Archive for April, 2008

Playoff Predictions, Round 2, 2008


I posted before the first round playoffs started to present some output from my NHL playoff simulator.

How’d it do at predicting the results? Well let’s have a look. I removed the later round predictions from the last post just to clean this up and make it easier to read. Correct predictions are in bold.

Montreal_Canadiens  0.720
Detroit_Red_Wings   0.811
Boston_Bruins       0.280
Nashville_Predators 0.189

Pittsburgh_Penguins 0.590
San_Jose_Sharks     0.634
Ottawa_Senators     0.410 Calgary_Flames      0.366

Washington_Capitals 0.481
Minnesota_Wild      0.468
Philadelphia_Flyers 0.519 Colorado_Avalanche  0.532

New_Jersey_Devils   0.477
Anaheim_Ducks       0.414
New_York_Rangers    0.523 Dallas_Stars        0.586

Not bad huh? In every case, the favourite team of each match was the one that won. Three of the series went right down to the wire though, and I honestly thought Washington was going to beat Philly in game 7. They were a feel good story this year, along with the Oilers late season push to the playoffs that fell *just* short. San Jose and Montreal almost choked in the first round on series leads, but managed to pull through in the end.

So what does the simulator say for the next round? Once again the first column is the probability of winning that round. The second column is the probability of winning the conference final, and the third column is the probability of taking home the cup. This run is one million playoff simulations seeded with the results of the first playoff round.

Montreal_Canadiens  0.616 0.348 0.147
Pittsburgh_Penguins 0.568 0.289 0.114
New_York_Rangers    0.432 0.189 0.064
Philadelphia_Flyers 0.384 0.174 0.056

Detroit_Red_Wings  0.772 0.530 0.380
San_Jose_Sharks    0.483 0.180 0.094
Dallas_Stars       0.517 0.199 0.107
Colorado_Avalanche 0.228 0.091 0.039

Detroit, Dallas, Montreal, and Pittsburgh are the favourites according to the simulator. The only selection that is a bit surprising for this round is Dallas – but I’m not too surprised by that considering some of the numbers they put up this year. If they can shut down Thornton, they’ve got a pretty good shot at the conference finals.

Overall Detroit still has the highest probability of winning the cup, up to 38% now. Montreal and Pittsburgh are neck and neck for second place in probability of winning the cup. Dallas and San Jose are next and the last three have a 6% or less chance.

Now that the first round is out, the last remaining Canadian team is my second favourite team in the league: the Montreal Canadiens. So since the Oil are down and out, I’m cheering for them. Push that 14.7% edge boys!


Trinity College Campus


Trinity College Campus, originally uploaded by Heraldk.

Dublin Poker Report


Euros!I recently got back from Dublin for a job interview. For a full trip report visit … but this post will summarize my experience at a Dublin casino for some poker.

On Saturday night, Aaron and Darse were thinking about going to play some poker so Diane graciously let me join them instead of returning to the hotel right away to sleep. So we ventured to the Dublin Sporting Emporium to play some 1/2 Pot Limit Hold’em.

The first stage in the process was to get a membership to the club which involved filling out a form and paying a 20 euro membership fee. To sweeten the deal a little (and encourage you to get some money into play), they gave each of us a 10 euro action chip to use at the tables. Once the process was over, we were admitted into the place. It had quite a classy feel, which was pretty cool. My experience at most casinos has been a feeling of cheap thrills, so it was pretty welcome to be in a place that didn’t make me feel that way. Maybe it was the whole membership process that helped it out, or maybe that casinos in Europe are just classier places?

Anyways, Darse and I had our play chips to attempt to convert into real money. So we went to the roulette table and each put a bet on a colour. I won my bet and let the action chip ride another two spins before losing it. So between us, Darse and I broke even at converting the action chips to real money. Woohoo!

The three of us went up a floor to the poker room where there was one 1/2 pot limit hold’em game going. Only two seats were open, so we played odds and evens to see who would get the first two seats. Darse was the odd man out, so Aaron and I bought in and sat down at two adjacent seats at the table. I started with 100 euros, but would later top up my chips for another 50 euros before I started to win.

