Online Poker Games behavior

Mmh this is not a 'Texas Hold'em' spam post! It's just that I found this topic curious: Hiding and Revealing in Online Poker Games byScott A. Golder and Judith Donath. A nice account of "how card room interfaces can better support the psychological aspects of the game by critiquing the dominant methods of visualizing players: with generic avatars, and with text-only handles".

One of the significant problems in online poker is that most of the psychological and social information that can be gleaned at a card table is not present in online poker interfaces, greatly diminishing the authenticity and enjoyability of the game. In this paper, we discuss the nature and value of psychological and social information in poker, contrast the environments of some virtual card rooms, and make recommendations for general improvement. (...) The overarching problem with current poker interfaces is that much of the detail provided is devoid of meaning, while meaningful detail is absent. Useless detail like garish carpeting and scenery (Figures 1 and 2) provide no real meaning beyond the table metaphor. Misleading avatars (Figure 1) at once convey too much information (through stereotyped images) and too little (due to their being static, unchanging and unmoving). We suggest that human-like representations, if used at all, should not convey potentially meaningful cues that are not instigated by user action. (...) Though poker relies on social information, the majority of current online poker systems do not adequately convey that information, or do so in an inaccurate or problematic way. Being able to recognize other players and remember past interactions is essential, as is being given appropriate, accurate information on which to judge them.

Why do I blog this? first because I find the topic interesting. Second, because we're working on how people model/infer others' intents while doing something together, this is closely related to our concerns. There is indeed one paragraph about it in the paper:

Much socially interpretable information comes from activity directly related to gameplay, even when it is not a player’s turn. These activities include users repeatedly looking at their cards or manipulating their chips. The former is often an unconscious response to a good hand, and the latter may be indicative of one’s desire to bet. Players’ behavior during their non-turn time, whether they are contemplative, inattentive, or even disconnected, can reveal their state of mind. If these activities are transmitted to others, players will feel as though their behavior “counts” even when it is not their turn. Many things compete for computer users’ attention; if players multitask when it is not their turn, they may not give complete attention to the game. Because keeping track of one’s own socially interpretable information and that of others gives attentive players a competitive advantage, there would be a financial incentive to pay attention, which would make the game more captivating and therefore more enjoyable.