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By: MrWishyWashy, Matthew Zaabadick
Feb 17 2015 1:00pm
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Once upon a time, I was strictly a constructed Magic Online player. When I first started to play Magic Online, I went straight into just playing Standard. I did a lot of reading before I got into Magic Online and the one thing that was said to be avoided like a plague was limited. Magic grinders usually will tell you that the best way to go infinite is to avoid limited. I thought for a long time that this was the right way to do things. I believed that until recently, when I started to play more limited online. This may be a format dependent thing but I think that going infinite in limited is very possible. I had a buddy of mine do the same thing with THS block and ended up making about 400-500 tix from grinding out as many games as possible within a months’ worth of time.

I stopped playing limited in real life and I stopped playing constructed online. I really did not like grinding away at MTGO anymore and didn't want to commit as much time in it as I used to. I had a modern deck too but when Treasure Cruise came out, I sold it off since the format got really boring. I had a ton of Phantom points that MTGO gave me and grinded the hell out of holiday cube. I had some time on my hands and really enjoyed the format, so this gave me some chances to figure out how to get better at limited.

Getting good at limited is very difficult at first. With constructed, it's easy to netdeck some premier level winning deck, learn how to get good at that deck, and crush the competition. Limited is all about card evaluating. Some if it is also trial and error. Limited formats I have played more than I should have (as in like 100+) include triple Journey into Nyx, Holiday Cube, Legacy Cube, triple Khans of Tarkir, and triple Fate Reforged. I can say with confidence that I have not lost any tickets while grinding out these formats. Not only did I make tickets, but I got tons of QPs which have led to lots of promos and qualifications to better tournaments.

The thing that sucks about attempting to go limited from a beginner's perspective, is that there is not a lot of information about the subject. I checked out at podcast from Limited Resources here. No disrespect to Limited Resources, but it was a crappy in terms of usefulness. Most of this podcast was common sense, things like "don't buy packs from the store" just aren't that helpful. I was hoping to figure out what were the best strategies to drafting in limited or how to evaluate cards better, but there was none of that to be found. I searched far and wide for some good MTGO limited grinding info, which there is really next to none.

That is why I am writing this article to help those who are trying to be infinite on limited. Its very possible and it's very easy to do once you have a grasp of how limited games go. Limited is a lot different than constructed in terms of power level and at times the context of certain cards varies from format to format. There are some formats where you want to main deck cards like Plummet or Naturalize and some where they are unplayable. There are some formats where tempo is a viable strategy and some formats where it's completely unplayable.

Don't always take the rare

Rarity is a trap in limited. Unless you’re drafting for value, don't be conned into always taking the rare. In many sets, there are lots of rares that are barely better than some commons. There are times where I will pass a rare with value for some bomb uncommon that would make it so I would win games that I normally wouldn’t be able to. There are obvious times where you’re going to draft some garbage foil mythic rare since it basically says "another free draft entry", but there are times where certain cards that aren’t worth anything read the same way. MTG in the year 2015 has plenty of cards that are win buttons in limited. Ignoring the rarity symbol to figure that out is pretty important if you’re trying to maximize value. For example, a card like Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is just an average card. Most of the time it’s a 3/2 first striker. This may take a few limited games to realize this and sometimes this may be due to the context of a format, but after a while you will realize that some rares are just as good as or worse than certain commons. A card like Pyrotechnics is a Mythic in disguise.

Always money draft

If your main goal of drafting is to get positive EV, then you want to always pick up as much value as possible. Like I said above, you want to money draft when it's possible. For example, if I am given the choice of two cards, one being a fetch land valued at 3-4 tickets, or Mastery of the Unseen, which while it's not worth anything, it will probably win me a majority of the games drawing it, leading me to more value than that one fetch land. If my draft looks like a train wreck, I will hope to get lucky in round 1 and money draft. I will play with crappy cards if it means that I can get some reasonable value as well. There are times where it works favorably, especially in Fate Reforged. Cards like Valorous Stance and Wild Slash are almost worth a ticket and pretty strong cards. It's pretty easy to pick up some decent cards valued at 3-4 tix, get out of the first round in a 4-3-2-2 and break even or get a little ahead with this strategy.

Know the context of a card in a format

This is a pretty interesting idea here that takes a bit of trial and error to figure out. It’s easy to randomly draft good cards and hope to win, but things don’t always work out that way. Your idea of what might be good may not be good for that format. Here is another example out of Fate Reforged. In Fate Reforged, one toughness creatures are bad. Creatures like Mardu Scout and Gore Swine sound like strong cards, but when you see a format filled with Jeskai Sage and Sultai Emissary, they seem a lot less appealing. It’s easy to see now how you can easily dominate draft after draft knowing these things. When your cards always match up better against your opponents, it’s going to take a lot of luck for the opponent to beat you. This means that without bombs and mulligans to oblivion, no matter how mediocre your draft is, as long as you’re drafting the best within the context of the format, you’re going to win a majority of the time.

Know the best ways of getting card and tempo advantage

Seems like a common sense thing and similar to the last thing, but in a way it's not. Every limited format is different, but in a majority of magic formats, the two things that are key are card advantage and tempo. Some formats card advantage may be too slow due to tempo being stronger, but then there are formats where tempo is completely unplayable. Looking at Khans of Tarkir for example, it’s a format where you can have some viable tempo strategies (Jeskai), some viable card advantage ones (Sultai, Abzan, and Mardu), while the rest you want to stay the hell away from (Temur). This is not to say that certain strategies are completely unplayable, since a Temur deck with all the best Temur cards will still probably beat the worst Abzan deck, but when you put two average decks head to head, one deck will always beat the other a majority of the time. Limited formats do not involve tons of card advantage/selection and are more about the battlefield. Being able to gain an edge in the slightest way possible is a key to mastering a format.

