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do you TRAM in Pinochle?
#1
TRAM is an abbreviation for "The Rest Are Mine". When I say that a player "has TRAM", I mean that the player has all the winning cards, no matter how the cards are played.

For example, suppose the trump suit is Spades, and I own all the remaining Spades cards. Then I've got TRAM.

However, if I have the Queen and 4 Aces in the trump suit, while someone else has the King of Spades, I do not have TRAM. If the player owning the King leads with that card, and I follow with the Queen, I will not take all the remaining cards. If I lead with the Queen, and that player takes the trick with the King, then I don't take all the cards either. So TRAM means not only that you can take all the cards if you play them right, but that you must take all the cards no matter in what order they are played.

I know that TRAM is commonly used in online game sites, where it's easy enough to let the computer figure out that a player has all the winning cards. At that point, if there are more than just a couple tricks left, some people consider it nothing more than a waste of time to play each card of each trick. They'd rather just sweep all the cards to the winner.

At Wikipedia, it is mentioned that TRAM is sometimes used by a player in live Spades games.

So - are people used to TRAMing in Pinochle? Is it just something you see in computer-based games, or does it happen in offline games too?
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#2
I suppose there are two reasons why a person would elect to TRAM:
  1. Speed up the game.
  2. Show off the number of "guaranteed" tricks that you have near the end of the hand.

In the early years of online card games, speed was an issue because so many people were using slow internet connections.
Because modern online players are usually on a reasonably fast internet connection, the speed difference is negligible.

Offline games may or may not be "slow" depending on the table of players.
The homegames that rak and I played in allowed TRAMing.
To avoid a disruptions to the normal flow of the game, we instituted the rule that when the TRAMer tabled his/her remaining cards face up, the opposing players were allowed to take a moment to check if they could beat any of the cards shown.  If even one card was beatable by the opposition, ALL OF THE TRICKS then went to the opposition!  By my memory, this TRAM backfire only happened once or twice in a 3 or 4 year span; and the erring TRAMer was the subject of extreme ridicule for some time to follow.  The fear of embarrassment combined with the lack of benefit saw most players simply playing it all out.  If they wanted to be cocky about the quality of their remaining cards, they would individually play their remaining cards starting with the weakest.  This is the same type of chest-puffing behavior as throwing a 10 early in a trick when you have all 4 Aces of a suit.

But really, on average, how many tricks are being TRAMed in a Play round?  2? 3? 4?
My opinion is that the time savings probably isn't all that much and is low value to me.  Others are certainly entitled to disagree with that comment.  

I should ask, marya, if you develop the TRAM feature of WOCG, will it be a user triggered event or a programmatical hijack of the controls?

I think a TRAM feature in an online pinochle game would lead to a few bad things.
  • Players will compromise their normal playing style to gain a potentially higher number of tricks to TRAM.
  • If a user triggered event, players may click the TRAM option and unnecessarily lose the remaining tricks.
  • If a user triggered event, players may accidentally click TRAM very early in the Play round, and sacrifice a large number of tricks/points.

As far as the impact of TRAM on the PPN, I think I have it covered.

Programmatically annotate the start of the TRAM, and arbitrarily assign a sequence for the tabling of the remaining cards (play the cards left to right if you wish):

Code:
...
CA CQ CJ CK (N2)
DT DQ DK DK (N3)
SA SK SK SJ (N3)
HT HJ HK HQ (N4)
...
@P.17-R=[Note "TRAM"]
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#3
Hi Mick,

(10-23-2015, 02:23 AM)mickmackusa Wrote:  In the early years of online card games, speed was an issue because so many people were using slow internet connections.
Because modern online players are usually on a reasonably fast internet connection, the speed difference is negligible.

That's funny, I have the opposite impression! I think that people use TRAM moslty because they are impatient. People do not want to watch the winning player take 4 or 5 (or more) tricks in a row, and they don't want to spend the time taking them, themselves. It is true that internet connections are much faster than they used to be... humans have adjusted, and now want gameplay to proceed at lightning pace.

