Computer Dice

Forum Archive : Computer Dice

Winning and losing streaks

From:   Daniel Murphy
Date:   10 March 1998
Subject:   Re: Just played my last game at (yuk!) Netgammon

> Don't ask me how or why this is happening. I don't have an answer
> for either. The only thing I KNOW is that ever since Netgammon
> started I have had MANY and almost CONSTANT huge winning and losing
> streaks.

In backgammon, winning and losing streaks are normal, natural and
expected. They happen to everyone who plays a lot of backgammon on any
internet server or in real life. They happen to bad players, to average
players, and to good players. They happen to every frequent player I know.

I think they happen more often to average players. Bad players won't
have too many long winning streaks. Good players shouldn't have too
many long losing streaks. Average players seem most likely to benefit
from a streak of hot dice, or suffer from a streak of bad rolling.

Does that seem reasonable? I think so.

But consider this: On FIBS, where I play, even the best players see
their ratings go up and down by large amounts. Among these players,
swings of 100 or more points are not unusual. Swings of 200 or more
points are less usual but they still happen -- it happened to one of
the best players on FIBS!

Here's another -- perhaps better -- example. "yabe," a computer
program that always plays the same, hmmm, not great but above average
game, was rated 1900 two days ago and was back down to 1740 yesterday.
The bots play a lot, so they can win or lose a lot of points quickly
-- but that's a swing of 160 points in just two days' worth of 1-point

Now here's something else I've observed. Maybe others have observed
this too. There seems to be something about playing against a computer
or on an internet server that's different from playing in real life.
The unlucky rolls and losing streaks are more noticeable.  They seem
to be more "impossible" -- and a whole lot more irritating!

I'm not sure why this is. Maybe because you see the result in your
rating after every match. Maybe because the dice are out of your
control. Maybe because the pace is faster. Everything -- including
those "miracle" rolls -- seems to happen so quickly. Maybe because a
lot of us play so much more on the internet than in real life.

Or maybe because -- and it's perfectly natural -- people tend to blame
their losing streaks on bad dice, and credit excellent play for their
winning streaks. But actually -- well, I see two possibilities.

What happens when you're losing?

One possibility is that you're such a good player that you don't let a
losing streak bother you. You keep playing your same good game, but
you're unlucky. Sooner or later, your luck turns around.

Another -- and to me more likely -- possibility is that you *do* let
your losing streak bother you. You blame the dice. You don't wonder if
perhaps you're not playing as well as you could. Or worse -- you start
questioning your own judgment. You become afraid to make the best
plays and cube decisions. You play worse when you're losing. As a
result, you lose more. Your losing streak lasts longer.

What happens when you're winning? You become more confident. You don't
play like you're afraid to lose. You make the right plays and the
right cube decisions. As a result (and come on, now, admit it --
you're a little lucky too, right?) you win more. Your winning streak
lasts longer.

If these observations of mine are useful to other backgammon players,
great. I know that thinking about them once in a while helps me play
Daniel Murphy
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Computer Dice

Dice on backgammon servers  (Hank Youngerman, July 2001) 
Does Agushak Backgammon cheat?  (Mr Nabutovsky, June 2000) 
Does BG by George cheat?  (George Sutty, Nov 1995) 
Does Backgammon NJ cheat?  (Greg+, June 2010) 
Does Cybergammon cheat?  (Goto Informatique, Aug 1996) 
Does David's Backgammon cheat?  (Joseph B. Calderone, June 1998) 
Does GNU Backgammon cheat?  (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen, Nov 2002) 
Does Gammontool cheat?  (Jim Hurley, Sept 1991) 
Does Hyper-Gammon cheat?  (ZZyzx, June 1996) 
Does Jellyfish cheat?  (Fredrik Dahl, June 1997) 
Does MVP Backgammon cheat?  (Mark Betz, Oct 1996) 
Does MonteCarlo cheat?  (Matt Reklaitis, June 1998) 
Does Motif cheat?  (Rick Kiesau+, Mar 2004)  [Long message]
Does Motif cheat?  (Billie Patterson, Feb 2003) 
Does Motif cheat?  (Robert D. Johnson, Oct 1996) 
Does Snowie cheat?  (André Nicoulin, Sept 1998) 
Does TD-Gammon cheat?  (Gerry Tesauro, Feb 1997) 
Error rates with computer dice  (NoChinDeluxe+, Feb 2011) 
FIBS: Analysis of 10 million rolls  (Stephen Turner, Apr 1997)  [Recommended reading]
FIBS: Are the dice biased?  (Kit Woolsey, Oct 1996) 
FIBS: Entering from the bar  (Tom Keith+, Apr 1997) 
GamesGrid: Too many jokers?  (Gregg Cattanach, Sept 2001) 
GridGammon: Are the dice random?  (leobueno+, Sept 2011) 
Jellyfish: How to check the dice  (John Goodwin, May 1998)  [Recommended reading]
Jellyfish: Proof it doesn't cheat  (Gary Wong, July 1998) 
MSN Zone: Security flaw  (happyjuggler0, June 2004) 
Official complaint form  (Gary Wong, June 1998)  [Recommended reading]
Randomness testing  (Brett Meyer+, Dec 2010) 
Safe Harbor Games dice  (Michael Petch+, Aug 2011) 
Synopsis of "cheating" postings  (Ray Karmo, Feb 2002) 
Testing for bias  (Kit Woolsey, Jan 1995) 
The dice sure seem unfair!  (Michael Sullivan, Apr 2004) 
Too many repeated rolls?  (Stephen Turner, Mar 1994) 
Winning and losing streaks  (Daniel Murphy, Mar 1998) 

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