Visualizing Poker Theory

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cabbotage

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Hey, I've been lurking for a while, but this is my first post. I've been playing seriously for a little over a year and would consider myself well-read, but definitely still a beginner player.

When I'm not playing poker I'm a graphic designer specializing in infographics and for a while now I've been experimenting with applying some of that information design to all the poker theory I've been reading.

For example, Sklansky's Hand Groups are a great tool, especially for beginning players, for understanding the relative strengths of starting hands. Unfortunately, even if one memorizes the tables, I don't find that they provide a lot of insight into why certain hands are strong and what new hands are opened up as one moves down the groups. So I tried to put his tables into a format that would be more user friendly, and hopefully more revealing. Here's a link to my exploration.

Along the same lines, I wanted a better method for looking over individual games or tournaments and being able to pick out large scale patterns of play. It's true that the information can be deduced by looking at the spreadsheet output from programs like PokerTracker, but its often possible to reveal patterns with how you graphically present the information. Here's a link to exploration along those lines.

Specifically, this is a sparkline chart for a 6 handed Sit 'n Go.

The whole game was 151 hands. The lines extending upwards represent hands won. The lines extending down represent hands lost. The dashes in the middle represent "folded without betting." If a line is blue it means that I was dealt Group 4 hands or better.

I know this is kind of a long post, but it's been a project I've been working on for a while and would love to get some real-world feedback.

For those who track their statistics on a regular basis, does this seem useful or interesting? It's certainly not going to revolutionize anything, but mostly just offer a different perspective on the same information.

Thanks!
 
dj11

dj11

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First let me welcome you to Cardschat.

And second, thanks for chiming in with such a thoughtful post.

I like that sparkline chart. That is a word/name I've never run into but I see that it googles fair numbers. It it a new concept?

At a glance it does present a lot of info, and I agree that sometimes the data mining is worse than nothing at all, so if you can figure away to simplify, you will go a long long way with it.:D
 
NineLions

NineLions

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Interesting idea.

I guess you're not interested in how the hands play; KTs the suits don't matter preflop but for evaluation it matters in a suited or flush draw flop.

And the blind size, or at least the point in the charts when the blinds change should affect how often you raise/shove, as well as the table size.

But anytime you can look at something in a new way there's potential for new understanding, so good on you.
 
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cabbotage

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@NineLions: You're right, the representation of Sklansky's Hand Groupings doesn't give you any help post-flop, his lists are just a guide to pre-flop strength. What I found interesting and useful about the new charts, was that it was possible to see which hands (and more importantly, categories of hands - pairs, connectors...) were being added at each group. Again, these are revelations probably more appreciated by beginner players - with experience these things become second nature - but as a beginning step in that understanding... I've found it useful. :D

As for the sparklines, since it only looks at a single game, it doesn't give you the same information that you would get when looking at a spread sheet to see how well KTs performs for you over thousands of hands - but what it does to is let you quickly scan over a given game, something that the text-based hand history doesn't let you do.

Also, if anyone is interested or just curious, if you send me a copy of your hand history for a game, I'd be happy to run it through and send you the result. Right now the program only works on Hold 'Em games from full tilt poker. At this point we're experimenting, not trying to cover all the bases. :D
 
WVHillbilly

WVHillbilly

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So from the sparkline, I think I can deduce that you won (last line goes up) and that you played 61 of 151 hands (loose). Of the 61 hands you played you only lost 8 (so I would assume you are aggressive and don't go to SD very often).
 
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cabbotage

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Your deductions are correct (which is fantastic!), but the game in question is pretty shaky :D

I did win it, but it was only a 6 person, Play-Money, STT on Full Tilt - It was just one of the first sample games we ran through the program. The game was long enough to have enough hands to look at, but not such a large game that if we needed to debug things, we'd have to pick through hundreds of hands.

After probably the 20th hand we were down to 4 players, and shortly after that we were down to 3.. hence the apparently loose style :D
 
WVHillbilly

WVHillbilly

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Maybe you could key the lines so we could tell if the hand reached show down (an arrow end or something). I think I kind of like it.

What sorts of applications normally use these types of visualizations?
 
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cabbotage

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Something to show whether the hand reached a showdown or not is a great idea. I also think that showing position could be a useful (BB, SB, But.) - however most of the data I have so far are for small tournaments, and once you get down to less than a table full of people, the blinds come around so often that they're almost irrelevant. But were experimenting with ways to show that. I don't know if you read the whole posts, but in addition to the sparkline showing wins and losses, I also had one where the chip stack is shown as well, which lets you see whether wins or losses were big or small.

As far as what other applications use this sort of visualization - I'm not sure if there are any poker specific applications that do. I haven't come across any, but there are tons of programs out there (and I'm on a Mac, so very few work for me). This "binary" sparkline is great for showing wins and losses and I've seen some great charts of baseball or basketball seasons summarized the same way. At a glance it lets you see win (or loss) streaks across the season.

If you're really interested, this would be everything you ever wanted to know about sparklines (and different applications for them).
 
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