Open Letter to Gavin: An Inquiry Into “What Is Ideal Poker?”

Gavin: Have you talked to anybody who runs a poker site?

You would say that, wouldn’t you? 😉

Gavin: I implemented and deployed a just-for-fun multi person online poker system; your tech would have been nice, although we probably wouldn’t have used it. Much simpler to have a central server, especially since players need a way of finding each other and since leader-boards were a big feature.

Gavin I think you have given me the perfect backdrop to say something that might otherwise be difficult to explain. Also you say something here that, forgive me especially if I am wrong, Satoshi would never say. It’s just a small observation that may or may not have any significance or value. Maybe you did even do the original bitcoin code, but as the worlds greatest poker player I think I have found a tell here-you could not have been the person that came up with the insight that became bitcoin.

The special commodity or medium that we call EV has a long and interesting history.~Ideal Poker

Perhaps it is wrong of me to say, but it seems to me bitcoin was ultimately a spawned idea by a person who studied the history of technology and money systems and scientifically projected this information into a future perspective of it.

What you say here tells me it couldn’t have been you.

So I wish to present the argument that various interest and groups, notably including PSFTFBICIADOJ has sold to the players a “quasi-doctrine” which teaches, in effect, that “less is more” or that (in other words) “raked poker is better than not raked poker”.
~Ideal poker

There is the problem in this regard with your post. In short I have a thesis, which has a certain relevant component that it hinges on: Poker sites function as banks! You just asked me if I have gone to the government, and gave me the exact (Keynesian) argument that poker cannot be played “freely” which Nash points out as a being quasi-doctrine!

My “thesis” which I see as obviously true and well proven, is that poker is a SPECIAL game, that has evolved in relation to our banking system. Poker has inherited many of the disadvantages and inefficient solutions banking with central banks and 3rd parties suffers from.

Your suggestions here, and your perspective are telling, scary almost. Well I mean you are obviously very good at what you do…I’m not sure what the role is called…developer, designer (architect!?)…I don’t mean to speak down to it, I really don’t…but you have not understood the philosophy of bitcoin, you can’t have.

In light of this, I want us to understand “Ideal Poker”. I am going to solve the problem below for us, and see if we cannot get anything useful from the solution:

Gavin: I believe the biggest problem in real-money poker is players collaborating with each other outside the game. Three players cooperating at a table can pretty easily take down a fourth. The big poker sites try to detect odd betting patterns that indicate unfair collaboration and will ban players that cheat; you won’t disrupt them unless you have a solution to that problem.

We solve this by bringing into our view what I call an effective rake standard, which is an average profitability for the players. We have to make the assumption that there is a profitability for the most skilled players otherwise who would play raked poker but ignorant peoples? So my solution is as follows…make the colluded poker game equal to or more profitable than todays 3rd party secured games.

With this perspective we have thus solved bots and “cheating” software from the players perspective since one wouldn’t complain in the economically significant sense on a table with n players where hero is versus n-1 bots if the table was equally or more profitable than a table with no bots or collusion.

But how could such a standard of “ideal poker” be brought about? It SEEMS mythological. Won’t the players just game the profitability?

Here is my conjecture, and I expect it to hold true: In a game with a secured profitability standard (if it could be at all possible for it to exist) bots WILL necessarily arise, HOWEVER they will only possibly game the profitability to a break even/at cost level and no less!

This suggests then there is the possibility for some form of an equilibrium.

Here is a useful proposed solution to collusion, in that players are sent to random seats, and so any attacker must hold a large portion of the player field:

There is also in that proposal a heuristics meter of some sort. All in all it seems V.Buterin took one look at deemed it gameable. I am not so sure, however it must be pointed out, poker players are not anywhere near entirely interested in not being able to choose their own seats.

