what you want to get per game.

The downside is that it retains all of the "skill gap for any given hand decreases as the game progresses" problems I was just complaining about, but this is partially balanced out by the fact that it introduces aspects of tournament poker strategy that were otherwise missing. Poker players all have different opinions on these trade-offs, which is why both tournaments and cash games remain popular and there are players that only concentrate on one or the other.

I personally tend to prefer cash games because I think the skills involved there are often more interesting and tournament poker can lead to long stretches of robotic play because there aren't enough meaningful choices to make on small stacks. It does sound like switching to a tournament model could simplify a lot of things for you though.

Edit:

Oh, I forgot to mention that it also has the downside that it would make it harder for people to play very short sessions or to have as much control as they'd like about when to stop playing.

Last edited by Asminthe (2014-11-22 05:19:18)

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#7 2014-11-22 01:36:24

jasonrohrer
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Registered: 2014-11-20
Posts: 801

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

Wow, your input here has been very valuable!  Please keep it up!

I am planning on having a tournament mode for this game, but that will be an entirely separate mode (and of course, I'm also thinking about different and more elegant way to run the tournament than the standard rising blind thing).

I now see what you mean about the relative size of the antes going up over time as the smaller stack shrinks.  Then again, in this game, antes aren't blinds, because the hand you're dealt isn't random.

But... another question:  even in poker where re-buys are allowed, they are not required.  I don't really feel like there's pressure for the chip-advantage player to walk away when the small stack gets small.  I mean, you do have chip advantage, right?  Yeah, skillful play diminishes, but I'm not sure it leads to the situation that you described (a player taking 30% of the chips in the first hand and then leaving)---wouldn't they want to press their chip advantage?

Finally, I see a ton of "big" play in this game so far.  Like, half their stack in the middle by the end of their first round.  I'm curious about why this is happening, and about why I don't see similar behavior in heads-up poker.  I'm guessing that it's just beginner play, with people overbetting.  Also, that it's due to the small stakes.  If each chip was a dollar, I think people would play differently, and tables would last much longer.

The point is, this big play exacerbates the problem you are describing.  The small stack shrinks quickly when both players are pushing a lot of chips in.

Or maybe it has something to do with the simultaneous betting?  I'm not sure.

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#8 2014-11-22 01:58:46

jasonrohrer
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Posts: 801

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

Okay, I put a 4-coin rake cap in place per round.  So, the rake is still 10%, but the rake stops increasing when the pot is over 40 coins.

Pot Size vs Rake:

0-9  : rake = 0
10-19  : rake = 1
20-29  : rake = 2
30-39  : rake = 3
40-200  : rake = 4

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#9 2014-11-22 02:34:27

Asminthe
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Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 44

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

Chip advantage only matters if both players have to play until someone busts.  When both players are free to leave the table at any time, the only thing that matters is the size of the smallest stack, not which player has it, because each hand is effectively its own game and nobody has to stick around and live with the new stack situation once the hand is finished if they don't want to.  In tournament play a larger stack can abuse the fact that their tournament life is not at risk while the smaller stack's is, but this is only the case because of the larger game (the tournament) that exists outside of the hand that is being played.

One example of this is the typical coin flip situation. In a cash game, if you know for a fact that you have at least 50% equity in the pot, you will always call a shove even if it puts you all in. It doesn't matter if you lose this one, because on average you will at least break even by always making this play. In a tournament, there is no way you would do this unless your stack is small enough that the odds of a better situation coming up before you get blinded out are too small for you to wait. The key difference is that staying in the tournament is more valuable than all of your chips are.  The relative value of staying alive in the tournament, in chips, is one of the interesting dynamics in tournament poker, and this is where most of the value of having more chips than your opponent comes from, not from the direct impact a larger stack has on the outcome of any given hand (which is none, as neither player can bet more than the smaller stack).

In terms of rebuying, adding on, topping up, etc., it's important to note that these are very different things in tournament poker than they are in cash games (even if they look the same on the surface, spending more money to get more chips), and that all of my discussion on the topic so far has been about cash games, which are the direct poker equivalent of Cordial Minuet in its current state.

