Author Topic: Seating randomization  (Read 1365 times)

Crimson

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Seating randomization
« on: July 20, 2006, 06:52:47 PM »
Hi Corey,

I have been using Tournament Director for something like 7 months and I just received an email from one of my regulars that concerns me. Basically the gist of it is that she feels the seating randomization from week to week isn't very random. She says: "Because many have noticed that allot of the same individuals seem to sit together. There is no way the computer can keep selecting these same players to sit together, over and over again, no matter which table they play at. "

Is there any merit to these concerns? I always lock myself in a seat at table 1 that allows me to have a convenient place to both plug in and place my laptop without being in other players' way, but other than that I just press the "suggest seating" button and take what it gives me. I will admit that it seemed for 3-4 weeks in a row it placed my players named "Chris", "Christine", and "Cris" together, but that doesn't seem to happen anymore.

Just for reference, I run a game each week on Friday with anywhere from 13-22 players. I run 2 tables unless we surpass 18 players. Most of my players are regulars. Unfortunately, there is no log saved of seating assignments for me to provide any sort of analysis of.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.

-Christine

Corey Cooper

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Re: Seating randomization
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2006, 10:38:20 PM »
You know, at first I had this big long explanation of seating, and random number generation, and ECMAscript, and was looking to see if there were any flaws in ECMAscript implementations of the random number generator.......

Bottom line: is it possible?  Yes, absolutely, anything's possible.  Is it likely?  Not very.  ECMAscript is in very, very widespread use, so there's very unlikely any problems in its random number generator.  The Tournament Director has been in use... well, not as much as ECMAscript, but certainly a lot.  Thousands of people running thousands upon thousands of tournaments.  So, it's unlikely there's a problem in the seating implementation either (as far as randomness goes).

There are some things that could make one THINK the randomness isn't very good, like locking players in their seats, and placing dealer buttons.  But those mostly affect balancing tables, not initial random seating.

Here's a simple test.  Grab yourself a configured tournament, with tables defined and players bought-in.  (Or load a finished tournament and reset it if that's easier.)  Go to the Tables tab.  Press the Seat Players button.  Take a look at who is sitting where.  To make it easier, just pick a table and note who is sitting at that table.  Now unseat everyone by pressing the Clear button, checking Unseat all players, then pressing OK.  Now press the Seat Players button again and note where people are sitting.  Repeat this half a dozen times.  I just ran through this example myself, as I nearly always do when answering questions, and I didn't see anything close to the same seating arrangements at any iteration.

If you (or your tournament participants) are still uneasy about it, make a rule to perform this little ritual at the start of every tournament.  Kind of like shuffling the cards.  You'll seat and then unseat everyone 3 times, and then seat them a 4th and final time.   It's unnecessary, but we know poker people can be superstitious...  :)


Crimson

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Re: Seating randomization
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2006, 03:20:12 AM »
I figured it was something like that. But I thought it could maybe be possible that you're seeding the random number generator with something wrong. I don't know, but I figured it was worth a shot.

However, I will run your experiment and show my players that it IS random. Thanks for the input, seriously.

Just for argument's sake, is it at all possible that the randomness could be affected by the fact that I load a master file each time I start? I have a write-protected "default" file which contains a blank tournament with no prizes, no players, but all my buy-in settings and formulas. I load this file each time, then do a Save As... with the current date. Is it at all possible for this to affect it?

Yes, I know I'm reaching, but I try my hardest to run a very fair game for everyone and I'm a bit offended at the suggestion that I am somehow causing this alleged imbalance.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2006, 03:24:53 AM by Crimson »

Corey Cooper

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Re: Seating randomization
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2006, 10:57:46 AM »
As I said before, anything is possible.  I've been in software development for long enough to acknowledge that.  But again, I think it's far more unlikely than likely.

More technically: ECMAScript is the technical name for Javascript.  The ECMAScript standard actually doesn't specify anything other than the function of the random number generator (RNG).  Therefore, its implementation can be (and probably is) different with different implementations of javascript.  So, the possibility, I would argue, would exist in Microsoft's implementation of its RNG.  I realize just saying that opens doors in many people's minds to criticism, but again, it's been in widespread use for a long time, and primarily MS's implementation (I may love Firefox, but IE still has the major market share).  So, any serious problems would likely have been found by now.

As far as seeding, well that's the funny thing.  ECMAScript doesn't have a way to seed the RNG.  So you just have to "trust" the RNG.  Could this be the problem?  Again, maybe, but doubtful.  And again, if there was a problem, it would probably have turned up by now.

And I definitely think your write-protected tournament "template" has nothing to do with it.