The actions of the DOJ was actually multi-dimensional and consequently there are quite different varieties of persons at the present time who follow, in one way or another, some of the thinking of the DOJ. And of course SOME of its thinking was scientifically accurate and thus not disputable. For example, FT was labeled a Ponzi scheme. The label “PSFTCIAFBICIA” is convenient, but to be safe we should have a defined meaning for this as a party that can be criticized and contrasted with other parties. So let us define “PSFTCIAFBICIA “to be descriptive of a “school of thought” that originated at the time of Black Friday on April 15 2011. Then, more specifically, a “PSFTCIAFBICIA ” would favor the existence of a “manipulative” state establishment of raked poker and poker skin which would continuously seek to achieve “raked” objectives with comparatively little regard for the long term reputation of the poker currency and the associated effects of that on the reputation of poker sites domestic to the state. And indeed a very famous saying of PSFTCIAFBICIA was “…in the long run we will all be dead…”.
~Ideal Poker

Now for all this I can say here lies the solution to the collusion problem you point to. Firstly I must say it cannot at all be TRUSTED 3rd parties that simply provide these solutions, in the traditional sense of how poker’s infrastructure functions today. In short the US government (DOJ FBI etc) set up the Pepsi of the poker industry (Poker Stars) to buy out the Coke of the industry (Full Tilt) at the very height of poker’s success. By buying out its only real competition Poker Stars was thus handed a monopoly and through regulation and payment processor restrictions has held that monopoly for some time now. On April 15 2011 the cost to play poker rose dramatically and has been rising ever since.

Recently Poker Stars, owned by Amaya, just reneged on its reward programs for the players, who believed that if they grinded poker for the entire year they would receive rewards promised as an incentive program to play mass volume. Amaya doesn’t owe the players a profitability standard, however, they are very clearly in a position where they can initiate monopolistic practices.

It was the observation of a new “line” that has become popular with those responsible for “raked” functions relating to national poker sites that gave us the idea for the study of “asymptotically rakeless” poker.
The idea seems paradoxical, but by speaking of “rake targeting” these responsible officials are effectively CONFESSING that, notwithstanding how they formerly were speaking about the difficulties and problems of their functions, that it is indeed after all possible to control rake by controlling the supply of chips (as if by limiting the amount of individual “prints” that could be made of a work of art being produced as “prints”).
~Ideal Poker

For this and other reasons I have learned, and it can be shown, that there is a HIDDEN cost of exchanging chips for monies on a 3rd party poker site. It can hold true that the games are not rigged in the traditional sense (ie the cards are fair!), yet there is an underlying cost to participate not visible to the unwares consumer, the cost of effective rake, ie how profitable is this game.

A site that rakes x% of the buyin’s over time, might actually profit far more depending on the circumstances of the games offered in relation to the average players ability to tend towards game theoretically optimal poker. There is in fact an optimal strategy and we should expect the general player population to tend towards it over time (this is in effect what poker professionals are paid to do).

So how do we solve collusion, when we know the only cryptographic/programmatic/networking solution to do so MUST (in Gavin’s opinion) involve 3rd parties?

I think we can do this with a small tweak to pokererum’s design.

Envision a lower layer random style seating saloon with a profitability standard that attracts bots. Depending on the parameters and incentives you might have a decentralized pool of bots that could support a game or a centralized pool that would probably not (who would trust it!?). This underlying network can then function to hold private games on a higher layer that would pay “rake” (or rakeback points depending on how we view it) to the underlying network of “bots”.

Here what we are really worried about is that the network of bots is random seating only, but also probably extremely difficult poker (all players are really good in the GTO sense) because it is not at all policed.

And so what we have provided, if it is at all possible to set this infrastructure up, is the ability for any group or entity to create their own private games that function on a decentralized p2p network. The “bots” layer allows for the provision of cards and chips and gameflow, while giving any persons or groups no barrier to entry for creating their own table or site.

In the near future there may be a smaller number of major sites used in the world and these may stand in competitive relations among themselves. There is now the “euro” sites and the old history of the UB scandal is past history now. And there COULD be introduced, for example, a similar international site for the Islamic world or for South Asia, or for South America, or here or there.
~Ideal Poker

And so we now have a solution which suggest that “3rd parties” now play a slightly different role in the provision of a “good” poker game”. The cost to provide the games is dramatically reduced not only because of server costs etc. but also in regard to payment processor restrictions and regulation challenges. New ideas can now function on a free market and innovation can arise that can provide solutions far more valuable than the single existing monopoly is providing today.

