Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Statistical WSOP Chip Lead Analysis

As the World Series of Poker season comes to an end in Las Vegas, we find ourselves with 9 players left in the Main Event to battle it out in November 9th.

Chip stacks are as follows going into the final table which resumes October 30th. Maybe this year's bunch should be renamed to being the "Not Quite November Nine" lol.

Pro MTT specialist Cliff Josephy "JohnnyBax" leads the field with 22% of the chips. These guys outlasted 6737 players and will be battling it out for a cool $8 million first prize.

1. Cliff Josephy (United States) 74,600,000
2. Qui Nguyen (United States) 67,925,000
3. Gordon Vayo (United States) 49,375,000
4. Kenny Hallaert (Belgium) 43,325,000
5. Michael Ruane (United States) 31,600,000
6. Vojtech Ruzicka (Czech Republic) 27,300,000
7. Griffin Benger (Canada) 26,175,000
8. Jerry Wong (United States) 10,175,000
9. Fernando Pons (Spain) 6,150,000

So this got me thinking, how likely statistically is it to win the main event if you hold the chip lead going into the final table? I'm sure as you guys all know (you bunch of smart poker players!) that in MTTs nothing is a certainty and anything can happen! For example in 2007 when Jerry Yang won it, Philip Hilm went from chip leader to 9th place in 16 hands!

But I decided to have a look anyways and see what the numbers said. I chose to do it from Moneymaker onwards, and yes its a small sample size for sure but he started the boom and since then its been harder to win since the entrants grew dramatically after his win.

My full spreadsheet is here, if you wanna add graphs and other things feel free to do so!

I ended up with these two tables;

Champions Chip Positions going to the Final Table;

As we can see 5 of our Champions went to the final table with the chip lead.  However, it must be stated that all 5 of them had a substantial lead over the 2nd place contender, unlike this year as 2nd place Qui Nguyen has 68 million chips which is only 6 million behind JohnnyBax.

Another interesting thing is that it is true that anything can happen, as Jerry Yang and Martin Jacobson both managed to take the title down going to the final table in 8th place. Their momentum from staying alive earlier on carried them all the way to winning.

But if you reach the final table in 9th place, it seems that you have [from this tiny sample size] actually no chance of winning at all. Do any of you guys who was the last person to win this event going to the final table in 9th place? I wonder how far back that would go...

Chip Leaders Finishing Positions;

Looking at this chart, only Darvin Moon hasn't managed to win the title when going to the final table when having more then 27% of the chips in play. If you have more then 22% of the chips you are statistically almost guaranteed at least a 2nd place prize.

Very Unreliable But Fun Conclusions
  • If we go by history and these numbers, it is likely that JohnnyBax will get 1st or 2nd place at worst because he has over 22% of the chips in play.
  • Going to the final table with more then 27% of chips in your stack means you will win the WSOP Main Event, unless you are Darvin Moon!
  • 9th place never wins. Statistically, if you wanna win the title then don't play to fold your way to the final table when short.

A Word on the Coverage

It feels sad to me that ESPN has the rights to the WSOP. I feel like it could be so much better if these events could be streamed live for free (with a delay) on As you've heard before I'm a huge fan of this site, the interactiveness of the chat allows for a more embracive experience.

I remember once the World Championship of Chess was going on, and this guy decided to commentate on it, with a duplicate of the board on the screen, as well as another one for him to play with potential moves that the grandmasters could do. His interactiveness with his audience, as well as great narration over the plays, explaining thought processes and other things made the stream great, gave him an audience of 30k people!

The coverage should be updated, it should be interactive and live. It should be available to everyone worldwide, not just an American audience and/or whoever is able to find the channel internationally to tune in through satellite. 

It would be nice to move on from this cheesey jokey commentator who both don't really understand the game that well or translate it for a wider audience to understand. Interactivity like including the audience in tweets, social media and possible competition giveaways etc should be the standard in trying to get poker more popular to a wider audience. Jcarver showed how this could work and did it well in the Aussie Millions, why cant WSOP be the same? (Yeah, I know... money)

Anyways, here I'll end it with possibly the biggest ICM suicide in WSOP history. Do you guys think that Cheong didn't think Duhamel had a hand, or that maybe put him on exactly what he had and was trying to make him fold it? Either way his image was pretty crazy already. A nice extra $1.5 million gift to the short stack Racener.

Monday, 11 July 2016

A Year Playing Spin and Go's

365 Days of Spins

Literally this date last year I decided to specialise in playing Spin and Go's. I had dabbled learning some 6 max cash when I got a deal to be coached and staked to play them.