The BREAD strategy is still a viable one

Bread is an old limited strategy that sometimes isn’t always relevant today. I think that it still makes sense to this day and is a good way to view drafting. Bread stands for B-Bombs, R-Removal, E-Efficient Spells/Creatures, A-Aggressive Creatures, D-Don’t play this since its terrible. This may have changed over the years since removal has gotten worse with each new limited format, while creatures have gotten better and better. I’d still keep this formula in the back of my head since it’s a good guideline to drafting. A lot of modern limited MTG involves building more cohesive synergistic decks than in the past, so the BREAD formula has lost a lot of its meaning, but it's still meaningful since it’s important when trying to figure out how to prioritize quality cards for your deck.

Build a good curve and a reasonable deck

Sounds like more common sense, but I believe this is another reasonable tip. A deck lacking some early drops but has a bunch of powerful cards may have a tough time in certain games. Even though some 2 and 3 drops are terrible and may not match up well against certain decks, they are sometimes an necessary evil. Your deck needs to be able to get on board in limited in a reasonable fashion since if not, you will get out tempoed and die fairly quickly. Card advantage is important as well as playing nothing but quality cards, but at the same time, a good deck needs to be able to defend early on so they can cast their best spells at a certain point. As mentioned earlier, cards like Mardu Scout and Gore Swine are not very good cards in KTK/FRF limited, however, if your deck has some better spells such as Outpost Siege that will take over a game by itself, make sure you get some of that junk into your deck for your curves sake. You may lose out against a few 2 for 1s or take a moderate amount of damage, but at some point, you can take over the game with your better spells.

In Conclusion

Going infinite on MTGO for drafting is a very real thing. I am honestly not terribly sure about sealed, since I played plenty of sealed in real life and I just can’t stand it, but maybe there is a way of going infinite there as well. I just know that if you make good decisions and you play a reasonable amount of limited, that you can be infinite on it. Limited does become very fun, maybe even better than constructed since you can have many games that all play out a different way. Limited is also a good way of building up a collection. I have tons of bulk rares and commons that I didn’t pay for due to being limited.

If you just keep limited fundamentals in mind, you should have no problem succeeding at limited. Knowing how to read board states and knowing how creature combat works is pretty important. Learn how to read signals and try to stay in colors that will give you the best chances at winning. If you do all of this, I can see anyone racking in the tickets, QPs and bulk in no time.

49 Comments

Pick Lists by Zbrt at Tue, 02/17/2015 - 14:08
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What do you think of pick order lists like the ones that came out from CFB's Martell and Karsten this week?

I havent really loved CFB's by MrWishyWashy at Tue, 02/17/2015 - 21:24
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I havent really loved CFB's pick evaluations since Born of the Gods. No disrespect to them, but I could probably not even have to play the format and come to the same conclusions. There not bad, but probably not the best either.

If all you got out of Limited by MarcosPMA at Tue, 02/17/2015 - 18:52
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If all you got out of Limited Resources is things like "don't buy packs from the store" then I don't think you tried very hard. I've been listening to Limited Resources for 2 years now and there is so much more to it than just that. In fact, a lot of what you said here is exactly what they say. They talk about tempo, card advantage, building a curve, knowing how to get the best EV out of a draft, what the best strategy is, how to look at a card within the context of the format, etc.

The reason there isn't a lot of information about going infinite in Limited is because you have to be extremely good at Limited in order to even have a chance. There's no other way around that. You can't easy mode it like Constructed and netdeck the best deck and have a reasonable shot even if your play skill isn't up to par yet. Limited magic doesn't allow that unless you consistently open bomb rares/mythics. Even then you can still lose with bombs in your deck. It's also lower EV to try to go infinite in Limited as opposed to Constructed because the winnings are far less in Limited: (+8 packs, - 3 packs 2 tix as opposed to +11 packs, - 6 tix).

Yes limited resources knows by MrWishyWashy at Tue, 02/17/2015 - 23:14
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Yes limited resources knows lots of things, but that particular podcast was very poor. There was nothing to really gain out of it unless your a total MODO noob. Thats great that I can buy packs from bots over the MTGO store, but if im getting bounced out of the first round every time, then what good does that do?

And yes, the EV is less for limited, but its a lot less time consuming and doesnt require any initial investment outside of the 3 boosters and 2x your playing with. Time and start up resources are worth more than EV sometimes. One of the things that made me quit constructed was how I had to sit in an event for 4 hours. The wait times in dailies are painfully slow. I like how in limited I can fire up que after que or multiple ques on demand. I like when I can actually win an event that only takes me 1-2 hours instead of spending 1/6th of my day trying to grind out a messly 9-12 tix if im lucky.

What were you expecting? by MarcosPMA at Wed, 02/18/2015 - 01:12
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What were you expecting? Some secret magical formula that would instantly let you go infinite? If there was a way to go infinite outside of being extremely good at limited + playing high EV events then it would have been discovered already. Maybe it wasn't explicitly said, but that's how Brian went infinite.

If you wanted to learn how to evaluate cards and/or the best draft strategies, that particular podcast was not for you because it wasn't about that. The topic wasn't about the current draft format or card evaluation, it was Brian talking about what he does on Magic Online. Most of every other podcast is about getting better and talking about cards as the weeks go on and other topics like card advantage, tempo, card evaluation, etc.

Besides, I don't see why you needed to call them out. It did nothing other than try to promote you as a better source of information compared to them (at least that's what it felt like).

You need more than 3 boosters and 2 tickets as your initial investment. Unless you're Michael Jacob, you're not going to win your first event and parlay that into an infinite bankroll. Even if you 4-3-2-2 and win round 1 but lose round 2, you're still down 1 pack + 2 tix. You can't always guarantee getting 4-5 tix of value out of the draft

I agree that the wait times in dailies suck, but there's nothing we can do about that. Maybe when we "eventually" get leagues it'll be better.

