Definition of Random

zachvac

zachvac

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I don't think very many people understand the meaning of the term "random". I was reading through a recent thread on RNGs and people were talking about how full tilt's was random enough so that good players win and bad players lose, but that it should be more random. Their proof was they saw too many patterns.

First off, patterns are a human invention. A full house means nothing to a RNG, so the fact that the random numbers happened to correspond to a full house or quads or even a royal flush has nothing to do with the RNG, it has to do with how we've defined poker hands.

Definition of random (from intro HS stat teacher): an event that although is unpredictable in the short run, is predictable in the long run. The teacher who gave this definition then did an exercise, we made two 10x10 tables to fill with numbers. We first did our best to create the most "random" table we could. After this we used the RNG in our calculator to fill the other side with numbers. He proceeded to guess correctly which side was the calculator and which was ours 100% of the time. How'd he do it? He looked for patterns, and those were the random ones. We seem to think that random means no patterns, but in reality if there are no patterns, that is when you should be suspicious of an RNG.

If you play 20k hands without losing to an over set, that's when you should be suspicious. If you play 20k hands and HAVEN'T had both extremely good and extremely bad runs of cards, you should be suspicious. But the good thing is that the extremely bad and the extremely good cancel out, and a good player can profit in the long run, while the players who use logic like "well it already picked someone to win", are the ones who may suck out a few times, but in the long run end up putting in more than they take out.

So in conclusion, if you're going to talk about the term "random", at least understand the basic definition, it's very annoying to talk to people who supposedly play poker yet don't even understand the definition of random.
 
ChuckTs

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Very nice (and very true) post, zachvac.

Too bad none of the fools who think that online poker is rigged are going to read it, nevermind actually agree with you if they do read it.
 
wickedlovely

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Very well thought out and written.

(Hope it doesn't get buried and lost in the masses of posts here.)
 
Monoxide

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I like the example of patterns in randomness. Random is called random for a reason....

"Compy-pro-2000" runs 10 random numbers between 1-10!

3712981547

1133333331


which set is more "randomized" ? lol :p

The 2nd set of numbers is rigged!!!!!1111111
 
dj11

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I like the example of patterns in randomness. Random is called random for a reason....

"Compy-pro-2000" runs 10 random numbers between 1-10!

3712981547

1133333331


which set is more "randomized" ? lol :p

The 2nd set of numbers is rigged!!!!!1111111

As a human, you made up a rule that does not exist in randomness. Your rule told you to only use each number, from 1-10 once, and only once. Randomness has no such rule. HOWEVER!, In poker such a rule does exist in randomness.
 
bubbasbestbabe

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Guess you guys are big fans of the tv show Numbers.
 
zachvac

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I like the example of patterns in randomness. Random is called random for a reason....

"Compy-pro-2000" runs 10 random numbers between 1-10!

3712981547

1133333331


which set is more "randomized" ? lol :p

The 2nd set of numbers is rigged!!!!!1111111

Guess you didn't read the part about unpredictable in the short run. But this does bring up an interesting point. This same teacher gave the following scenario. A teacher gives an assignment to kids in a class. Flip a coin 20 times and write down the results. Here are what kid A and kid B bring in to class.

kid A: HHTTTTHHTHTHTHHTTTHT
kid B: HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Despite both of these scenarios having the exact same probability of happening, he said he would probably flunk kid B and assume he had not done the assignment. Would you? They both have about a 0.00000095367 chance of happening. If kid B came up with something just as likely to a computer why would we assume that he cheated just because the sequence means something to us?

It's the same logic used in poker. If a royal flush comes up, we are surprised, but we don't usually make accusations of cheating. Now say you've been playing a normal card game, one guy sits down, and on 3 of his deals in a row, he gets a royal flush. Do you assume he's cheating? Or assume that a royal flush is just as likely as the other hands he could have dealt himself, and that we're just making too much of it.

The answer lies in the fact that we suspect there's a human element in it. When the 20 heads came up in a row, we didn't suspect the coin of flipping wrong, we suspect the PERSON flipping it of rigging it somehow or else making up results. We don't accuse the deck of cheating when there is a royal flush. But then again aren't we dealing with potential cheating by HUMANS with online poker? Absolutely. But the question comes in how unlikely the occurrance really is. It all lies in how likely that event OR something more unexpected would have happened. Guy deals himself TT, QQ, 77 3 hands in a row, we don't calculate the odds of him getting a T, then a T, then a Q, then a Q, then a 7, and finally a 7, we calculate the odds of him getting a generic pocket pair twice in a row because that's what is considered strange, not the fact that they are the specific cards.

