Saturday, 16 February 2013

Play a Replay!

So just wanna blog this real quick. Its so cool! In the new Starcraft 2 2nd Expansion "The Heart of the Swarm" which will be released in 2 weeks time they have introduced a really awesome feature.

You can find a replay of a match, and pause the replay at any time... and then if you want can play the game out in their place starting at that point!

I like to think of this of being like looking at a match in Chess, and then putting yourself in their positions and playing it out.

This feature is really awesome, as it allows you to experience what other players are experiencing, but at a higher level it means that pro's will be able to practice certain situations a lot more easily and therefore the games should be of a much higher quality.

The game releases in 2 weeks I cant wait!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Strategy (The Future) and Short Term Actions (The Present)

In all games there is a strategy which helps you complete your goals. Strategy is important as its the foundation towards what you intend to do. Adjusting to your opponent's strategy can create some really interesting games.

On the flip side, there are certain things that you can do in these games that is more present based, and these collectively help to win the game. Strategy and the Short Term actually are a combination, and work hand in hand with each other. However a lot of people tend to think of them as separate things.

In Chess sacrificing your Queen is considered one of the worst things to do. But in certain situations the long term strategy of doing it can lead you to the win further down the line.

As an example, in Tennis a short term "trick" is say how Andy Murray is a great all round player, and has good groundstrokes from the back court. The shots are the short term actions because they are the shots that happen in the present, and effect the game at the time. However, the reason why he is so good is because he has a good strategy vs certain players and adjust his play. Verses a hard hitter, his long term strategy will be to mix up his shots to throw off his opponent's rhythm, adding in slices and drop shots. Verses a more all round player, maybe he will find his edge by having longer rallies and tire his opponent. Either way, the long term strategy helps him win games and his short term helps him implement it.

In poker the short term action is the actual hand. In tournament poker the aim of the game in SNGs its to be the last guy with all the chips, meaning that strategy counts for a lot more. In cash games, what happens in the short term counts as actual real money. So finding the balance between deciding what to do making choices based on your strategy and the short term actions is really important, because sometimes they can be contradictory.

General strategy for a 9 man SNG is to be very tight at the beginning, and then be looser at the end. The idea behind this strategy is that the money is comes so far down the line, that it is not worth it to lose chips at the beginning, and most players will knock each other out before it reaches that point.

However, one can argue that the short term actions of playing hands is that the fish are so bad that they will give you the chips that will help you later on.

Both biases make sense, both are opposites... one more biases to fold, the other more bias towards playing hands. This is what makes SNGs so confusing half the time.

Here is another example;

Its 3 handed; T250/500, in the money.

Bob - 6000 BTN Shove
Mike - 2500 SB Call
Hero - 4500 BB... Call or Fold w/ JTs?

So lets look at this hand from a strategy POV. Strategy says that you should be tight at the beginning, and looser at the end.

In this situation, if we simplify this hand there are 6 scenarios that happen, that could justify calling, knowing that you are behind their hands. Keep in mind, that if the chip leader wins this hand, the payouts go as the chip counts are.

1. Bob beats both your hands, and therefore you come 2nd. (GOOD)
2. You beat both of them, and go heads up, as Bob beats Mike. (VERY GOOD)
3. Mike beats both of you, but you beat Bob for the side pot. Play continues 3 handed and stacks are evened out. (BAD BUT STILL ALIVE)
4. Mike beats both of you, and Bob beats you and you are knocked out in 3rd place. (VERY BAD)
5. is the same as 1 because Bob can beat both of us, but I can beat Mike or Mike can beat me, but in both scenarios it doesn't matter because if he beats us both he wins. (GOOD)
6. You beat both of them, but Mike beats Bob, but that it irrelevant because you beat Mike and knock him out. (VERY GOOD)

So looking from an only "scenario" outcome (not looking at hand strengths or whatever) if you call here with your decent showdownable hand, there is 2 very good scenarios, 2 good scenarios, a bad but still alive scenario, and 1/6 chance of getting knocked out.

The fact that it is bb500, meaning there is a really low amount of big blinds in play, makes this call even better, because there is less manoeuvrability in play. Its so interesting that your first assumption in this hand is to fold, because the "present" logic is that your hand is not ahead of theirs considering the action. But thinking about it closely, it is a lot more favorable then it seems.

As I said, its all about balance tho, not one or the other. The best players adjust their biases according to the certain situations. I hope that this post helps players start to think more rather then shoving blindly into each other and just assuming that because something it profitable in the "now" it is profitable in the overall, which just isn't true.