I found it impossible to go by mihahitlor at Tue, 02/17/2015 - 19:57
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I found it impossible to go infinite playing drafts despite consistently having limited rating in the range of 1800-1900 and taking money cards aggressively. I played in hundreds of drafts over the years, and lost hundreds of tickets. There have been times when I would win a lot, for example, I've so far netted more than 100 tix playing 3xFRF release drafts (over more than 50 drafts judging by the promo cards), but that is mostly just variance. You can have relatively long stretches of winning a lot and opening valuable cards. Human brains is very bad at seeing a larger picture and coping with variance, and running bad/good can easily make you misjudge your actual EV.

I think I lose approximately 1-2 tix on average on drafts despite raredrafting and being better than most players (judging by my rating), and would say it's pretty much impossible to go infinite *unless* you have crazy good limited rating. Prize structure is just bad in limited.

I even remember LSV saying or writing that he cant go infinite drafting.

Have you tried 4-3-2-2's? I by MrWishyWashy at Tue, 02/17/2015 - 23:17
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Have you tried 4-3-2-2's? I should have mentioned that its always best to draft a 4-3-2-2 over an 8-4 since its not terribly difficult to get out of the 1st round all the time. As long as you can win round 1, then as long as your drafting about 4-5 tix worth of cards, its not that hard to get ahead each time. I dont think a draft rating is very meaningful either since one loss kicks you down way harder than getting a single win. If you have a pattern to where you can get out of the first round and keep losing in the 2nd round in an 8-4, your going to get behind very easily. If you have the same thing happen to you in a 4-3-2-2. your chances of getting ahead are more likely.

Its true that theres variance in limited but theres lots of variance in constructed too. I played constructed for quite some time and really dont think that its terribly far off, especially for Standard and Modern since neither format has amazing card selection or ways of evening out variance. In limited there are at least patterns of what people are constantly taking that you can draft against. There is some advantage that you can gain in limited, while in constructed, once a format is established, theres no real edge you can gain.

I never actually played 8-4, by mihahitlor at Wed, 02/18/2015 - 07:46
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I never actually played 8-4, I mostly play swiss (except when the new set is released, then I play 4-3-2-2 release events) where I tend to win approximately 2 packs per tournament. In most draft environments the EV of cards you get is not nearly close to being worth 4,5 - 6 tix, which you need to break even if your win % is 66%. And for most players it won't be 66%.

As far as winning round 1 in 4-3-2-2, you definitely can't just count on that. You probably have around 60-70% chance of advancing to R2 if you're a good player.

The variance is of course present in constructed events as well. But the EV of dailies for the same winrate is uncomparable to drafts. Even if you win only 50% of matches you will make money in dailies (if you can sell the boosters for more than 2.75 tix), which is far from the truth for drafts.

Also, are you suggesting that there are greater winrates in limited than in constructed? I thought it was the opposite, that good players will more consistently win in constructed.

Also#2, it's not always better to draft 4-3-2-2 than 8-4. Unless your win percentage is low, you will on average lose less playing 8-4 (but variance will be much higher). When calculating EV of an event, you can't just go by intuition and assume you will win round 1, open 6 tix worth of cards etc. You have to input your win% and EV of the boosters (adjusted accordingly for your raredrafting habits) and that will give you reasonable numbers to work with.

Well playing swiss is by MrWishyWashy at Wed, 02/18/2015 - 20:58
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Well playing swiss is probably your problem. Not only is EV non-existant there, but money drafting is as well. Everyone money drafts in swiss due to the lack of EV, so you cant do it very efficiently there. 4-3-2-2's are the best of both worlds since you can money draft, have easier competition and have a bit of security when you dr aft.

You can easily get a win percentage higher than 70% in limited. Theres patterns of how people draft on MTGO. After you play a decent amount of times, its easy to see how certain cards are being over and underdrafted.

Unless your drafting a set thats worth like 30 tickets, on average, its pretty easy to money draft 2-3 tix worth of cards. Its not hard to pick up some Stoke the Flames, Banishing Light, Bile blight type of cards a large majority of the time since they arent always going to go 1st or even 2nd-4th. Overtime it balances itself out since your going to get lucky and hit some reasonable mythic or good rare that will put you far ahead. If your playing 4-3-2-2's and can average 60-70 percentage in winning, then your going to end up getting 6-7 packs every 2 drafts, which when you add in the rares you got, you will either break even or barely come ahead. The goal at the end of the day is to get to that point. Thats the idea of going infinite. Even if its only 1 ticket your getting, your not spending anything except time, which is the only real drawback, but if your goal was to play some free MTG then its accomplished.

I don't think you understand by mihahitlor at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 05:31
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I don't think you understand what EV means, otherwise you wouldn't say that EV is non-existant in swiss. EV is better in swiss if your winrate is lower than a certain % (around 62-66%, depends on which set you are drafting) and better in 4-3-2-2 if your winrate is higher than that. For me playing swiss is indeed a slightly worse option than playing 4-3-2-2 (strictly money wise), but the difference is minor, and I get to play 3 rounds no matter what. Since I know that with my winrate I am losing money no matter which event I play, I rather spend a fraction of a ticket more and play more time for my money.

You are not getting 6-7 packs per two 4-3-2-2 events with a winrate of 60-70%. You are getting 3.6 - 4.5 packs. It's a basic math and you are just throwing some unrealistic numbers out there.

