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The Ratholing Controversy

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The Ratholing Controversy - Thu Feb 20, 2014, 05:47 AM
(#1)
royalraise85's Avatar
Since: Jul 2011
Posts: 26,020
(Community Coordinator)
Hi all,

Some of you may have seen the recent petition on 2 Plus 2 where players are asking PokerStars to implement more measures to prevent 'Ratholing' as we know it.

It's an interesting topic and I'm sure the development team are working on it and will implement changes when they decide the time is right.

Already PokerStars have introduced measures to dampen this 'forbidden' poker practice. For example, there's the rule that if you rejoin a table you must sit back down with the same amount of money as you left with within a certain time period.

Anyway, i'm interested to hear other members thoughts on this. What do you think of the practice both in live poker and in online games? What can be done to prevent it?

Raiser


Moderator

Bracelet Winner



Last edited by royalraise85; Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 10:29 AM..
 
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Thu Feb 20, 2014, 06:20 AM
(#2)
bhoylegend's Avatar
Since: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,261
I've been following the long drawn out discussion over this on 2+2 as well. Including the recent petition.

I gave Pokerstars kudos for their work on the Full Tilt issue yesterday but today I have to say that I think they have dropped the ball on this somewhere along the line. If they are not going to do anything more than they currently have ie. having to join the same table with the same stack within a certain time, then they shouldn't have said they were going to on multiple occasions over the last year or so.

If they were going to do it, they shouldn't have set time frames and consistently missed those timeframes.

For me, I find it pretty annoying when a shortstacker takes part of my stack, or someone else's at the table to double up, and they instantly leave the table and sit a new table with another short stack. They have removed money from the game. They maintain an advantage over big stacks. Sometime ago someone on 2+2 did excellent work on explaining why that is.

For some, it's because they can't play good poker, they simplify the game to pre-flop all-ins or 1-2 streets post flop at most.

FWIW, I don't even think the proposal that Stars made and failed to implement, is even that bad. Players would still be able to rathole something like 24 times a day.
 
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Thu Feb 20, 2014, 07:24 AM
(#3)
PokerIggy's Avatar
Since: Nov 2010
Posts: 214
So if it is 'forbidden'. Why is Ratholing still possible (allowed?) at the Zoom tables or will this also change in the future for Zoom tables?
 
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Thu Feb 20, 2014, 07:25 AM
(#4)
bhoylegend's Avatar
Since: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,261
Just to add a little colour, this is what I believe to be stars last position on the issue, as posted by PS Steve on 19/05/13:

Ratholing B
The reasons we have committed to addressing ratholing are already posted in great detail in public. Our focus is on determining what exactly to do, then executing.

We want to find a preventative solution rather than a punative solution. Punishing players creates a negative experience for customers who may not know the rules. It also takes substantial resources. Cases of rules violations are rarely so clear as to be handled quickly. Players violating rules may not feel that they are doing so even if data shows that they are. Players may also feel that other specific players are violating rules based on a small number of incidents when the data shows no such long-term trend, resulting in player frustration that rules are seemingly not being enforced.

We are OK with some limited amount of ratholing type behavior and specifically want to protect it. Sometimes players find themselves in uncomfortable positions where a tough aggressive player has position with deep effective stacks. This happens both for 100bb and 40bb players. Additionally, players with small account balances may win a pot and want to split their funds up across multiple tables.

We also want to protect the ability of players to play sessions across many tables, buying in for the minimum on each. As long as they are not ratholing, this is not a problem.

This leaves us with the challenge of defining very precisely the behavior we want to end in such a way that the behavior we want to allow is not included. We need to create both a verbal definition that is easily understood by poker players and a corresponding technical definition that can be coded into our software.

We would want to do so in a sufficiently simple way, as with all of our improvements. Simplicity benefits not only development time and communication, but also simpler solutions tend to be more robust in the long run. Complexity opens up additional possibility that unanticipated behavior patterns might help players get around the spirit of the intended change.

We have not succeeded in finding such a definition that both met our normal standards of simplicity and would properly isolate the problematic behavior. At some point earlier this year, we resigned ourselves to considering more complex solutions.

Thanks to a post by 2+2er 'mme', we worked out a very precise definition. We provided an 18-page document to all player representatives that outlined the solution. This business requirements document (BRD) is what we provide to the development team when we request a new feature. We had been through many rounds of review and edit on the BRD already.