But the principle holds true for other things as well. When you get a hand that matches the last hand, you calculate the odds of it happening that exact way and that exact time, and that is flawed. Next time something like that happens, state exactly what you think is strange. Is it strange that you flopped a flush? A straight? A full boat? TPTK? A hand better than a pair? Now for the next 100 hands record results. It changes a bit when you declare what you're looking for beforehand, doesn't it? All of a sudden you get a reasonable number, am I right? This is a common error in all of science, not just statistics. People see something happen and try to calculate the odds post facto. This is horrible logic, and contrary to the scientific method. Make a claim, and then collect statistics to try to prove your hypothesis, don't try to make hypotheses after looking at the data. That's flat out bad science, and it doesn't work in poker statistics either.

If more people understood these concepts (randomness, logic, and the scientific method), I'm pretty sure the number of people claiming poker to be rigged would go WAY down. But people lose, look to explain why, are quick to blame anyone but themselves, try to look at the data to explain why they're losing, and point out something that to them looks unlikely but was not unlikely at all (for example someone recently was upset with me because I called on the flop with a runner-runner flush draw and hit, never mind that I also had 2 over cards. Sure I hit a runner-runner, but me winning, which was all that mattered, was significantly more likely than just the runner-runner that actually hit). Unfortunately they probably don't understand these concepts for a similar reason that they aren't winning at poker. They don't want to take the time to actually learn, study, or understand a concept, and are content to blame others for their situation.

This happens all the time in life, look around you, how many people blame others for their problems? How many people think that THEY are at fault for their weight? People in society in general don't like taking responsibility for their actions, and although they'll say they want something bad (to be good at poker, to be in shape, lose weight, etc.), they hardly ever are willing to put in the time it takes to do it (time exercising, not eating unhealthy food, working hard at mastering the game of poker). Easier to take a pill to fix their weight, get plastic surgery to look better, blame the RNG if they lose at poker. But I don't complain, if everyone were willing to work hard in poker it'd be tough to make a profit, and if everyone worked hard in life we'd all have to work harder to achieve what we already do. Another of my wise HS teachers told me that if everyone got a PhD from MIT, we'd still need people to pick up our trash. Life is a big poker game. You're competing against everyone else in the world. All of a sudden more people are going to college, and you have to go to college to get a good job. It's not magic, it's competition. So I'm fine if everyone else wants to sit back and blame everyone else for their problems, I'm gonna keep on working hard at everything I do. So far it's gotten me into a good school that's paying for part of my tuition, I'm playing baseball at the college level, and I'm able to profit at poker. I'm sure many people are in similar situations, because I tend to think poker success is correlated with decision-making and success in life. So I'm fine if people want to keep blaming others, I'm just gonna keep working as hard as I can to get myself as far as I can go.

Wow, love how I went from random numbers to life lessons, not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing :)
 
aliengenius

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Yep, and it even has a name: the Law of Large Numbers:
That which has a low probability of ocurance in the short term actually has a high probability of occurring in the long run.
 
Boltneck

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Very interesting thread.

I'm anything but a mathmatician, so I'll put my own slant on things. How many people go into a shop and request 186 gms of a product (or 13 oz depending on your chosen unit of measurement)? No, the request will be for 200 gms or 1lb. In a 25c / 50c NL poker game, how many PFR's of $1.83 do you see? Not, many - it'll be $2. We like round rumbers, we feel comfortable with them. It's pretty much the same with random numbers / patterns. We have to see a patterm to be comfortable.

Boltneck
 
Semicolonkid

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I suppose I should say something, since I'm the one who made that post you mentioned at the top: I guess this makes a good bit of sense:)
 
zachvac

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I suppose I should say something, since I'm the one who made that post you mentioned at the top: I guess this makes a good bit of sense:)

Well I wasn't trying to single out any one post, there's been plenty I've seen. I'm glad it makes sense though, I'm not trying to belittle anyone, I'm hoping this can help people understand a concept that they don't totally understand. And understanding the concept of randomness can't hurt your poker ability.
 
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