Friday, August 24, 2007

Internet Euchre Hall of Fame (Part IV)

Letters...I get letters.

We have an apparently humble bunch in Cases. My Google Analytics tell me people are reading these posts, and people are sending me (private) messages about them, but nobody wants to put in his or her two cents publically--except for dlf to let me know that, yes, he is a real person. One funny thing about the responses I've got is that while there has been no shortage of reasons why the people on the list shouldn't be there, nobody wants to say who should be on the list instead.

I want to follow up with a couple of comments or considerations about the nature of (ladder) euchre and how it affects my reading the stats.

First off, I don't believe that Yahoo! games are programmed or engineered to be more lop sided or give more loners than anywhere else. I don't believe tables 1 or 2 are any different from any other tables. I don't believe the red seats or the blue seats are good or bad nor that odd or even tables follow certain patterns. I don't believe that players can improve their stats by manipulating trends on the tables any more than I believe that people can be successful in Las Vegas by selecting the right slot machine. My attitude is, if someone could crack the code, he or she would have done it already and would be winning at more than a 55% clip.

I'm not a programmer. I wrote some very small programs in Basic in like 8th grade. I would think it is always easier to program true randomness than some pattern. From a sociological or anthropological perspective, superstitions (which these are, I think) are usually about people feeling helpless or powerless and doing something to make themselves feel better by making them feel like they are doing SOMETHING.

I have seen players who will ditch tables because they lose two games in a row. (I've even partnered a few.) To me, it's always just as logical to think that the law of averages, such as it is, meant that it was just as likely to turn on that table. (And besides, if you believe tables are streaky, you just move to another table that is at the beginning of a losing streak.) My one superstition is that if I'm number 2 and challenging number 1, I would prefer to do it after the people I'm challenging have just won a game. This is, however, I will repeat a SUPERSTITION. It is the same logic in slots that the slots will be "loose" or "tight."

Euchre is a team game. Some people are selective about who they partner and others will play a lot of tournaments on auto-locater or have friends or family (or even kids) who they like to play with. I have mixed feelings about this argument. On the one hand, people who are only successful with one partner raise the suspicion level (having one main partner is not defacto evidence of cheating, but the ability to succeed with multiple partners is a factor in my thinking). My counter thinking is that picking the right partner (and knowing how to pick a partner) is part of what makes a good player. This issue is further complicated in ladder play where sometimes the person of a higher rank can stick with a good partner all night and someone who is trying to play up may have to play with whoever is there. I certainly know that in the busy years when I was trying to move up in rank, I got a lot of up games by having a reputation as a good player and being willing to partner people who had more patience to wait in line for up games than I did. Sometimes that meant I wasn't always sitting across from the person who gave me the best chance to win...but I guess volume of up games for ladder (when pursuing rank) is an important consideration. Two games with a 52% chance of winning might be a better bet than one with a 56% chance of winning. These days if Breebrat2005 is around, I will partner her if that's an option. But I've played 1 v 2 matches while partnering tdeem1, klykey2, debs301, peachesin, thenamelessbard8, quiet_quiver, colby2570, and others.

One letter brought up the pertinent question of how many games a player has to play for us to have a decent sense of whether he or she is good. If, as I've been saying, 53% is damn good in straight euchre play and 54-55% is positively elite, is, say, 100 games enough? Can one rain storm that knocks you out or one partner who gets set going alone at 7-8 skew your statistics if the sample is small enough? This is a legitimate question and one reason why players who have purged and rejoined (either because they joined after the lifetime gold option was no longer available or because they had a bad start and wanted to reset) are suspect. Cases now allows players with some accounts to "reset" their stats without withdrawing. There are some players who are better players now than when they started. (I was under 50% my first 100 games.)

If one uses a gold account to break down one's statistics by opponent, I've never quite figured out why the numbers don't add up the same as one's flat win-loss record. There are people I know I've played more than what the "by opponent" record indicates. (It says, for example, that I've only played poohize six times and never won, and I have notebooks from my first run up ladder with every game, my partner and score.) But, for what it's worth, I thought I would take a different approach than raw, bulk, numbers. Since I fancy myself an elite player, I thought I would see which players have a winning record against me over more than 10 games. Yes, 10 is a ridiculously small sample size for a game like euchre, but it's another piece in a puzzle. Here are players who are 50% or better against me over 10 or more games recorded by my Gold profile (I have not included players who are 50% with one profile but under 50% with another):

bergholzoh (8-5)
bluegrassman (8-4)
cashmeer (10-5)
codemanjoe (11-9)
colby2570 (9-5)
curtsinthezone (5-5)
hudie62 (8-4)
jaw1582 (7-6)
kitty710 (6-5)
marmin3 (5-5)
mcmezcal (6-4)
mn_of_mstry (8-7)
quiet_quiver (15-13)
shhaggman (7-5)
whapemback_22 (7-7)

That's an odd list. I'm assuming colby2570 and mn_of_mstry were partners for most of those games, and I remember bluegrassman was ranked #1 when I came back to ladder room after several years absence and I had to wait awhile before people got to know me as a good player, so I was playing with a lot of different people, blah, blah, blah, excuses, excuses. I consider bergholzoh, quiet_quiver, and shaggman to be solid players against whom I would expect to have a lot of close games and I've always thought hudie62 was underrated. Why Cashmeer apparently has my number I know not, but I will say she was about the nicest person on the ladder that one could get trounced by (and she even let me hold her wand once).

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