Sunday, April 24, 2011

Beat the Rake

The experiment that was "Beat the Rake" took place last weekend and I'm not sure that there was really any surprises. I think we all know that in a 1/2 NL game raked at 10% that we pay a LOT in rake in terms of percentage but it's nice to see the numbers to back it up. Here is the number summary first:

Time span    Rake Tips Total
7:30- 8:30 91 18 109
8:30- 9:30 97 36 133
9:30-10:30 107 50 157
10:30-11:00 45 10 55
3.5 hours 340 114 454
Avg/hour 97 33 130

My back of the envelope calculation of 100/hour in rake was right in line with the actual numbers. We started six handed and I'm pretty sure we went the whole first hour that way so the $91 for that first hour would be like us playing a home 1/2 game then each of us throwing $15 away of the top of our stacks. Or $18 if you want to count tips too. Later on we ended up 8 handed which brings the hourly rake down to a relatively cheaper ~$12 hour. Still, after a standardish five hour session that would mean taking *three stacks of $1 chips* and flushing them down the toilet and that doesn't include tips.

The tips situation is rather noteworthy. The $2 tip per $100 pot is possibly suspect. At the very least I think that a cap would have been reasonable. I would say that a $5 tip is likely sufficient for all but the most monstrous pots in a 1/2 game. $2 per hundred might have even been on the high side but it only kicked in after a pot reaches $100 which mitigates it somewhat. We also did not pay any server tokes out of our stack which could end up being a couple bucks per person over a session. After I noticed that we had to change out racks of greens (tip chips) partway through the night I felt that the tip rate is going to need to be examined. The silver lining to a likely unreasonable no-cap policy on the tips is that we are able to gauge the pot sizes through the night. We got a predictable spike in pot sizes (as indicated by tip total) in the 9:30 to 10:30 hour due to stuck players trying to get even. Would that really add up to $50/hour for a dealer? I think that's on the high side but also not totally unreasonable given the fact that players are dragging multiple red stacks in after some of those hands.

There are a couple accounting issues to address here as well. Firstly, I had announced a total of 452 in rake/tips after cash out but careful observers will note that the numbers in the chart add up to 454. What probably happened was that somewhere in the 3200 chips in play last night a couple chips got swept into the rake box that should not have been. I also was ten minute late swapping out the chip drop box for the 9:30-10:30 period because I got sidetracked with Jeh working the end of tourney selection software (btw, I acknowledge that the process for determining the end was hopelessly over-engineered but I prefer a process that would stand up to rigorous auditing). So I took a straight 1/7 cut of both rake and tips and applied it forward to the 10:30-11:30 chip drop. Not as clean as I'd like it to be but the numbers are still plenty representative.

As for the structure of the tourney, I think Marsh's suggestion helped to keep action going more than it otherwise would have since there is less incentive to just try to coast with a stack that's above water. That's mitigated slightly by the fact that anyone stuck has even less incentive to try to get even. We ended up not really having a tough decision to make since on one was in the treading water category and stacks ended up getting fairly polarized by the time we called it off.

Before the current incarnation the previous structures that I was toying around with were either:
  • Play with the constant blinds but with increasing rake, either a higher percentage and/or higher or unrestricted cap on rake. Players are eliminated when they bust out or after they decide not to rebuy.

  • Play with constant blinds but after a given period of time eliminate either the shortest stack or anyone underwater. This brings up the same issue about having a random end time to minimize the effect of desperation (though correct) kamikaze play as a deadline looms.

I'm sure there are many other options of how to play a pseudo-cash game tournament and I think that the structure from this past weekend is likely not the strongest.

In the end, it's pretty clear that in order to beat the rake you are going to need a never-ending supply of fresh money coming in. Basically, if you get one player coming in every hour, donking off a stack or two, then leaving to be replaced by a fresh fish then the rest of the table (in aggregate) can hope to basically break even. Stronger players will be up some but it's going to be hard to crush the game without loose money at the table due to the constant erosion of your stack by the rake.

Anyway, there's the brain dump from the tourney. Feel free to comment away and we'll improve the format for next time.


royalbacon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
royalbacon said...

I thought the tourney itself was actually kinda interesting, and felt quite a bit like a typical raked cash game.

It was my play in the true cash game that happened after the tourney that was suspect and I’d like to change in the future. (Ha!)

(reposted as it was originally, but this time I clicked the "email follow-up comments… Stupid

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