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Subject: Completely Secret Betting rss

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Sean McCarthy
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Recently we've been playing this where instead of betting with your 2, 1, 1, 0 chips, you just write your bets down on paper. Essentially, everyone gets three extra 0 (bluff) bets: no one has any information about what horses the others bet on.

This seems to have the following effect: People can more reasonably bet on a longshot horse. The reason this was implausible before was that there were typically a couple horses which quite apparently no one cared about. This leeway in not caring about a couple horses (and not caring much about your 1 bets either, because everyone is on them) allows players to totally screw over all the longshot horses that anyone else bet on. The result is that everyone consolidates their betting chips even more onto the first four horses in the race (because the bluff chip does more good there than anywhere else), resulting in even more positive feedback and consolidation.

On the other hand, if every single horse might have been bet on, and you have no information about where there are bets, people instead need to prioritize caring about their own horses, including those with only 1 bets. The resulting games are quite a bit more fun, in our experience. It also speeds up the betting phase a bit, as it's completely parallelized. And best of all, it lets you pretend you bet on anyone!

If you find your group has similarly fallen into a pattern of betting on just 4-5 horses and effectively punishing anyone who diverges, or you just want a bit more drama, I recommend trying this out. It's completely revitalized the game for me.

(Edit: This is a variant for Royal Turf. Winner's Circle is a later version of Royal Turf, but it's a different game. Nevertheless, the Royal Turf BGG entry where I posted this variant has been renamed and repurposed to be about Winner's Circle, so here we are.)
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Andrew MacLeod
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And when, exactly, are we playing Churchill again?
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SevenSpirits wrote:
Recently we've been playing this where instead of betting with your 2, 1, 1, 0 chips, you just write your bets down on paper. Essentially, everyone gets three extra 0 (bluff) bets: no one has any information about what horses the others bet on.

This seems to have the following effect: People can more reasonably bet on a longshot horse. The reason this was implausible before was that there were typically a couple horses which quite apparently no one cared about.


First of all, I do frequently care about a horse that no one has bet on. Why? Because if I have a choice between moving a horse that has no bets on it, and a horse that has an OPPONENT'S bet on it, then I would be doing my best to see that the opponent's horse comes in lastdevil!

SevenSpirits wrote:
This leeway in not caring about a couple horses (and not caring much about your 1 bets either, because everyone is on them) allows players to totally screw over all the longshot horses that anyone else bet on.


I'm sorry, Sean: I'm not sure I'm following you here. Are you implying that your people play with your bets face up? Otherwise, how could you even know that everyone is on the 1 bets?

SevenSpirits wrote:
The result is that everyone consolidates their betting chips even more onto the first four horses in the race (because the bluff chip does more good there than anywhere else), resulting in even more positive feedback and consolidation.


"Consolidating even more on the first four horses"? In our typical games, the bets are pretty spread out among the horses, with maybe an ever so slight preponderance on the first four. I've even seen some games where there have been NO bets on the first horse, due to it having rotten numbers.

SevenSpirits wrote:
On the other hand, if every single horse might have been bet on, and you have no information about where there are bets, people instead need to prioritize caring about their own horses, including those with only 1 bets. The resulting games are quite a bit more fun, in our experience. It also speeds up the betting phase a bit, as it's completely parallelized. And best of all, it lets you pretend you bet on anyone!

If you find your group has similarly fallen into a pattern of betting on just 4-5 horses and effectively punishing anyone who diverges, or you just want a bit more drama, I recommend trying this out. It's completely revitalized the game for me.


A HUGE part of the appeal of Winner's Circle for me is knowing that my opponents have bet on certain horses, but not knowing what specifically they have bet on them. As for "effectively punishing anyone who diverges" from the betting pattern, that's what the bluff bets are for: do I try to hamper that one horse who has only one bet on it? Or is that a bluff, and I'm ignoring far more important horses that are making too much progress for my liking? For me, just focusing on the horses that I've bet on without seeing where other players' bets are reduces Winner's Circle to a roll-the-dice-and-move game. But, having said that, it's a VERY interesting notion you're proposing.
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Sean McCarthy
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Andrew, imagine a game where everyone but you places all four betting chips on the first four horses. Now what do you do? Those horses are probably going to do well. Honestly, if you don't place at least two of your bets on them, you're screwed. But maybe you place one bet on a different horse.