The basic premise of the solution is that we track players' stack sizes when they leave tables and then enforce appropriate minimum buy-ins when they re-join other tables. Joining a table creates a 'stack identity' for that table type. For example, if I were to sit at a 40-100bb table with 40bb, then leave the table with 67bb, I would now have 40-100bb stack #1 set at 67bb.

Each player would have a maximum number of stacks at each table type, with table type defined by buy-in range. The maximum number of stacks would be equal to a player's table cap (for regular tables) and table cap divided by 3 (Zoom). This way a player could start a full maximum tables session with minimum buy-ins, but if they left any table with more than minimum buy-in, they would then need to re-use the same stack identity when buying into another table of the same type.

For example, if I buy in to 24 40-100bb tables with 40bb each, double up on one to 80bb and leave, I would then have to buy in for at least 80bb if I then tried to join another 40-100bb table. Let's say I do this. Then if I lose 20bb and leave with 60bb, the next table I would join I could buy in for 60bb. This all assumes that I have stayed on the other 23 tables the whole time; if I had left those tables, I would be given the option to buy in for the smallest number of bb available on one of my stack identities.

Zoom would be considered a separate table type as it is 50-100bb, but PLO and NLHE 40-100bb tables would use the same stack identities.

We have accounted for angleshooting as best as we can predict. For example, if you buy into a table with significantly lower stakes than the one at which you created your stack identity, you are still bound by the minimum number of big blinds at buy-in but you cannot reduce, only increase, the size of the stack identity when leaving the tables. This prevents players from doubling up at high stakes and then reducing their minimum buy-in back to 40bb by losing money at much lower stakes.

The identities expire after a set period of time that is configurable. Configuring this period of time is challenging. The longer it is the more effective we are at preventing undesired behavior, but the more likely we are to be prohibiting behavior that we want to allow.

Our current thought is that the identities would need to set to expire after 18 to 20 hours. In this way a player could buy in at 24 tables for 40bb, play a full session and build big stacks on them, and then return the next day to do the same. 18 to 20 hours seems more reasonable than 24 as players can't be expected to start their session at the same exact time each day.

The downside of this configuration is that it does allow more ratholing than we might like from those who choose to take full advantage within the system. A player with a 24 table cap who likes to play only 6 tables at a time and is willing to play both Zoom and regular tables could get quite a few ratholes in per day before hitting their identity cap for both table types.

There are different opinions as to whether a 6 tabler ratholing 3 times is doing anything functionally different than a 24-tabler who joins all tables simultaneously and then leaves each table after doubling up. The net impact on the rest of the playing pool is the same, but the timing of each action seems more like ratholing. In any case, this behavior would be allowed under the system.

There is also a concern with players who have increased table caps being able to execute ratholes quite effectively. We can't a smaller number of stack identities than the player's number of max tables. If a player had 16 identities and a table cap of 24, what would their buy-in options be when sitting down at the 17th table?

Players have suggested that proactively lowering table caps for players who are not making use of their maximum number of tables concurrently would be one option. Some would suggest we should do this not just for players with caps above 24, but also for those with caps of 24 who are only playing 12. I am skeptical that this could be implemented without creating more problems than it solves. Players change behavior from time to time; a player who has been 8 tabling for years without causing any trouble may not be pleased to find that they are not able to try to jump up to 16 tables if the decide they'd like to. We have a lot of customers; reviewing such cases manually is not a desirable solution.

We don't think that multi-accounting to get around the restrictions is likely to be a big problem as VIP rewards are an important income source for mass multitabling ratholers.

It's hard to describe an 18 page solution in a forum post, but the above should give you a good idea of how it works and its identified weak spots.

We are currently doing significant technical investigation to identify what % of ratholing occurrences this would prevent if implemented today, based on a loose definition of ratholing. As long as the % is meaningful and no better solution presents itself, we will move forward.

We had hoped to implement this solution in the first half of the year as I have stated multiple times and we have been planning to do so, but it is clear at this point that we are not going to hit the deadline. We are doing everything we can to get the solution ready to go over the summer. It's extremely disappointing to me that we are missing our goal here, as I know it is disappointing to many of you.

http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...8&postcount=22

Last edited by bhoylegend; Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 07:28 AM..
 