I don't know what experience you have with playing Swiss vs 4-3-2-2, but I have played reasonable amounts of 4-3-2-2 (due to release events), and I don't think there is any substantial difference neither in skill level nor in cards being passed. In both formats you occassionally get passed some rare that is worth 1-4 tix (usually some rare land), but that is it. Maybe I'm wrong, because I haven't really paid attention to that aspect until now.

There are some situations where certain uncommons are worth a lot, and that can influence EV of the draft (though that can also reflect in the price of the boosters, so the EV might actually be lower because of that), but they are rare. FRF has Wild Slash and Valorous Stance that you can currently sell for around a tix, KTK has nothing, whole RTR block had nothing, Innistrad had nothing, SOM had nothing until NPH, same is true for Zendikar and ROE etc. Majority of time, when you draft a current set, uncommons and commons will be worth nothing, except just at the beginning and sometimes when the set stops being heavily drafted. But there are exceptions as you point out. You have to calculate the number of times you will open those high-price uncommons (and add an assumption of the times they will get passed to you) though, to get a realistic figure of what money you can expect from them.

As for "easily having win percentage higher than 70% in limited", I disagree. Maybe it's easy for you, but it's a very high percentage that only a small fraction of players can achieve.

oh oh, seeing your data and by Bartimäus at Wed, 02/18/2015 - 06:35
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oh oh, seeing your data and comparing it to mine it seems financial justification is way down more unreliable then I thought before; tx, for sharing

It's certainly possible to go by TugaChampion at Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:07
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It's certainly possible to go infinite in limited, but it's not easy. The one draft format I was able to go infinite was Mirrodin Besieged/Scars of Mirrodin/Scars of Mirrodin.

In Mirrodin Besieged, the infect creatures were bigger and costed more and there was one less pack with Plague Stingers. Most people thought infect was now bad. I had drafted the format a few times avoiding infect but one draft I was getting cut and I was seeing infect cards flowing so I just started taking those. Almost every infect creature was getting back to me and I ended up with very good deck because this continued to happen in packs 2 and 3. I easily won the draft and in the next one I was still excited about infect so I went in trying to draft it unless I saw something really good in another direction. I drafted another very good infect deck. After a few more drafts I noticed that infect cards were always getting passed (there were a few exceptions for infect creatures that were good on their own). I started to force infect every draft and it would take something really good (like Hero of Bladehold) to not move to infect. And this was playing 8-4s.

So the best way to go infinite in a draft format, is knowing really well the format, usually knowing something most other people don't know. Eventually people caught on and infect was not underdrafted anymore and I left the format.

There were a couple other formats I was able to break even or have a small profit but never like this. In release sealed, I profitted in many formats. Zendikar releases were my best ones I think but Scard of Mirrodin and Fate Reforged just now were also good (I'm probably forgetting a few). But part of the reason is that these events have better EV than usual limited events.

I think you downplay the difficulty of going infinite but it's obviously possible and formats like triple Fate Reforged are usually good because most pros don't really touch them and there isn't much info so if you find out something, you're probably ahead of 90%+ of the field.

Depends on what you define as by MrWishyWashy at Wed, 02/18/2015 - 20:44
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Depends on what you define as "difficult". Im sitting on my ass clicking buttons all day, is that really difficult haha? I think its only really difficult if you dont understand the fundamentals of MTG or the fundamentals of TCGS very well. Its not really rocket science that we are figuring out here.

A lot of figuring out these formats is just trial and error. After half a dozen or so drafts, you can pick up on the patterns of how people are drafting on MTGO and draft against them accordingly. This enables you to get a higher winning percentage than usual since it becomes very predictable of what type of decks people will be on. A buddy of mine did very well at 3x THS since all he did was draft GB control since everyone was trying to be aggressive. When everyone would draft Wx heroic, it would work most of the time.

Even if EV isnt super high, the idea is to go infinite. The idea here is to never pay for drafts. It doesnt matter if your making 5 tickets in a day or 50, the whole point is to play for free. Its pretty easy to be able to do that if your a very strong player. If your not that great of a player, then yeah going infinite is not possible.

When I say it's difficult by TugaChampion at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 15:07
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When I say it's difficult it's because not everyone can do it. In constructed I'm not gonna say everyone can go infinite if they try but most people could. In drafts, depending on the average value of an opened pack, a 60% winning percentage is usually not enough to go infinite. If less than 40% of the people can do it, it's obviously not easy. The format is also relevant. If you master a format or know someone other people don't you have a big advantage but there are also some formats where variance is bigger and those you can't really do much. But I guess part of the skill is choosing the correct format.

In my opinion, your biggest mistake is saying it's easy, because it is not. Even if you are really good at it, you have to consider that this is something less than 50% of the players can do.

I think you are mistaken by Paul Leicht at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 20:34
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I think you are mistaken here. "Most" is a lot of people. Some could go infinite in Constructed play. Many have. But MANY have not. And that reason is because they can't. Because they don't know how. That isn't most.

I think giving this guy the benefit of the doubt on his first article is really important because while his information might not be 100% he put work and passion into it. We need good writers who want to write in the game. I've seen articles far less worthy of a 1 fireball than this. Why not just lay off eh? Enough already.

I'm not saying is article is by TugaChampion at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 06:54
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I'm not saying is article is bad. I'm just pointing this out.

And just to be clear, when I that most people could go infinite in constructed they could, I'm not saying most people actually go infinite. It's more like if they tried to, if they wanted to spend the time doing so, if they informed themselves, most could do it. In limited it's not that simply.

Don't think so by IYankemDDS at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 10:14
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I just don't think that is correct. I think a lot of people try, and give up after they repeatedly get smashed in DEs. Everyone is trying to do this so you're going to this, and not everyone can. The math just doesn't add up.