It's true that it is never required. Skillful players will always buy up to the maximum every chance they get (or at least 100 blinds if the maximum is even higher than that), and usually don't enjoy playing against small stacks unless the small stack is sufficiently bad that potential profits outweigh what the player could expect to find by playing in a deeper game where they can utilize more of their skill.

Those of us coming from poker will be used to situations where the other person won't top up and we're forced to play small stack poker for a while, but it's a very different feeling when we are sitting on a small stack and don't have the option to correct the situation, except by leaving and joining another game, which doesn't feel good because we might be convinced we're better than the person who just got a chunk of our stack and would like to be able to utilize all of our deep stack skill to get our money back from that person and the option to try has been taken away from us.

Regarding the huge bets that are currently going on: People are bad at the game. The fact that incredibly low stakes are permitted by the game (which I love, by the way, it's great that people can play for .01 cent antes) means there will almost certainly always be people playing that way. The way it's likely to work out is that you'll see a lot of that at a wide range of stakes early on, and then it will be pushed down into lower and lower stakes over time, as the level of skill required to continue playing for long periods at any given level without going broke too quickly steadily increases.

I'm not even close to being able to talk meaningfully about the impact of simultaneous betting yet.

Last edited by Asminthe (2014-11-22 05:10:34)

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#10 2014-11-22 05:36:07

Asminthe
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Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 44

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

I went through my posts and replaced "blinds" where it was inaccurate. There weren't any situations discussed where the distinction actually matters (the important part was always the size of the pot at the start of the game), but I should probably make sure I'm not too loose with terminology, in general, to avoid potential confusion.

While I'm on the subject, if you have preferred terms for any of the following, I'd love to know them:

- A betting round (the period beginning after both players confirm a non-bet action and ending when the players are allowed to make their next non-bet action)
- A single 'game' (the period starting with antes going into the pot and ending with one player being awarded the pot)
- The entire time spent with one opponent between both players joining the game and someone leaving
- The two different types of non-betting actions players take during the game (column selection and number reveal)
- An individual 'number' on the board
- The sum of all the numbers a player has (score?)

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#11 2014-11-22 09:25:48

..
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Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 259

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

(Note: I didn't bother reading most of this thread as I couldn't understand much of it)

As someone with almost no poker experience (I didn't like poker because of the randomness; hopefully this eats the world), I was hoping that people wouldn't just borrow poker terminology to this game which becomes even harder to understand due to the various differences between the two. It would be nice if someone put up a thread for CM terminology once it's decided (by the masses).

On the topic of rakes, I would describe my first reaction to realising the rake was 10% as "alarm". Even worse when I saw it add up to 70 coins in one game. A max of 4 coins per round is far more reasonable, though the 10% still sounds high, especially if poker players are used to much smaller percentages, so suggest adjust that rather than the cap.

Last edited by .. (2014-11-22 09:26:24)

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#12 2014-11-22 20:05:23

jasonrohrer
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Registered: 2014-11-20
Posts: 801

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

Well, in Poker, chips can be divided into smaller denominations.  I'm never raking fractions of a coin, so that means that in most hands (at least as I expect people to play, eventually, when they stop betting so big), there is no rake.  As the percentage gets smaller, the situations in which there's actually a rake get more and more rare.  So, a 5% rake, which I am considering, would mean that any pot with less than 20 coins in it would have no rake at all.  Maybe 20+ coin pots will be the norm for most games anyway---that remains to be seen.

I AM trying to avoid poker terminology here, though it is easy to slip into.

I wasn't trying to be pedantic with the blind/ante distinction.  Regardless of that distinction in poker, "blind" implies a shot in the dark, which is appropriate in poker, because the winner of a hand is determined by a random number generator.  In this game, I don't know what to call it, because each fresh round is another chance to read your opponent and set their score.

For terminology:

"Starting coin" (for the ante)

"Picking columns."

"Revealing a square"

"Betting coins"

(I think "match" and "raise" will have to stay.)

Maybe instead of "rake" the term "tribute" should be used.  smile

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#13 2014-11-22 20:26:42

Asminthe
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Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 44

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

I like how "tribute" fits the theme.  Might I suggest that those coins burst into flames on their way off the screen?