That horse now gets totally hammered by the other players in their free time. It has no chance of winning. What about putting your zero on the longshot? Well, then people know for sure which of the four main horses you didn't bet on, and can take advantage of that.

The result is that you, too, must bet on the first four horses, because being the odd one out is really bad and will cause you to lose money on everyone else. So no one diverges.

Now, it's not always as simple as the first four horses. I really mean the best four horses, but because they all have comparable movement capabilities that's often the first four. Occasionally some people will disagree on what the best four horses are and the bets are spread over five horses. But it's the same deal.

Hopefully this clarifies the situation I'm talking about sufficiently. Now, to answer:

Quote:
First of all, I do frequently care about a horse that no one has bet on. Why? Because if I have a choice between moving a horse that has no bets on it, and a horse that has an OPPONENT'S bet on it, then I would be doing my best to see that the opponent's horse comes in last!

Certainly. But the priority is:
1) My two horse.
2) Screw the horse that I bet zero on, that other people bet on.
3) Help my one bet horses, hoping they beat my zero bet horse.

The completely neutral horses are a lot less interesting (and not likely to win anyway, being in the back).

Quote:
I'm sorry, Sean: I'm not sure I'm following you here. Are you implying that your people play with your bets face up? Otherwise, how could you even know that everyone is on the 1 bets?

You can see their face-down betting chips on the horse! The average value of those chips is 1, which is the same as your own bet. So by default you are neutral about your 1 bets.

Quote:
"Consolidating even more on the first four horses"? In our typical games, the bets are pretty spread out among the horses, with maybe an ever so slight preponderance on the first four. I've even seen some games where there have been NO bets on the first horse, due to it having rotten numbers.

The question is... why? Do you think that's good play? Horses with multiple supporters have a big advantage over horses with only 1-2 players on them. Thus there is a big incentive for everyone to want to bet on horses that are being well-supported (bet on by other players).

Quote:
A HUGE part of the appeal of Winner's Circle for me is knowing that my opponents have bet on certain horses, but not knowing what specifically they have bet on them. As for "effectively punishing anyone who diverges" from the betting pattern, that's what the bluff bets are for: do I try to hamper that one horse who has only one bet on it? Or is that a bluff, and I'm ignoring far more important horses that are making too much progress for my liking?

In my view, like I said above, this just doesn't work if people are playing optimally. I could be wrong though.

Quote:
For me, just focusing on the horses that I've bet on without seeing where other players' bets are reduces Winner's Circle to a roll-the-dice-and-move game. But, having said that, it's a VERY interesting notion you're proposing.

Certainly you don't just focus on the horses you bet on! The majority of the gameplay is trying to figure out the other players' bets by how they move.
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Andrew MacLeod
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SevenSpirits wrote:
Andrew, imagine a game where everyone but you places all four betting chips on the first four horses. Now what do you do? Those horses are probably going to do well. Honestly, if you don't place at least two of your bets on them, you're screwed.


Well, what I would do would (in no small part) depend on how well I had been doing thus far in this particular game! If I'm way ahead in terms of my winnings, then I would be quite hesitant in putting my bet on a horse with no other bets. If I don't have a lot of money, then I'm playing with a pack of idiots if they're all going to be placing their bets on horses that are favoured by the leader. They're just helping him along to victory. Furthermore, yes, I WOULD be the lone guy on horses in situations like that IF the four horses weighed down with bets had pathetic average movement differential. I don't care if 48 people have bets on Sysonby: that horse is rarely gonna finish! And if everyone else has been mad enough NOT to bet on Armed in starting spot 7, then I'll bet on Armed. The trick in this game is knowing when you want to share the wealth: longshots (by definition) tend not to win. Therefore, I'm usually willing to bet on a longshot only if a number of people have already bet on it, and it's in the first few starting positions. But if a horse has a good average movement differential, and a decent track history, then I don't want all that much to be sharing potential winnings with other bettors. I guess it's all about risk management.