I still like the way it is fast and furious, has a lot of recreational players and has the excitement of winning a big multiplier the way reaching a final table of a MTT does... without the 4 hours of getting there! The flexibility it allows reminds me of the days when you could load up games at any hour and still have great traffic. But especially for SNGs you would be lucky to load up half as many tables as before, loading up sets (register for say 18 tables at once!) just isn't a thing anymore you have to register continuous.

I also saw this as an opportunity to be better at playing recreationals. This is a very helpful skill to master, and a lot of poker players brush aside the time spent learning how to maximise your value vs these players. If you had a choice between being good at playing recreationals or regs, the guy who is better vs recreationals would surely make a ton more money.

There is a Casino close by to me which I don't go to enough, but I know there will be some terrible recreational players, some aggressive, others completely clueless, but I do feel a lot more confident in the seemingly stupid spots they put you in because Spins allows you to experience that on the virtual felt! :D

Another reason to try and get good at these is the fact that it seems that the industry is moving towards this direction. Nearly all other of the smaller sites include "Lottery SNGs", so learning these and adjusting to these changes can be a great thing for the future.

The Numbers

I'm not gonna go into too much depth into specific poker stuff as I like to keep this blog still understandable to the average Joe. But I thought it would be interesting to look at how the Pokerstars % numbers fair up vs my reality of hitting the big multipliers;

We can see that over this 20k sample of games, that I'm quite a bit below for what's expected for getting 10x's, a little bit below for 25x's, pretty much spot on for 100x's, and "double" for what is expected for the 200x.

What does this mean? That its reasonably accurate if we substitute how getting an extra 200x should "off weigh" the lower number of 10x's and 25x's. Probably means that I got more!

So what can we learn from this? Absolutely nothing practical at all! =D But its pretty fun to look.

I wont do below 10x multipliers as I haven't been tracking them [manually], and its hard to do it otherwise. Kinda a shame that Hold Em Manager 2 isn't able to tell you what multiplier you had when you don't win it.

Quick Tips for Spins
  • Whats your purpose? - You wanna grind these full time or just play every now and then? Work this out before playing. Playing multiple formats of poker at the same time isn't a good thing to do coz its a lot to learn. Don't be a Jack of all Trades, Master of None. That being said, if you wanna play these recreationally then jump in! You guys have as much chance as us in the big multipliers, I can talk since losing my first 3 big ones to recreationals!
  • Get a Coach/Group - If not at least a study group or something where you guys are chatting in Skype. Its extra important to get a bunch of players who have the same philosophy as you. For example if you like being more mathematical, then have a bunch of guys like that. Maybe you like min raising, super aggressive play, or maybe limping. Whats important is that they're winning players (so they know what they're talking about), and you guys are aligned in your thinking (contradictory advice will mess you up)
  • Big Bankroll Leeway - I'd say 150 buy ins is ok if you cant go busto. Of course if you can refill and are working etc then you can be more aggressive. The variance is rediculous and different amazing regs have seen very different graphs, so be prepared for it!
  • Don't Go Mass Tables - I play 3 tables, and might move up to 4 eventually. I don't see myself playing more then that. These games are 3 handed which means you are forced into playing a lot of hands. You probably should be playing more hands then you should be folding. The reason why you can mass multitable SNGs because you'll be folding a lot. Here max attention is needed for all spots.
  • EV bb/100 or Chip EV Rules All - Pay attention to this number. Move up stakes based more on this number then bankroll. Not that I'm saying ignore bankroll, but this is the best indicator for how well your doing.
  • Prepare for the Variance! - Feel like the unluckiest person in the world? You aint seen nothing yet if you wanna grind out a lot of these! I've lost AA to Q9 and A9 to A3 both for $3k. Its gonna happen. If you rage out, a good tip is to pad out your walls with soft cushions so that when you throw your mouse/keyboard/table/cat/phone they might survive! Bolt down your computer and chairs, make sure there is no glass in the room, and sound proofing might be needed if you like to shout a lot! xD


Spin and Go's are super fun, super crazy and the recreationals are really bad. Like REALLY in capital letters bad. But they will also suck out on you... a lot. Variance is huge in these games, not just in how the cards fall but how the distribution of multipliers work out, and how you run in those make a difference to the money you make in the short term.

Its so important to keep an eye on your ev bb/100 or chip ev per game. This is the best way to have an idea of how well you are playing, since its hard to tell by the games themselves. For sure do not, I repeat not evaluate shit by profit (being results orientated).

I really haven't made that much money at all. The rakeback is nice, but bad timing in that lol. However I would say that my game has improved ten - fold. Especially in the last few months. As a 9 man SNG player it has been so difficult getting out of this "range chart" push/fold mentality and actually think about lines, reads, board textures. I've made some decent money just robotically sticking to a formula, which is plus ev.