Both antes and blinds are 'blind' as you describe it, and the actual distinction is that what are usually referred to simply as 'blinds' are actually 'blind bets' in that they are a functional part of the first betting round, and must be called, raised or folded to by anyone who wishes to continue the game.  This is why my loose use of the word was actually wrong for this game, as nobody must (or even has the option to) respond to starting coin as though it were actually a bet in a betting round, making it functionally an ante instead. I corrected it mostly for my own sake and didn't think you a pedant.

What you might end up wanting to do with tribute, especially if you consider reducing it to 5%, is increase the stack sizes and starting coins. If everyone has 1000 coins in their stack and the pot starts with 10 starting coins from each player, then the game will play almost exactly as it does now (actually slightly improved by increased granularity) but you'd have much more flexibility setting tribute without losing out entirely in small pots. I strongly recommend you make sure that no tribute is ever paid from a pot that is never raised, though, so that if optimal play tends toward very tight people aren't watching all the money slowly leak away without any significant gameplay occurring.

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#14 2014-11-22 20:45:54

jasonrohrer
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Registered: 2014-11-20
Posts: 801

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

Hmm...

That's an interesting idea!

There's just one problem.... I coded everything in the game around balances with 4 decimal places.  The game tracks thousandths of a dollar, but that's it.  If I allowed a penny to be divided into 1000 parts, I'd need to go to ten-thousandths of a dollar.


Also, though I think that rebuys would be pretty straight-forward to implement (a rebuy button that shows up if you're small-stacked when waiting for the next round to start, and all it does is top you up to 100 coins), this game has a huge critical mass problem that poker does not have.

As a player coming online, you serve as an opponent for exactly one other player at a time.  In poker, you serve as an opponent for 8 other players at your table.  If there are only two players online, a new players that come on can join into that existing table.

In this game, even if there are 1000 players online, the 1001-st player is out of luck---no partner available.  UNTIL one of the 1000 players leaves a game and looks for a new one.

Rebuys would exacerbate this problem.  To help with critical mass and reduce wait times, I want players leaving games and looking for new ones.

I've actually been losing a ton of sleep over critical mass.  That's the main issue on my mind right now.  The game had 22 active players yesterday, but there were still almost never any games available.  Even when I tried to play, I found myself waiting for many minutes to find an opponent.

I feel like an idiot for not thinking of this when I designed it.  I avoided designing a game for multiplayer tables because I didn't want to have to deal with collusion between players.  I also find that the amount of waiting that happens at 9-player poker tables is annoying---I much prefer playing at 2-player-only tables.  I thought, "The only reason poker rooms have 9-player tables is for economic reasons---one dealer paid for 9 people playing.  There's no reason to do that online, because the dealer is a computer."

But I was wrong about that.  9-person tables, even online, helps with critical mass.  If one player can't find a table and starts a new, empty table, that serves as an instant-game table for the next 8 players who join.

And man... even right now, mid-day on Saturday, I've been sitting here waiting more than 5 minutes for someone to join my game...

Whoa, someone just joined!

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#15 2014-11-22 21:19:22

Asminthe
Member
Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 44

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

Poker sites that aren't very large actually still have the same problem (and even very large ones do at the highest stakes). I play 6-handed tables generally, and it is quite common that I'll come online and see 4-5 tables running at the stakes I want, all completely full with waiting lists to join.  Sometimes this happens even though there are more than enough people on the waiting lists to start a new table, and sometimes 4 of the people at each table actually playing are the same 4 people. It's actually possible for there to be more unique individuals in the waiting lists for 4 tables than there are unique individuals actually playing at those tables. It's maddening starting a new table and watching nobody join it because they'd all rather be on the wait list for those already full tables than risk having to play heads-up or 3 handed long enough for more people to join.

Anyway, one thing you could look into is duplicating the behavior of something like Full Tilt's Rush Poker, where as soon as you're out of one hand you're immediately put into another hand at another table of the same stakes.  Everyone who wants to play at those stakes is in one big pool of players and each hand your opponents are  more or less randomly selected from that pool (actually selected from the players in the pool who are also ready for a new hand at roughly the same time).