SevenSpirits wrote:
But maybe you place one bet on a different horse. That horse now gets totally hammered by the other players in their free time. It has no chance of winning. What about putting your zero on the longshot? Well, then people know for sure which of the four main horses you didn't bet on, and can take advantage of that.


Right. So I'll be placing a lot more than one bet on the four unoccupied horses! (Subject to their average movement differential and track record, of course.)

SevenSpirits wrote:
The result is that you, too, must bet on the first four horses, because being the odd one out is really bad and will cause you to lose money on everyone else. So no one diverges.

Now, it's not always as simple as the first four horses. I really mean the best four horses, but because they all have comparable movement capabilities that's often the first four. Occasionally some people will disagree on what the best four horses are and the bets are spread over five horses. But it's the same deal.


In my experience (probably pushing forty games of Winner's Circle), horses in the first three positions either win, place or show no more than 50% of the time. I have rarely seen a horse in position seven win, but I do see them (not uncommonly) placing or showing. As for position six, I frequently see a good horse winning. Apart from longshots or bluff bets, I don't pay a lot of attention to their starting position anymore.

SevenSpirits wrote:
Quote:
First of all, I do frequently care about a horse that no one has bet on. Why? Because if I have a choice between moving a horse that has no bets on it, and a horse that has an OPPONENT'S bet on it, then I would be doing my best to see that the opponent's horse comes in last!

Certainly. But the priority is:
1) My two horse.

Not necessarily. If there's a lot of bets on your two horse, then it's very often the case that you'll be making more money on one of your one bet horses if the one bet wins. I bet my two bet on a horse that I have a great deal of confidence in. But, if everybody else joins in, a one horse becomes my preferred choice if there's not many bets on it: more money in my pocket. In fact, I frequently find myself (in the final stretch) deliberately slowing down my two bet horse if it's in first place...if I've a got a one bet horse one or two positions behind it with few bets. I've actually won a few whole games by using that very tactic.
SevenSpirits wrote:
2) Screw the horse that I bet zero on, that other people bet on.

Generally, yes, but not in the first two or three rounds (unless you've bet on Regret!).I find it helps to give mild assistance to your bluff horse to keep opponents guessing.

SevenSpirits wrote:
The completely neutral horses are a lot less interesting (and not likely to win anyway, being in the back).
Quote:
"Consolidating even more on the first four horses"? In our typical games, the bets are pretty spread out among the horses, with maybe an ever so slight preponderance on the first four. I've even seen some games where there have been NO bets on the first horse, due to it having rotten numbers.

The question is... why? Do you think that's good play?

Oh yes, definitely! It depends on the average movement differential and the track history of the particular horse far, FAR more than starting position.
SevenSpirits wrote:
Horses with multiple supporters have a big advantage over horses with only 1-2 players on them. Thus there is a big incentive for everyone to want to bet on horses that are being well-supported (bet on by other players).

Not if they're rotten horses, and not if the players who have bet on them are in the lead: they have targets painted on their backs.
Of one thing I'm sure we'd agree on, though, Sean: we're approaching this game from RADICALLY different perspectives!
And they're off.......
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Sean McCarthy
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Honestly I didn't understand half your last post. Is Winner's Circle the same game as Royal Turf, which is what this variant is for?
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Andrew MacLeod
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SevenSpirits wrote:
Honestly I didn't understand half your last post. Is Winner's Circle the same game as Royal Turf, which is what this variant is for?


Holy smoke! I think we're on to something here!
I have NEVER played Royal Turf, only Winner's Circle. When I first got into Winner's Circle, I read a lot of older threads that were about Royal Turf specifically. I gleaned some useful information out of them, but gradually came to realize that, in spite of all the press claiming that Winner's Circle was basically a new version of Royal Turf, there were MAJOR differences between the two games.
Therefore, if your variant that you're proposing is for Royal Turf, and not Winner's Circle, then (speaking from my depths of ignorance that I have re Royal Turf) your variant might be the absolute perfect addition for Royal Turf!
OOOOOPS! Sorry for the confusion, Sean!blush
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