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Thu Feb 20, 2014, 07:46 AM
(#5)
royalraise85's Avatar
Since: Jul 2011
Posts: 26,020
(Community Coordinator)
Quote:
Originally Posted by PokerIggy View Post
So if it is 'forbidden'. Why is Ratholing still possible (allowed?) at the Zoom tables or will this also change in the future for Zoom tables?
I use the word 'forbidden' in the sense that it's frowned apon by the general poker community and most likely by all online poker operators.

Poker Players though are savvy beasts and some will bend the rules as far as the can without breaking to gain an 'edge'.

I don't have facts and I'm speaking of my own opinion but I'd be very surprised if PokerStars haven't already taken action against players found to be exploiting the system.

Raiser


Moderator

Bracelet Winner


 
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Thu Feb 20, 2014, 10:24 AM
(#6)
DrDonkin's Avatar
Since: Nov 2012
Posts: 874
Im not much of a cash player but i think with regular cash tables make the minimum buy in 100bb and if you leave and sit at another table you must sit down with what you left the previous table, i dont know if this would be possible for pokerstars to put in place. And then leave zoom open for the players that like to buy in small and use the hit and run style, i think this would make most players happy and could solve the problem of ratholing.
 
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The Ratholing Controversy - Thu Feb 20, 2014, 08:26 PM
(#7)
gtwi's Avatar
Since: Mar 2013
Posts: 91
BronzeStar
Although I am not to familuar with this issue myself, as I have not really experianced it personally. However, I can understand the complaints and concerns. There will always be people whom will take advantage of any and every situation possible. This leads me to wonder what PokerStars can really do about it. It would be nice if PS is able to do something maybe like a player must sit for X number of hands before leaving a game unless that player busts.
Annoying and fustrating it is just like those in Play money games and even a little bit in the cash games, who Jam Allin each and every hand.
PokerStars have some work ahead of them, and it most likey will be remedied in due time.
 
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Fri Feb 21, 2014, 06:40 AM
(#8)
TweedleBeetl's Avatar
Since: Aug 2013
Posts: 1,146
Recreational players are fond of ratholing for several reasons. Nothing should be done to make them uncomfortable.

If there is any problem with ratholing it is when multi-tablers do it. If any special measures are to be taken they should only apply to multi-tablers.

In any case shortstacking is much less effective than it used to be when buy-in limits where 20BB, so I don't see it as a problem.
 
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Fri Feb 21, 2014, 07:55 AM
(#9)
bhoylegend's Avatar
Since: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,261
Quote:
Originally Posted by TweedleBeetl View Post
Recreational players are fond of ratholing for several reasons. Nothing should be done to make them uncomfortable.

If there is any problem with ratholing it is when multi-tablers do it. If any special measures are to be taken they should only apply to multi-tablers.

In any case shortstacking is much less effective than it used to be when buy-in limits where 20BB, so I don't see it as a problem.
The post I quoted above, or copied and pasted to be more exact, Stars have the intention of allowing recraetional ratholers to continue doing so.

What they want to stop is the planned and systematic abuse of the ability to rathole.

Where people are following a plan, banking money at one table, removing it from the game, and moving on to the next table and doing the same. Many multiple times a day.
 
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Fri Feb 21, 2014, 09:58 AM
(#10)
Grade b's Avatar
Since: Jun 2010
Posts: 3,604
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDonkin View Post
Im not much of a cash player but i think with regular cash tables make the minimum buy in 100bb and if you leave and sit at another table you must sit down with what you left the previous table, i dont know if this would be possible for pokerstars to put in place. And then leave zoom open for the players that like to buy in small and use the hit and run style, i think this would make most players happy and could solve the problem of ratholing.

How long a time delay would this be?

Personally I woud like to see either both Zoom and regular Tables have the same rules.

Grade b


I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught. ~Winston Churchill

13 Time Bracelet Winner


 
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Fri Feb 21, 2014, 02:48 PM
(#11)
DrDonkin's Avatar
Since: Nov 2012
Posts: 874
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grade b View Post
How long a time delay would this be?

Personally I woud like to see either both Zoom and regular Tables have the same rules.

Grade b
I dont knowmaybe 15-30 mins. As for both having same rules i dont think it matters too much in zoom, as your flying from table to table and seeing many different players you dont really notice whos using the hit n run style or at least i dont.
 