This both guarantees that nobody is sitting there opponentless forever as long as 1 or more other players are playing for the same stakes and makes it so nobody is being beat up by the same opponent for a prolonged length of time if others are available to play.  You'd have to decide what you want to do about player stacks though, either forcing everyone to top up to 100 coins between each game or allow situations where there could be wide ranges of stack sizes involved when people have been playing for a while.

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#16 2014-11-22 21:37:49

jasonrohrer
Administrator
Registered: 2014-11-20
Posts: 801

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

Well, I do want to preserve "Multiple Rounds vs one opponent" because that's where the core reading skill comes into play.

It's strange.  I almost think it shouldn't work.... whatever this reading skill is.  But I just beat someone by getting my top possible score (higher than any of their 6 scores, even before reveal) three rounds in a row at the end, and giving them one of their lowest possible scores (out of their final 6) each time.

I'm starting to pay close attention to what they give me on turn one, and just flat assuming they will make a similar choice next round on turn one.  An advanced player would be looking at the final reveal and remembering the column order to figure out what the opponent was giving themselves on turn one.  I'm not there yet.

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#17 2014-11-22 21:51:06

Asminthe
Member
Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 44

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

Hey, I don't need you in here teaching people how to play.

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#18 2014-11-22 22:28:35

jasonrohrer
Administrator
Registered: 2014-11-20
Posts: 801

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

Yeah, when are you posting that Strategy 101 video on YouTube?  smile

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#19 2014-11-22 23:41:22

Asminthe
Member
Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 44

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

If I ever get to the point that I feel like I'm really getting good at the game, maybe I'd consider putting some work into something to teach other people how to be at least not terrible.

So like, right now I'm assuming my skill is around a 2 or 3 on a 10 point scale.  If I get up to around a 5 or 6 I'd probably be happy to give lessons aimed at bringing people who are around a 1 up to a 3.

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#20 2014-11-23 07:01:59

..
Member
Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 259

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

I've actually been losing a ton of sleep over critical mass.  That's the main issue on my mind right now.  The game had 22 active players yesterday, but there were still almost never any games available.  Even when I tried to play, I found myself waiting for many minutes to find an opponent.

I've found it pretty easy to find games today. I think I saw 3 open games at one point. This is probably due due to checking the users graph and turning up when it's active. And there seems to be a certain someone who's been hanging around all day. Plus even if there are no games open, it seems like some people (myself included) irrationally sometimes would rather wait for someone else to open a game rather than doing it themselves.

As for reading skill, I think that every game I played today was against the same person today. I could recognise them from their actions even before confirming by checking the scoreboard. They probably knew it was me too. Eventually I started to learn their strategies but before that I was losing quite consistently.

Although as I said I have little poker experience, opponent modelling seems far more interesting and important in this game than poker, because you get so much more information, especially on the first turn (whereas during the later ones you don't know what the opponent's choices were). This is wonderful, though it often feels like betting is still more important than selecting columns.

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#21 2014-11-24 00:50:15

jere
Member
Registered: 2014-11-23
Posts: 298

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

From the Kotaku article:

Players can't choose who they play against, and they can't communicate with their opponents. Rohrer figures that, if they could, then one person on one side of the country could intentionally match-make with someone on the other, put a large amount of money on the line and then throw the game, essentially wiring money to their friend.

Isn't this completely negated by being able to specify stakes? Need to transfer $20,000? Set your stakes to $19,876.54. Worst case, a random wealthy third party joins and you lose $200 on the first coin. And even that seems pretty unlikely.  I was wondering if creating a finite number of stake options or limiting to one significant digit would help, but I don't think it would. Perhaps what you have is enough to say you've at least made a good faith effort to prevent this kind of thing? I dunno.

I'm starting to pay close attention to what they give me on turn one, and just flat assuming they will make a similar choice next round on turn one.

Heh. One of the things I like doing is playing what I feel is a "newb" move on the first turn to both a) see if the other player is expecting it and b) trick my opponent into thinking that's my playstyle. Is there really such a thing as I newb move? With all the second guessing, I suppose not, but picking the column with 36 feels like it to me. There's definitely a reading aspect.