Questionable content by jimmy at Wed, 02/18/2015 - 22:55
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1

I appreciate the effort you have made here and greatly respect earnest content creation, but you are spreading bad advice and setting unrealistic expectations with this article. It is much harder to go infinite at limited than you imply, and you instantly discredit your opinions on the subject by suggesting that it is "always best to draft a 4-3-2-2 over an 8-4 since its not terribly difficult to get out of the 1st round all the time."

The 4322 queue is never the correct prize-EV choice for anyone when Swiss and 84 are also available. The cost of a full pack of prize support is simply too high to overcome through win-rate differences. On top of that, if you are not good enough for 84 to be the correct queue choice over Swiss for pack EV, you are certainly not good enough to go infinite via drafting.

Also, if you found that episode of LR lacking in drafting strategy and card-evaluation techniques, you should listen to some of the other 270 episodes, which are chock-full of it. Given your beliefs about BREAD, 4322s, and when to money draft, you are someone who would benefit from checking out the Limited Resources back catalog.

The competition is easier in by MrWishyWashy at Wed, 02/18/2015 - 23:50
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The competition is easier in a 4-3-2-2, so yes by nature its easier to get out of the 1st round than any 8-4. Playing in an 4-3-2-2 over an 8-4 has nothing to do with how good that you are. Your just playing the odds better by making sure that your always going to get packs every time you enter a que. Its a lot easier to get out of the 1st round than it is to get to the finals every single time, especially when the quality of players is also lower.

And what is the reason behind playing in a Swiss ques? Swiss ques are just plain awful unless there is something that I am misunderstanding about them. As I mentioned to someone else, you cant money draft really in swiss. Everyone is money drafting since there is no EV that can be gained by winning the event. You will get passed more money cards in 8-4s and 4-3-2-2s, but never in swiss since everyone is trying to cover their expenses. The fact that you cant even get your money back by winning a Swiss que makes it terrible EV. If your goal is to play some MTG and not spend a terrible amount, yes its fine, but if you dont want to spend any money, its not what you want to ever do.

Maybe I am just making it look easy, but if your not a very skilled at limited, then yes its "difficult". If you have stronger understanding of limited, then its definitely not difficult. People tend to think limited is harder but its only harder than constructed since with constructed you can just netdeck a good deck and have it win by its powerful nature. In limited, it takes a little work to make a powerful strategy. I cant really say that its "difficult", its more like something you just have to learn overtime.

Start here by jimmy at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 01:11
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Check out this blog post to better understand the underlying math that's working against you: https://josephbono.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/the-win-rate-fallacy-and-4-3...

There's also this article from Pure on rare drafting: http://puremtgo.com/articles/ev-raredrafting-and-you

You are making claims about EV that you aren't supporting with any math. It's not really useful to say, "If you are not skilled it's difficult but if you have a strong understanding it's not." What win percentage does a player need in which queues of which formats to go infinite? You haven't presented any math to answer that question, you've only suggested that it's possible if you are good.

Here's a great tool that does the math for you with the variables and win rates you want to apply, including looking at the value of the cards in the boosters:

http://www.magicev.com/

That's a realistic, math-based look at what it takes to come out ahead in a given format and queue, and it shows how hard it is. You need a 76-77% win rate to come out ahead in KTK 4322s while only 62% in 84s, but you are suggesting here that 4322s are the way to go.

Yeah I dont agree with any of by MrWishyWashy at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 01:39
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Yeah I dont agree with any of that. Both MagicEV and those articles fail to realize one thing, and that is those uncommons that are worth 1-3 tix. That is why I call it "money drafting" and not "rare drafting", since you have uncommons worth more than mythics. Also none of those articles mention how money is not passed very often in Swiss. This is why 4-3-2-2 is the sweet spot since you can draft value and be able to win value.

I went from 30 tickets to 110 tix last week from grinding out 3x Fate Reforged 4-3-2-2 ques. I dont think the 2 cents from any of these articles really means much to me. I dont like using numbers to explain MTG since they dont always tell the full story.

Actually... by jimmy at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 02:27
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The EV calculator incorporates the value of all the cards in a booster. As it says: "Takes into account difference between buy and sell prices. Rare & Mythic prices are from SuperNovaBots, 'money' Common & Uncommon prices are hand tabulated."

Regardless, even if uncommons *weren't* being tabulated by the EV calculator, incorporating such data would do nothing to increase the EV in 4322s without increasing it for Swiss and 84s as well. There is simply nothing in the math to support your claim that 4322s should be played over 84s and Swiss.

But hey, when the math doesn't fit your narrative, dismiss it out of hand, and present statistically-insignificant anecdotal evidence that *does* support your narrative! A time-honored response to pesky, unwanted statistics. Much easier than either disproving it with math of your own, or acknowledging that your gut might be in error.

In any case, while these math-supported resources may not be able to penetrate your willful ignorance on this subject, they now at least accompany your article as a warning for rational thinkers who might otherwise make the mistake of taking your queue advice at face value.

You are saying that nothing by Lagrange at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 18:07
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You are saying that nothing in the math supports 4322 over 84 or swiss. But that is based on your non-stated assumptions. If my win percentages is 1% in swiss and 84 but it is 100% when playing 4322 then 4322 is the dominat option. It is easy to reach a certain conclusion when you get to pick the assumptions.

Draft EV is determined by the self-selection of players into the queues. Following your logic it would be natural to say that no one should ever play 4322. However, the queues still fire. So then it would be natural to assume that only dumb players enter the 4322 drafts. Since you are a smart player then clearly you have an advantage in the queue with all the dumb players.

All the arguments saying that 4322 is strictly dominated assumes that you will meet better players in the 4322 queue than in the swiss queue. But that is a self-contradiction since good players would know not to join the 4322 using the same argument.

No one should! by IYankemDDS at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 18:48
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No one SHOULD play 4322, but people do. If no one ever played them, hopefully the payout would change to 5322. If they were 5322, they would be totally fine.