It's my perception that taking 4-5 tricks in a row is more likely to make the person appear arrogant. The other players are thinking "let's get this over with, and start the next hand", while the player taking each individual trick is thinking "I'm taking every last trick, and I'm going to make you suffer through each and every one!"

It's also possible that they do not trust that the TRAM mechanism is accurate, and want to verify what cards were still in play.

(10-23-2015, 02:23 AM)mickmackusa Wrote:  But really, on average, how many tricks are being TRAMed in a Play round?  2? 3? 4?
My opinion is that the time savings probably isn't all that much and is low value to me.  Others are certainly entitled to disagree with that comment.  

I haven't checked... people do TRAM with 2 cards, in which case the advantage is minimal. Personally, I'm happy to get to the next hand when TRAM is allowed and the business of taking all tricks is cut short.

(10-23-2015, 02:23 AM)mickmackusa Wrote:  I should ask, marya, if you develop the TRAM feature of WOCG, will it be a user triggered event or a programmatical hijack of the controls?

At WoCG, TRAM is available for almost every game already, where it makes sense.

The way it works is that the computer checks to see if the player taking the trick has all the highest cards, regardless of the order in which they are played. If this case is detected, the player is offered a TRAM button. They can ignore it, and take every trick in turn. If they hit it, everyone's cards are swept into their spot, with points accrued as usual, and the hand finishes after that.

(10-23-2015, 02:23 AM)mickmackusa Wrote:  I think a TRAM feature in an online pinochle game would lead to a few bad things.
  • Players will compromise their normal playing style to gain a potentially higher number of tricks to TRAM.
  • If a user triggered event, players may click the TRAM option and unnecessarily lose the remaining tricks.
  • If a user triggered event, players may accidentally click TRAM very early in the Play round, and sacrifice a large number of tricks/points.

The 2 last cases are not cause for concern. There are no ill effects of TRAMing, because the TRAM button is ony presented when TRAM is absolutely legal. All points are counted as usual when TRAMing.

I find it hard to believe that players would alter their playing style to get a higher number of tricks to TRAM - at least it would be rare. Most card games are complicated enough without trying to make sure that you TRAM. I suspect that trying to assure a TRAM could be harmful to your score (the best way to try to TRAM is to retain Aces and trump cards early on, which could be counterproductive).

(10-23-2015, 02:23 AM)mickmackusa Wrote:  As far as the impact of TRAM on the PPN, I think I have it covered.

Support for TRAM is much appreciated! Interesting to hear that you have used it in offline games, too.

Marya
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#4
(10-23-2015, 08:07 AM)marya Wrote:  That's funny, I have the opposite impression! I think that people use TRAM mostly because they are impatient. People do not want to watch the winning player take 4 or 5 (or more) tricks in a row, and they don't want to spend the time taking them, themselves. It is true that internet connections are much faster than they used to be... humans have adjusted, and now want gameplay to proceed at lightning pace.

I'm going to definitely agree with you on those points.

(10-23-2015, 08:07 AM)marya Wrote:  The way it works is that the computer checks to see if the player taking the trick has all the highest cards, regardless of the order in which they are played. If this case is detected, the player is offered a TRAM button. They can ignore it, and take every trick in turn. If they hit it, everyone's cards are swept into their spot, with points accrued as usual, and the hand finishes after that.

I like that fool-proof implementation!

(10-23-2015, 08:07 AM)marya Wrote:  
(10-23-2015, 02:23 AM)mickmackusa Wrote:  
  • Players will compromise their normal playing style to gain a potentially higher number of tricks to TRAM.

I find it hard to believe that players would alter their playing style to get a higher number of tricks to TRAM - at least it would be rare. Most card games are complicated enough without trying to make sure that you TRAM. I suspect that trying to assure a TRAM could be harmful to your score (the best way to try to TRAM is to retain Aces and trump cards early on, which could be counterproductive).

Of course, I am totally speculating.  I am imagining that players will sand bag all of their winning cards for the end just so they can see the TRAM button pop up at Trick #14 or something.  My opinion is that because there is no money on the game, players that want to prove themselves will focus on statistical measurements - win/loss percentage, biggest win score, biggest TRAM, game won in the fewest hands.  Egotistical players will seek out ways to brag.