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Sat Feb 22, 2014, 10:09 AM
(#12)
Profess Awe's Avatar
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 1,579
Quote:
Originally Posted by royalraise85 View Post
Hi all,

Some of you may have seen the recent petition on 2 Plus 2 where players are asking PokerStars to implement more measures to prevent 'Ratholing' as we know it.

It's an interesting topic and I'm sure the development team are working on it and will implement changes when they decide the time is right.

Already PokerStars have introduced measures to dampen this 'forbidden' poker practice. For example, there's the rule that if you rejoin a table you must sit back down with the same amount of money as you left with within a certain time period.

Anyway, i'm interested to hear other members thoughts on this. What do you think of the practice both in live poker and in online games? What can be done to prevent it?

Raiser
1. Thanks for raising awareness about the petition!
2. The issue is as much Stars have been promising something for nearly a year. Stars is getting a reputation for broken promises and strange definitions of soon (Where's that new MTT schedule that was due by the end of 2013?).
3. I am sure the idea of rejoining the same table with the same stack is industry standard and therefore not something to applaud Stars for. In fact it is less impactful on Stars because there are so many tables to hop to and zoom where you can hit, run, repeat.

You probably can guess my view, it is here: http://www.pokerschoolonline.com/blo...ay-these-games

Pushing ratholers to Zoom is not a great solution, because you cannot see stacks before you sit down. At least with regular tables I can see the number of shortstackers, search and find some of them 20tabling, then go play on another site.
 
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Sat Feb 22, 2014, 10:49 AM
(#13)
Sandtrap777's Avatar
Since: Jun 2010
Posts: 3,310
LOL.... This topic makes me laugh

What is ratholing? Is it when a player sits with 40BB? Is it when a player sits with 40BB, then walks away after doubling up? What about the player who sits with 100BB and doubles up and leaves? Is it when a player sits at a table with min stack? What about the player who sits with 100BB and everybody at the table is over 250BB? What about the player who sat with 100BB, than lost 60BB and goes back up to 100BB than leaves to another table?

Could it be that the complainers are just jealous? Could it be that the complainers just can't win and it's just a way to ventilate?

What about the player who's got a $20K bankroll and joins a $2 Mtt and goes all in with garbage because he can?

I personally sit at a table with 100BB and I now leave with 200BB (Zoom only). I don't pick my tables and I face short stacks, regulars, big stacks, basically ANYBODY and I've been doing pretty good. I really don't care about ratholers, just remember that variance will catch up to them.

What I would like to see PokerStars do, is eliminate the 40BB and make it 100BB for all. If someone wants to play short stack, well drop down a stake and play full stack.

I say, learn to play, stop wasting your time complaining and you'll beat those type of players or maybe not...lol
 
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Sat Feb 22, 2014, 11:38 AM
(#14)
bhoylegend's Avatar
Since: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,261
I have to say, although I am for the solution the Stars proposed, if they do not implement it I am not all that bothered. To listen to some of the people on 2+2 who are foaming at the mouth you would think that this is absolutely killing poker.

I disagree with part of Sandtraps post, some of the most vocal opponents of ratholing are winning players, so I dont see what they would have to be jealous about? That bit doesnt really make too much sense to me.

I also agree with Sandtrap, what it would be nice to see is if stars created 100bb only tables, people who want to incessantly short stack can play cap games.

As for me, I play short stacks, I play mid stacks, I play deep stacks, I like playing against the variety out there. Playing the shorties allows me to gambool a little with AIPF where it would be less enticing against a big stack. Mid stacks, for the most part, arent too different to big stacks, just a bit more thinking to do on the flop. Deep stacks, can be very challenging but also very rewarding. Nothing quite like winning a 600bb pot. Course, I want to die when I lose the pot, but that passes very quickly.
 
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Sat Feb 22, 2014, 11:53 AM
(#15)
bhoylegend's Avatar
Since: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,261
http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/28...h-3rd-1419208/

PokerStars Buy In Obligations to be Deployed on March 3rd

On March 3rd, we will be deploying our new Buy-In Obligations feature to Full Ring $1/$2 NLHE. Assuming we see no issues, we will quickly expand this to cover our entire Big Bet Ring Games offering.

A similar rollout for Zoom will follow.