Has nothing to do with smart or dumb. Some people just don't care about the value. That has zero to do with intelligence, play skill, or anything else.

You will find good and bad and in between players in 8-4, 4322, or Swiss. People play what they want to play for all sorts of reasons.

Rather they care about their by Paul Leicht at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 20:08
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Rather they care about their time more than the monetary return value.

There are plenty of people by Misterpid at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 21:44
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There are plenty of people who choose between swiss and 4322 based solely on which one will start soonest.

Aye. by Elbinac at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 23:58
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When I was doing drafts I'd frequently go for whichever was about to fire to make the best use of my available time.
Since I'd spent an about equal amount of time playing both swiss and 4322..
I feel pretty comfortable stating that while the math strongly indicates the higher overall payout events to be superior for 84 and swiss that is for the group thinking collectively as a whole.
4322 is more appropriate for selfish impatient bastards like myself.

To elaborate, the key factor is the overall quality of your draft vs the overall quality of your opponents drafts.
If I had a strong draft of cards, chances were good I'd see the final round.
If my draft was poor I'd be lucky to make it out of the first round.

If we ignore the shared possibility of not winning anything.
My expected payout for each event based on personal ability and self interest would have been something like:
8-4: 0 packs. Eliminated second round nearly every time.
Swiss: 2.5 packs. Usually made "finals", but only won them half the time.
4322: 3 packs. I either made 2 packs for 1 round or I made the finals and again won those about half the time.

8-4 and 4322 have about the same time commitment overall. You can generally tell if your pool is strong enough or not after the first round to know if you need to commit to playing through to the finals and can skip out to play another event if your odds aren't good.
Swiss requires you to play out each and every round even on a bad card pool for the possibility of 3 packs.
In terms of wins, two match wins in a row followed by a loss would net you 4, 3 or 2 packs.
And one win followed by "two losses" (counting the rounds you didn't get to play in at all for 84 and 4322) would net you 0, 1, or 2 packs.
If your most probably outcomes are 4 or 0, 3 or 2, 2 or 1 you logically would pick the one with the higher average.
Relegating the scrub outs and the event champion outcomes as outliers caused by random card pool and shuffler occurrences.

Obviously a good or bad player could dismiss this reasoning entirely as good players should play 8-4 and bad players should play Swiss to increase their overall payouts per event.

But, for selfish middle of the ground players, 4322 serves as an acceptable average with minimal time obligation.
I.e. it is Swiss for the impatient.

Not that I'm commenting on this article directly to advocate or dismiss.
Just my personal experience with drafting.
I relied heavily on the format having an overall high EV as a set.
I just wish I'd held on to all those foil Karn Liberated for when Tron took off as a deck in Modern. xD
Hindsight and all that.

So you are saying that no one by Lagrange at Sat, 02/21/2015 - 03:44
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So you are saying that no one SHOULD play 4322 but people do it for all sorts of reasons. That is again self-contradicting to me. If people have reasons to play 4322 then they SHOULD play 4322 since it appenrently maximizes their utility.

A good reason to play 4322 over swiss is like the others point out the time issue. Which draft will fire first? Also, All the arguments for playing swiss over 4322 assumes that you can play the same number of 4322 drafts as you can with swiss drafts. But that is clearly not true for a given amount of time.

I also read your argument as saying that skill level and draft queue is independent of each other. But an important assumption in the '4322' propability EV argument saying never to play 4322 is that player skills are ordered as 84 > 4322 > swiss.

In terms of max EV, you by MarcosPMA at Sat, 02/21/2015 - 07:28
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In terms of max EV, you should play 8-4 or Swiss depending on win percentage, but not 4-3-2-2 because at no point should playing a 4-3-2-2 be the correct option. However, just because you shouldn't play it doesn't everybody follows that rule. It's like saying you shouldn't eat junk food. People do it anyway even if they know it's bad for them, but it tastes good and makes them happy.

Saying people shouldn't play 4-3-2-2 while acknowledging that people do isn't self-contradicting, it's just being realistic.

Saying that max EV is by Lagrange at Sat, 02/21/2015 - 08:18
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Saying that max EV is obtained by playing swiss or 84 is a dogma not a law of nature. Whenever you read a 'mathematical proof' that 4322 is inferior it relies on a range of assumptions. You are probably not even aware of the assumptions but be careful not to confuse these 'proofs' for a universal law.

Or please point me to what you believe is the definitive proof that max EV is obtained by playing 84 or swiss. Thx.

Here's how I've always viewed by Misterpid at Sat, 02/21/2015 - 11:16
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Here's how I've always viewed the difference between swiss and 4322.

There are 8 possible outcomes in playing a three round tournament: LLL, LLW, LWL, LWW, WLL, WLW, WWL and WWW. Obviously, in 4322 you don't always get to play all 3 rounds because the tourney ends for you once you lose.

Here are the payouts for each result in each tourney type.

LLL - 0 packs in both
LLW - 1 pack in swiss, 0 in 4322
LWL - 1 pack in swiss, 0 in 4322
LWW - 2 packs in swiss, 0 4322
WLL - 1 packs in swiss, 2 in 4322
WLW - 2 packs in both
WWL - 2 packs in swiss, 3 in 4322
WWW - 3 packs in swiss, 4 in 4322.

There are 2 payouts that are the same for both types (LLL, WLW), three payouts that are higher for swiss (LLW, LWL, LWW) and 2 payouts that are higher for 4322 (WLL, WWL, WWW). The dividing point between the two formats is whether or not you win the first round. If you feel confident about your ability to win in the first round on a consistent basis, 4322 might actually be better for you because getting past the first round means that the worst payout you can get would match the best swiss would pay for finishing with the same result.