The joke about 9 man players is that we're nits and really bad at postflop poker. I think was true for me, and was quite an eye opener! I'm sure a lot of you Spin regs would know my results and say that I'm still bad haha. Well guess what? I've deliberately made my results bad timed perfectly so that when Spinlyzer shuts down, you guys can have bad adjustments vs me! #UltimateLongAssMindgames LOL

Playing Spins is like what I've heard about Heads Up Cash. You're unlikely to make a ton of money, but the amount of learning you get from it is its own value.

Gonna end this post with how psyched I am about Mr Robot season 2 coming out. In my opinion best TV Show of 2015. Check it out! GL at the tables fellow players!

Monday, 4 July 2016

The End of Spinlyzer

RIP Spinlyzer

Last week Spinlyzer put up this announcement on their front page.
This happened after a Pokerstars update, it seems that they had done something to stop Spinlyzer from being able to track 2x multiplier games.

For those who don't know what Spinlyzer was, it was a website that if you paid for you were able to get information on a certain players results in Spin and Go's.

What was differentiated this from Sharkscope, was that not only were the results shown, but other things too like Chip EV, and graphs which were big determining factors into whether a player was a winning one or not. For as we know, there are a lot of variance in Spins and working out whether a player was good or not was not as simple as just looking at their results graphs.

It seems confirmed that this is the case on their site that their tracking was finished.

Pokerstars' Snail's Pace Response

What I find amazing is Pokerstar's slow response to solving this problem. The website had been up since last year May and I'm sure they knew about it but they have only just done something about it. It kinda adds to the confirmation of my theory that with Amaya taking over, they had lost a lot of key staff members that did the software programming as such.

How can this exist? Well for some weird reason, even if you were hidden from search, every 2x multiplier game was able to be spectated, and therefore allowed the website to be able to data mine constantly. This problem wasn't just in Spins, but also Zoom cash tables were also able to be data mined and hands were sold on other websites before they fixed it.

It really is amazing that the whole point of introducing Spin and Go's (and Zoom) was to make things "fairer" for the average recreational player. In theory there would be no table selecting, no possible way to scout information, and prizepools would be random so that they could also have a chance of winning big in the short run.

But along came SpinWiz for auto registering games to avoid other regs, and Spinlyzer to scout your opponents with all types of information taken from its ability to data mine every game played. SpinWiz took ages to be banned (why wasn't this done instantly?), and Spinlyzer over a year and a half.
SpinWiz was able to see every reg online, and allow you to avoid them when registering to Spin and Go's. No table selecting countered!!

Drawing the Line

I think most poker players will agree that these things are not good for the game, as every edge is squeezed out of all the recreationals, its not very inviting for them and doesn't help poker's popularity in the long run.

I would say that Sharkscope is a fine line to be drawn. This is because players have to opt in to it. Opting in seems fine because they are knowingly allowing themselves to have certain data about themselves be shared. Sharkscope only tracks results as well, and not things which are not known without sharing a database.

One of the biggest problems in Spin and Go's is huge stables. There is no way to check for a big stable that shares its hands with each other to gain an advantage. This would be their own "private" Spinlyzer effectively, and there is nothing stopping them from doing this... but when there is money involved this is a difficult thing to control.

Maybe Stars should create a more official form to fill in to let them know that a stable is being created? Then they can keep an eye on them, and distinguish between the "official" ones and ones that didn't sign up etc? Who knows what can be done.

It really does make me think about other Sports tho, when a scout is hired to get information on opponents. It seems silly to not even have this analysis on your opponents if you are playing on a professional level. However, if this information is sold to other pro's at a price, then the ethics of it goes out the window.

That's why HUDs imo are ok. This is information that is gathered by oneself, and anyone can do it. It is only when the information is sold and shared to others then it becomes unethical.

Either way, it has been a shit show by Pokerstars and it aint been pretty. They created Zoom and Spin and Go's to make it "fairer" for recreationals, but this was negated by allowing their software to have every hand get tracked and then the data sold off!

Btw its now July, and we're still waiting on what Negreanu has said would be "good changes" promotion to counter act the VIP changes implemented last year? 6 months to go guys... what could it possibly be?

Summer Games Done Quick

Just to end this post on a lighter note, please tune in and possibly donate to Summer Games Done Quick. This is a week long marathon raising money for Doctors Without Borders. These guys play all your childhood video games, and complete them as fast as possible using some interesting strategies and glitches! This is known as "Speedrunning". Last year they managed to raise $1.3 million! Its a great cause and it is highlighting to good that video gaming can have, not just the negative that the news love to keep talking about!

Please check them out!