Don't get me wrong, I am not against TRAM on WoCG.  Actually, I would like to see it in action; it sounds like an interesting feature.  With an average online game to 500 taking ~1hr to complete, many people would relish the option to reduce time per game.  I would like to see how it was animated.  Does it just go POOF, all the player cards are wiped away and the results are shown?  Or does the program quickly animate the rest of the cards in a hyper-speed playout without any player selection?  Perhaps older players might be startled by the speed of the feature.

I look forward to the development of your feature and this discussion.
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#5
(10-23-2015, 09:31 AM)mickmackusa Wrote:  Don't get me wrong, I am not against TRAM on WoCG.  Actually, I would like to see it in action; it sounds like an interesting feature.

I posted a video to Facebook and Google+. You do not need to be a member of either social network to view the videos. The links are below; the content runs for about a minute.

Unfortunately, the video quality is extremely poor after Facebook processed the uploaded file - not fun! But at least you get the idea. The Google+ video has better quality, so I recommend viewing that one.

Google+ video TRAM in Double Deck Pinochle at World of Card Games

Facebook video TRAM in Double Deck Pinochle at World of Card Games

PS Google "plus-ones" and Facebook "likes" are always appreciated Wink
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#6
I agree with all Mick's points but that's cool that you have implemented it, maria.
To TRAM players would just show their cards and say the rest are mine, everyone would take a look at their cards and grudgingly agree.
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#7
(10-23-2015, 12:08 PM)marya Wrote:  Unfortunately, the video quality is extremely poor after Facebook processed the uploaded file - not fun! But at least you get the idea. The Google+ video has better quality, so I recommend viewing that one.

Google+ video TRAM in Double Deck Pinochle at World of Card Games

Facebook video TRAM in Double Deck Pinochle at World of Card Games

The Google+ link was broken for me. I was able to view the Facebook one despite not having a Facebook account.
The 9-card TRAM certainly saved time.
Marya, do let us know if your players offer you any feedback.
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#8
Hrm.... This Google+ link may work better.
https://plus.google.com/photos/photo/100...7641287314
I tried it in Google Chrome and Firefox, and both worked okay. I don't know what went wrong with the first one.

A couple of players have thanked me for adding TRAM (most notably the person who requested it). Only one player has said that he doesn't like it: he likes to be able to view the last cards being played, since it gives him insight into other players' strategy. I suppose I could have TRAM occur by consensus, but I probably won't change it any time soon. I don't recall any other players complaining about TRAM before this case.
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#9
The more I think about the impact of TRAM on pinochle notation, the more I want to push for the hand history to "look complete".

Instead of having the list of Tricks ending suddenly like:

Code:
..
Trick17 - - - - Seat1 13
...

I think I would rather see an arbitrary play-out of the remaining cards.
For statistical reasons, we may be running queries that seek total number of tricks taken, or average counters per trick, counters from trump Aces, counters from non-trump Aces, etc.
Having this data annotated in a single regular fashion will aid the accuracy and easy of these queries.
This also removes the necessity for the parser to have an additional way of handling the event.

So I suppose I am suggesting annotating a TRAM like:
Code:
Note TRAM
Trick17 AS QD TD QC Seat1 2
Trick18 AS KD KC KC Seat1 4
Trick19 TS JD QS QC Seat1 1
Trick20 TH TD TC TC Seat1 6

Of course, annotating programmers can develop their own arbitrary order for displaying the TRAMed cards, but I might just go through the TRAMer's cards from left to right using PP's standard order/hierarchy: CDSH and ATKQJ(9).

Thoughts?
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#10
Currently at World of Card Games, TRAM is not handled well in Power Pinochle notation (tricks just stop being taken at that point). I should mention that I have not yet made Power Pinochle hand histories publicly available except to a couple of beta users.

In the next few weeks I will make Power Pinochle hand histories publicly available. I can see how players who download might want a note about a trick being taken as part of TRAM. So far as I am concerned, it would not be terribly difficult to just add the "Note TRAM" line and then add "mocked" trick lines in no particular order. That's fine with me.
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