Some people may look at the payouts and say that swiss has a payout that is 2 packs higher than 4322 (LWW) while 4322 will only ever win 1 more pack than swiss - and because of that, swiss is the better option. While I can't argue with anyone for thinking that way, that reasoning doesn't factor into which format I choose to play. Mainly because I don't draft much and when I do, I just pick whichever one will start soonest.

Really good article allthough by bdgp009 at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 00:07
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Really good article allthough I was looking for new information. One thing I have learned in my MTGO time though is you can go Infinite with PRE's that our beloved MTGOtrader is sponsoring and writing for PureMTGO. But that is just me and I love writing. If you want to go PRO with MTGO I say constructed is still the way to go infinite.

Thanks and for sure. Theres by MrWishyWashy at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 00:23
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Thanks and for sure. Theres many ways of going infnite on MTGO, I just prefer limited now a days since I dont like keeping up with Standard and dont feel like dumping money into an eternal format deck. I also dont have any plans of ever playing on the Pro Tour or anything of that nature, so to me it does not matter if im playing against LSV or some guy who is playing for the first time. When I get some free time, playing Magic is just a way of having fun and something I do with some friends. While this is also something I do for fun, I dont really want to spend money on it, which is why I took some time to figure out ways around that.

Matthew presented an by JXClaytor at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 01:51
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5

Matthew presented an alternative voice to going infinite that I felt was worth looking at. I see with the amount of discussion that has sprung up over this it was correct!

I don't think you're wrong in by MarcosPMA at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 21:33
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2

I don't think you're wrong in saying that going infinite in Limited is possible, but I do think you're greatly overestimating how easy it is. You need a sizable bankroll to get started since 3 boosters and 2 tickets is not enough. Everybody gets hot and cold streaks, and if you start out your 1st draft with a loss, then you need to make more purchases. As they say: You have to spend money to make money.

You also have to be good. REALLY good. You have to know more than just basic concepts as BREAD and how to read a board state. You have to be able to apply those concepts in different formats and be willing to change your understanding of how Limited works at times (example: Voltron strategies being viable in Theros when they were traditionally unplayable in other formats). You have to draft a lot and know what strategies are viable and what you can draft as the metagame evolves.

All of that isn't easy, at least not right away. It takes practice, dedication and a willingness to play more Limited than most people.

Maybe you're at that stage where you're just generally good at Limited and you can pick up a draft format within a few drafts. Good for you! Seriously, good for you! But not everybody is at that place, so when they read statements like:

"If you just keep limited fundamentals in mind, you should have no problem succeeding at limited. Knowing how to read board states and knowing how creature combat works is pretty important. Learn how to read signals and try to stay in colors that will give you the best chances at winning. If you do all of this, I can see anyone racking in the tickets, QPs and bulk in no time."

it'll sound weird to them because they're probably thinking "aren't I already doing that?"

You said you wanted to know the best drafting strategies and how to better evaluate cards when you listened to LR. If that's what you wanted, and your reasoning to writing this article was to remedy what you didn't find, why didn't you do that here?

Wouldn't a better topic be: "How to go infinite in FRF/KTK Limited"?

There are pure stats to by Bliven731 at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 10:59
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1

There are pure stats to refute your claim, so you just say statistics don't show the whole picture. No point in arguing with someone like that, so I will just say I disagree.

Here's What I Got Out of the Article... by Fred1160 at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 13:10
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This guy wrote the article from the standpoint of, "This is what worked for me. Maybe it'll work for you."
If you disagree with him, that's fine. That still doesn't take away from anything he's accomplished.
He says statistics don't show the whole picture. I agree. I go with the line that was attributed to Mark Twain: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Disagree by IYankemDDS at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 19:56
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I think there are a lot of problems with this article. Sure, you can go infinite with limited, if you're one of the top 1% of limited players on Magic Online. If you were that, you'd be playing at the Pro Tour and Top 8ing GPs. At minimum you'd be playing in the MOCS Championship.

You also make it sound like anyone can just grab a Constructed deck and start making a profit. That simply isn't true, because everyone is trying to do that. If Constructed Dailys only pay out to 3-1s, then the rest (majority) of the Event that have at least two losses are not making tickets, they are losing them. It is a LOT harder than it looks. I've always felt that the difficulty level of DEs is roughly GP Day 1. Pulling off even a 55% win rate, which I believe is break-even territory, is going to be quite hard.

I've listened to the go infinite episode of Limited Resources a number of times and it is quite good. For you to so easily dismiss it is problematic.

I applaud you for taking the time and effort to write up an article. I appreciate your perspective, but some things to think about perhaps...

Just for the balancing by Paul Leicht at Thu, 02/19/2015 - 22:21
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5

Just for the balancing uprating. Try harder. Do more research on how to write this kind of article (Read anything by Godot (Ryan Spain) or Oraymw (Mathew Watkins) for an idea of how to go about it.) But most important of all, take the criticism here with a pound of salt. It isn't that your work is bad all the way but that it needs improvement. So go improve and ignore the hate in favor of the constructive criticisms.

And listen again to LR. Those guys have a good thing going and you could learn a lot from them if not about how to draft, how to address your audience positively and without seeming arrogant or misinformation.

I know where you are coming by jimmy at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 16:01
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I know where you are coming from, and I opened my original comment with genuine respect for the content creation effort, but the article presents demonstrably bad, actively harmful advice.

If the article "did no harm" then I wouldn't have 1-starred it, but if you are going to tout 4322s and advise passing 4-ticket cards to help people go infinite, and then ignore the math and constructive criticism refuting your claims, a full star is a generous rating.