(Note: I didn't bother reading most of this thread as I couldn't understand much of it)

I really tried. Stack? Shove? I looked up some of these terms, but almost everything Asminthe is going over my head. I'm awful at poker. Every time I play is essentially a charity drive for my friends. I really appreciate how CM tells me exactly which possibilities exist. Thus I can focus on reading and betting, instead of spending all my mental effort doing probability calculations. Seems like that makes it a lot more beginner friendly. The game is a lot simpler than I expected after reading the Kotaku article.

I've found it pretty easy to find games today.

I think I waited close to 2 hours this morning on a game. Too satanic for Sunday morning I guess? I had a similar complaint during TCD testing, but it'll probably be a non-issue when the game opens up. Still, it'd be nice if the waiting screen had something else to it. A way to browse leaderboards? An option to doodle while I wait (appropriately themed to CM) or some creepy visualization?

I wish I had more helpful suggestions. The only thing that really bothers me is that the "old balance" value is post-stakes. I'd rather see where I was before I joined the game at all, so I know if I came out on top.


Canto Delirium: a Twitter bot for CM. Also check out my strategy guide!

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#22 2014-11-24 02:14:39

Asminthe
Member
Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 44

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

I agree that the game is more beginner friendly than poker! Assuming zero beforehand knowledge, it would be much faster to get someone up to a reasonable level of play in this than it is in poker, which I think is going to be pretty cool.

I'm sorry I throw out a lot of terms and ideas that are completely foreign to most people, usually I'm trying to get across a lot of information in a small paragraph and sometimes I forget that even relatively simple poker terms are nonsense to most people (it would never even have occurred to me, for example, to define 'stack'). If I ever start writing about Cordial Minuet strategy I'll make it a point to be very careful about what I say.

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#23 2014-11-24 03:32:05

jere
Member
Registered: 2014-11-23
Posts: 298

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

Thanks for that, though at least half of it is just how complex the scenarios are that you're describing. It sounds like that is valuable info for Jason though so keep at it!


Canto Delirium: a Twitter bot for CM. Also check out my strategy guide!

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#24 2014-11-24 06:17:22

..
Member
Registered: 2014-11-21
Posts: 259

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

I went and read a poker glossary for half an hour and feel much better now. I have to admit, a lot of these terms translate directly and it obviously makes sense to use existing terminology that poker players will understand, but agree that borrowing terms like "blind" isn't a good idea.

Rohrer figures that, if they could, then one person on one side of the country could intentionally match-make with someone on the other, put a large amount of money on the line and then throw the game, essentially wiring money to their friend.

Actually, I had a question about this. What if I want to donate a small amount (say $1) to a friend (whether by email or codename)? Use case: friend doesn't have a debit/credit card or doesn't trust the game enough to pull out their debit card. Use case 2: Someone wants to give away 10 accounts with a $0.50 balance without all the money going to the credit card company. But both cases require being able to create an account without depositing money in it.

jere wrote:

The only thing that really bothers me is that the "old balance" value is post-stakes. I'd rather see where I was before I joined the game at all, so I know if I came out on top.

Completely agreed.

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#25 2014-11-24 06:46:01

jasonrohrer
Administrator
Registered: 2014-11-20
Posts: 801

Re: My first thoughts after playing today.

There used to be a "transfer money" option for withdrawing (where, for free, you could just pass money to another account).  But I need to make sure that I'm not operating a "Money Service Business" (like PayPal) by accident.  There are all sorts of regs that would suddenly apply.

I agree that it would be nice to be able to gift 50 cent accounts to friends.  Hmm...  Still, I can't get near the territory of sending "You've Got Money" emails.  Granted, 50 cents can't be withdrawn on it's own.  Maybe if it was limited to a certain amount or something.

The anonymity is partially to thwart money laundering (though it doesn't totally thwart intentional money passing, obviously), and also just to ensure that each new game is a fresh slate (you can't carry knowledge about a given opponent from past games, you can't intentionally pick on a weak player repeatedly, etc.)  When you join a CM game, you could be playing against a first timer or against the best player in the world.  There's no way to tell.  Also, you all know how much I don't like xxxTheBosSxxx appearing in the aesthetic fabric of my games.

I'll look at fixing that Old Balance thing in v9.

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