Early on I didn’t get any hands which left me some time to watch how other players were doing. I’ve never really played pot limit before, although it’s not all that different from how I want to play no limit anyways. I picked out that most of the players really didn’t know how to play very well, although their play varied a little bit.

Apart from limping every so often or calling small raises with good pot odds from the button or the blinds, I didn’t play very many hands for the first several orbits. After a little while, Darse joined in with us and sat next to Aaron so there were three of us sitting in a row with Aaron on my left, and Darse on his left. Not long after that, I got my first hand: pocket twos! I made a raise and got three callers and flopped a set! Unfortunately, no one called my flop bet but it was good to win a pot.

The very next hand I picked up pocket eights and made an UTG raise once again getting many callers. The flop came A22. I made a continuation bet and got just one caller: a woman that seemed to be pretty solid. I checked the turn and folded to her pot sized bet. Well, I’m one for two now.

I continued to play pretty tight, although that was more of a function of the cards I was getting. A few hands later though I picked up aces and once again put in a raise. I got called by just a couple players. This time though I got some action from the guy to Darse’s left. He called my flop bet, but folded to my turn bet.

An orbit or two passes and I pick up aces again. Again I raise preflop, and the same guy who gave me action last time calls along with a few other players. The flop was all undercards to my aces and not particularly connected. I bet the flop, but this time I get raised by the same guy. At this point that wasn’t much more to me so I put the rest of my chips in – a raise of only 40 euro more into a pot totalling over 200 euros. He tanks for awhile before deciding to fold. Chalk it up to aces. I like aces.

We played on for a little while longer, and it seemed to me this guy was starting to take a dislike to me. There was a couple times where he squeezed me out of the pot – I would’ve liked to play against him, but I didn’t really feel like trying to do battle with my KJ-suited to his squeeze raise. A little more I think and I would’ve been able to play.

My next big hand was AK – and again my preflop raise was called by the same guy. I flopped top pair of kings on a KQx board. This time the guy raises me allin – so I call and after showing down my AK, he mucks his cards. I probably took close to 200 euro just from that guy alone!

I had one last big hand where I had QQ and got some action. I don’t remember the details, but I distinctly remember tossing three 25 euro black chips into the pot and getting folds. That was a pretty good sized pot to take down.

All told, I ended up over 240 euros to the good, which is officially my first winning session in any casino session I’ve ever played in (poker or otherwise) that wasn’t a tournament. Admittedly, I’ve only ever played cash poker games in the casino twice before. Once at foxwoods when I went to Boston and New York a couple years ago, and once when my friend Mike stopped by and we played at the casino closest to my house. So really, I haven’t had many data points – but if felt good to be up and up a good amount! It’s pretty intimidating to play live even though I know a lot about poker these days after playing so much online. So it’s good to get a victory under my belt.

All told, I think the trip to Dublin turned out to make me money instead of cost anything. The company paid for the flights and the hotel and most of the meals, and we’ll soon be settling up the cab fares. So aside from some small expenses, I didn’t really spend any money, but made a decent profit at the casino. Sweet deal!

I hope to hear back from pocket kings about the interview within the next week. I’ll let people know what the result is as soon as I know!




Hexagons, originally uploaded by Heraldk.

On the floor in the Trinity College campus.

In Ireland


I’ve got a bunch to say, but it might have to wait for after we get home. It’s been pretty busy – we’ve been wined and dined and I spent a bunch of time at the office chatting with people. It has gone really well so far, but I’ll wait until I get home until I talk about it a bit more. For a sneak peak, you can check out my flickr stream for a few photos I took when we got here.

Just figured I’d weigh in and say that we’re here safely and are enjoying ourselves (aside from the jetlag).


Storm Approaching


Storm Approaching, originally uploaded by Heraldk.

Taken just before Darse and Alexandra’s wedding.