It sounds like JXClaytor is content that this article has garnered views and comments, but that's pretty short-sighted. He *has* to know this advice is bad, yet published it anyway. Perhaps the need for content was that dire, but the article is a disservice to the readers of the site looking for sound advice, not something to feel "correct" about because of clicks/comments.

I would see your point more by Paul Leicht at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 20:09
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I would see your point more if you weren't able to so clearly demonstrate it. IE: The fact that comments inform readers is not irrelevant.

Nice article. I liked it. I by Lagrange at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 07:42
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5

Nice article. I liked it. I have a 1850 limited rating and I am infinite and playing M15 drafts at the moment. I usually play swiss (or 4322) where the competition is not as high as in 8-4.

Looking forward to the next article.

One thing I've come to learn, by IYankemDDS at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 10:16
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One thing I've come to learn, and Ryan said this a long time ago, one of the best things you can do is abandon this notion of "going infinite" and just elicit some value out of having fun. Swiss drafts are great for this. You get to play three rounds no matter what! For this reason I rarely draft anything other than Swiss. Even then, if you can win a match or two most of the time, you are really reducing the cost of your drafts.

Also think that a lot of people that think they are infinite and really slow bleeding, but hard for me to know for sure.

Too true,Infinite to some by CalmLittleBuddy at Sat, 02/21/2015 - 11:49
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Too true,

Infinite to some folks means "I get back what I paid to play". That's living on the edge of infinite. One week of bad beats and you're dropping $$ into the well again, then "Oh look I played for free for two weeks! I'm infinite again!" until the next week of bad beats.

Infinite means you consistently win (or $$ draft or combination of both) back your investment to join the event, plus gain a little on top. Can be .3 of a ticket as long as its consistent over a longer period of time and sets you up to play for free for as long as you like.

There's nothing wrong with going 'finite with very low cost'. I tend to make most of my money back on drafts and constructed. If I come out only losing 1 ticket net, I'm fine. That's 10 events for 10 dollars, plus I get cards I don't sell, some of which, although cheap, are still playable in constructed.

If you want to go infinite in limited, walk before you run. Get to as close to break even as possible and see if the effort is even worth it to you. My 2 cents.

As far as what's the best way, whatever works. If 20 people say method one works while 3 people say method 2 works, method one might be the best place to start. If that doesn't suit, try method two.

No big deal. And as for whether an article does harm, it is incumbent upon the reader to do thorough research. If I were to try to go infinite in limited, I sure as hell wouldn't read one article and say "GO!" I'm going to read everything I can find until my eyes bleed.

Yep by IYankemDDS at Sat, 02/21/2015 - 15:05
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I'm going with this comment as the most sensible thing I've read in any of these comments.

For a while, during m15, I by Joe Fiorini at Sat, 02/21/2015 - 20:50
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For a while, during m15, I would go play three 2 mans, or maybe four if i lost one, take the three packs add two tix and draft them.
I was playing 8 4 drafts, because i was getting to the finals every time for a while. This wasn't going infinite, but I did not pay much if anything at most points. But i was selling my draft picks to get tix.

I'm not the best limited player, but I am pretty ok. And I can tell you that all it took was a string of bad drafts and I ate through all my extra packs. I was back to paying full price for drafts, and I lost my passion for it.

Even way better players than me have had a few bad drafts and lost a lot.

The most important thing to have an infinite supply of is fun.

The slow bleed is what I experience. I tricked myself into thinking that I was going infinite because I wasn't paying for drafta for a while. But I also bought a bunch more tix for some standard staple I wanted. Maybe if I was more patient I could earn enough tickets to get expensive singles, but I'm not.

Anyway, whatever people think about this article And The writer, i commend him for using his creativity and making content for people to read.

It's definitely possible to by hornofammon at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 14:45
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It's definitely possible to go infinite. I played more drafts probably than anyone on MTGO last year, and I didn't put any money in from July onward (and was only buying some tix to do VMA before that).

Since KTK has come out, I've amassed about 2000 tix worth of cards, packs, and tix. All from playing 8-4 and various premier / MOCS / PTQ sealed events. But since I play so much, I probably have a deeper skill level, and have seen just more scenarios, than most casual players can obtain in limited.

To add a bit to your basic by hornofammon at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 15:02
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To add a bit to your basic analysis, here's a few things I've noticed may be important to keep in mind if you're really grinding a lot of limited

*Metagame - Often the format will skew towards one set of colors, clans, or strategies, more than it "should" based on how strong the cards are. This is important to notice, even to the point of watching replays of various seats in your 8-4. For example, in 8-4's, Boros and Orzhov were highly overdrafted in triple GTC, to the point of unprofitability; towards the end of triple KTK, Abzan was overdrafted and Temur criminally underdrafted; and in the present FKK format, I'm feeling that Jeskai is underdrafted so far. Knowing how the meta skews will give you a slight edge in reading signals and figuring out what paths to take.

*Game selection - flashback 8-4 drafts usually have stronger players (like me, I love old sets), except if they're phantom drafts. The older normal set, like THS block right now, will also have relatively stronger players compared to FKK.

*Large sealed events - often are very good EV, better than 8-4's, if only the minimum or slightly above minimum number of players have joined. Plus, the skill level in them is slightly lower than 8-4's, in my opinion. MOCS finals are an exception to that, of course, as the skill level is very high (but so are the payouts).

*Don't play 4-3-2-2, period. And move up from Swiss when you have a win rate ~63% or higher, or whatever the math is. Expect harder streaks of wins and losses though in 8-4.

Good luck!

One of the most commonly used by Francis Winland at Wed, 04/22/2015 - 13:52
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One of the most commonly used in the areas of mathematics, statistics easily. We have almost every day, on average, the information presented in the form of percent, and the rate of change. Statisticians, researchers and analysts working in the field. However, all of this does not stop it from you when attending a tad difficult.
do my statistics homework