Players impacted will be those who frequently:
1. Buy in for less than the maximum allowed buy-in
2. Play some hands
3. Leave the table with a larger stack than they originally brought to the table
4. Sit down at a similar table with a smaller stack size than they had when they left their prior table
Players currently must attempt to repeat this behavior at similar table types more than eight times in a 20-hour period in order to be restricted by this feature. Such players will be required to buy in for a higher minimum when sitting at certain tables; they will not be impacted in any other way.

Buy-In Obligations are a mechanism that limits the number of times you can leave tables after winning money only to re-join other tables with a smaller stack size. Currently, players are limited to re-joining eight times during a rolling 20-hour period.

When you pass the limit, your minimum buy-in will be replaced by the stack size you had previously left a table with. This is the reason this feature is titled “Buy-In Obligations” as leaving a table with winnings creates an Obligation to re-join future table with that same stack size.

Buy-In Obligations apply to all tables that have the same buy-in range, as measured by the range of big blinds players are initially allowed to bring to the table, such as a 40-100bb range. Therefore, Obligations created at a $0.05/$0.10 (40-100bb) NLHE table will also apply to a $5/$10 (40-100bb) PLO table. However, Obligations created at $0.05/$0.10 (40-100bb) NLHE tables will not apply to $0.05/$0.10 (100-250bb) NLHE tables. Instead, 100-250bb tables will have their own Buy-In Obligations.

It’s also important to note that this in no way restricts players from buying in for the minimum buy-in on as many tables as they wish when they have no active Obligations. The Obligations will also never require you to buy in for more than the default maximum buy-in for the table you are joining.

While most players will never be directly affected by Buy-In Obligations, the introduction of this feature aims to decrease table breaking and seating “meta games”, as well as to discourage players from moving too many times. This will allow players to focus on playing poker, rather than on continuously finding new tables to play.
 
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Sat Feb 22, 2014, 01:45 PM
(#16)
Grade b's Avatar
Since: Jun 2010
Posts: 3,604
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDonkin View Post
I dont knowmaybe 15-30 mins. As for both having same rules i dont think it matters too much in zoom, as your flying from table to table and seeing many different players you dont really notice whos using the hit n run style or at least i dont.
I like the 8 times 20 hours rule, makes me feel ok about leaving with a big stack when I (finally) manage to win some. Although It seems like I have some time before it makes it down to 5 or 10 NL I guess.

Am I reading it right if you buy in for the max you are unaffected by this rule?

Grade b


I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught. ~Winston Churchill

13 Time Bracelet Winner



Last edited by Grade b; Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 01:48 PM..
 
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Sat Feb 22, 2014, 03:43 PM
(#17)
Profess Awe's Avatar
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 1,579
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grade b View Post

Am I reading it right if you buy in for the max you are unaffected by this rule?

Grade b
Yep. "The Obligations will also never require you to buy in for more than the default maximum buy-in for the table you are joining."
 
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Emerald675 - Sat Feb 22, 2014, 07:42 PM
(#18)
Emerald675's Avatar
Since: Jul 2013
Posts: 57
How often are training sessions
 
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Wed Feb 26, 2014, 08:07 AM
(#19)
mr mendes 20's Avatar
Since: Dec 2011
Posts: 364
This is an intersting topic,
And I am failing to see how this 'ratholing' exactly is a problem. So you:

1- Join a cash table with the max amount, double up, leave, rejoin the table with the max buy in again;
2- Join a cash table with the min amount allowed, double up, leave, rejoin again;
3- What is exactly not found good here? That the player in question gets to win some money without risking much of his own? That a player won't give the others a chance to win back the chips they lost? How is that very different from for example the process of CAP games? I am puzzled.


Time Vault Champion 2013
 
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Wed Feb 26, 2014, 10:50 AM
(#20)
TweedleBeetl's Avatar
Since: Aug 2013
Posts: 1,146
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr mendes 20 View Post
This is an intersting topic,
And I am failing to see how this 'ratholing' exactly is a problem. So you:

1- Join a cash table with the max amount, double up, leave, rejoin the table with the max buy in again;
2- Join a cash table with the min amount allowed, double up, leave, rejoin again;
3- What is exactly not found good here? That the player in question gets to win some money without risking much of his own? That a player won't give the others a chance to win back the chips they lost? How is that very different from for example the process of CAP games? I am puzzled.
whiners often mention that ratholers are removing money from the playing pool, but that is exaclty what winning players are doing in general. They just do it in big chunks at the end of their sessions instead of buy-in by buy-in
 

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