Week of Busy


It’s been pretty busy the past few days. In the evenings after work I spent a large amount of time uploading backlogged photos to Flickr. I’ve gotten pretty far into my backlog, and I’ve almost got caught up to the point where I can start to post new photos again (and I’ve got a few to upload already).

I’ve been forced to change my focus though. Diane and I are headed to Ireland next week so I can meet some people at Full Tilt and hopefully get myself a job. I’ve been thinking for awhile what I could do for a demo if such a thing were called for. I was fast running out of time to make something brand new since that would take a lot of effot over a very short time period. Plus I didn’t really have any good ideas for stuff to do.

I remembered though that I had my lose-checkers program from my search course a couple years ago. So I’ve resurrected that, and my little demo program is one that utilizes sockets to play one program against another. It’s not all that flashy, but it was a really good review of socket programming for me. I’ve got the basic code working and will be testing it and adding a few features over the next couple days before we leave on tuesday night for Ireland.

I’m getting pretty excited about the trip. I don’t know what to expect, but it should be cool to see Dublin and meet some people working in a field that I’d like to be a part of.

Wish me luck!




Stairs, originally uploaded by Heraldk.

I rather like the mixed sepia applied to this photo. Makes it look pretty neat I think.



Artsy, originally uploaded by Heraldk.

Diane took this photo while we were exploring Dr Sun Yat Sen’s chinese garden in Vancouver. That’s me reflected in the pond, and there’s a pretty spider web.

Predicting the NHL Playoffs 07/08


I’ve become increasingly interested in computer solutions and simulations for domains where you might not expect something can be done. One domain that I’ve been more and more interested in is NHL hockey — a sport that I’m a fan of.

So before the 2007/2008 playoffs started, I decided to write a simulator that figured out how likely it was that each team won the stanley cup based on their regular season statistics. The results are below, with each team’s probability of making it past each round the numbers in the columns. So the Montreal Canadiens have a 72% chance of beating the bruins, and a 12.2% chance of winning the cup.

 Montreal_Canadiens  0.720 0.446 0.264 0.122
 Pittsburgh_Penguins 0.590 0.362 0.193 0.083
 Washington_Capitals 0.481 0.224 0.097 0.033
 New_Jersey_Devils   0.477 0.217 0.096 0.034
 New_York_Rangers    0.523 0.250 0.116 0.043
 Philadelphia_Flyers 0.519 0.236 0.110 0.039
 Ottawa_Senators     0.410 0.167 0.086 0.030
 Boston_Bruins       0.280 0.098 0.039 0.010

 Detroit_Red_Wings   0.811 0.622 0.449 0.330
 San_Jose_Sharks     0.634 0.368 0.150 0.082
 Minnesota_Wild      0.468 0.187 0.056 0.024
 Anaheim_Ducks       0.414 0.182 0.069 0.033
 Dallas_Stars        0.586 0.306 0.141 0.079
 Colorado_Avalanche  0.532 0.178 0.068 0.031
 Calgary_Flames      0.366 0.086 0.037 0.015
 Nashville_Predators 0.189 0.072 0.030 0.012

What’s startling is Detroit’s enormous 33% chance of winning the whole thing. A couple of other surprises include Dallas’ relatively high probability of winning the cup (7.9%). It’s much higher than the Ducks or Avs which are next to them in the standings.

How does this work? I basically calculate the average goals a team is expected to score against their opposing team by using the season goals-for and goals-against numbers. I use this to simulate games between teams and run entire playoff simulations. The probabilities above are simply the number of times that team reaches the next round divided by the number of simulations.

I don’t have very many features added in that I would like to add. One particular one is a recency statistic that increases the relevance of the last 20 games of the season. I expect that such a statistic will greatly increase San Jose and Washington’s chances of winning the cup and probably dampen Dallas’ chances.

Credit to Darse for giving me some hints and tips on how to create my simulator. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to work on it a bit more so that I can build in some more statistics to help it make a more informed decision.


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