So here is the possibility of “asymptotically ideal (rakeless) poker”. Starting with the idea of value stabilization in relation to a domestic ‘deposits raked’ index associated with the territory of one state, beyond that there is the natural and logical concept of internationally based rake comparisons. The sites being compared, like PSFTCIAFBIDOJ, Merge, Party Poker, etc. can be viewed with critical eyes by their players and by those who may have the option of whether or not or how to use one of them. This can lead to pressure for good quality and consequently for a lessened rate of rake.
~Ideal Poker

The equilibrium between the private game solutions and the underlying network suggests then that poker can be provided at cost and everyone has incentive to keep the network as valuable as possible.

Why should this all be important to us? Although I am not sure if it is at all possible to design this technology it should be recognized that this is the implementation of a solution proposed by John Nash for our financial system, using his “profitability standard” called an industrial consumption price index.

His solution is to rework our perspective and our understanding of how our systems of money should be administered, so that the markets might brute force what will ultimately be “ideal money”, which is money that doesn’t degrade arbitrarily in value, and happens to be money comparable to a  theoretical ICPI. Government fiats still exist for the time being in his solution, but there is then incentive for them to react to the markets opinion on the quality of the money being administered.

Here the key viewpoint is methodological, as we see it. HOW should the poker society and the poker site authorities seek to improve economic poker welfare generally and what should be done at times of abnormal economic difficulties or “depression” (variance)?
~Ideal Poker

This is what it means to say “HOW” or that our view is methodological. And this is in direct contrast to your understanding of the problems stated and the solutions proposed. Ideal Poker, and what I suggest as the next evolution of poker, is ultimately, what will turn poker into what it is mean to do. The markets when turned “free” will naturally solve the question of “What is the optimal poker strategy”, which is a previously unsolvable problem because no one has been able to brute force solve the higher evolutions of the game.

I guess then I also predict we are going to learn, through what is essentially natural evolution, how to solve complex and otherwise unsolvable problems through cooperative “game-play”. Our evolution and understanding of games is going to evolve.

I think now there is the possibility of understanding “Ideal Money” and why I think it is the most significant works of our time. But also I wonder if I have earned enough curiosity for a serious study into the paper me and Nash created entitled “Ideal Poker”:

Political Evolution
There perhaps will always be “rake”, like also “death and taxes”. But it is sometimes remarkable how poker strategies can evolve. And in relation to that I think that it is possible that “PSFTCIAFBIDOJ ” are like a political faction that will become less influential as a result of poker revolution. The “PSFTCIAFBIDOJ” view of things did not come into existence until after the time when what we can call “Black Friday” had become established in the US. And by this label we wish to differentiate between any theoretical or ideal concept of justice and the actual form of governing regime structure that came to exercise state power on the poker community. (All over the world varieties of sites make claims to have systems very properly or even ideally devoted to the interests of the professional or recreational players of those sites and always an externally located critic can argue that the site is actually a sort of despotism.)
PSFTCIAFBIDOJ implicitly always have the argument that some good managers can do things of beneficial value, operating with the skins, and that it is not needed or appropriate for the players or the “customers” of the chips supplied by the site to actually understand, while the managers are managing, what exactly they are doing and how it will affect the “ROI” circumstances of these players.
I see this as analogous to how the PSFTCIAFBIDOJ were claiming to provide something much better than Ponzi schemes that they could not deny existed in all other sites. But in the end the “dictatorship of the proletariat” seemed to become rather exposed as simply the dictatorship of the regime. So there may be an analogy to this as regards those called “PSFTCIAFBIDOJ” in that while they have claimed to be operating for high and noble objectives of general poker welfare what is clearly true is that they have made it easier for their sites to “print money”.
So I see the entire privately raked community as in a weak sense comparable to the “PSFTCIAFBIDOJ ” because of the support of both parties for a certain “lack of transparency” relating to the functions of poker sites as seen by the players. And for both of them it can be said that they tend to think in terms of sites operating in a benevolent fashion that is, however, beyond the comprehension of the player of the raked sites. And this parallel makes it seem not implausible that a process of poker revolution might lead to the expectation on the part of players in the “great game types” that they should be better situated to be able to understand whatever will be the rake policies which, indeed, are typically of great importance to players who may have alternative options for where to place their “deposits”.

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