Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Growing Pains... doing Better and Worse

I entered a discussion on Facebook about PokerStars here: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=11918&post=73136&uid=24922647584#post73136

Some guy posted who is "sure" there is a boomswitch and doomswitch based on "stack size" that it favors the larger stack. For those who don't know, the term "boomswitch" is a belief by some people that after you win a certain amount, you are then UNABLE to win for a certain amount so the poker sites can get your money. Which is ludicrous, because they make more money the more you play, whether you are winning or not. Not to mention that if it did exist in the software, then players could exploit it, and the whole system would break down and they would lose a TON of players very quickly, and that would cost them WAY more than a "boomswitch" could ever hope to. So it's not logical even if they were unethical. The major sites take great measures to ensure everything is legit and post the proof on their site, which you can access on the main page by clicking at the link at the bottom that says "Integrity" (or click on it here to do directly there)

Back to me and my poor results. Well, let's explain that a little.

I have learned SO Much in the past 6 months, it's incredible. My playing overall is worth patting myself on the back. Instead of just being a good player by "feel" and instinct, I am a good player by theory and odds. I learned why I do what I do, and how often, etc... Stats are a great thing. I learned what my opponent does and why, and this helps you know better in sticky situations what to do. Or it helps I should say. Poker has so many variables and possible combinations, that each situation will be different. But knowing the "engine" inside and out can help you be a better "racer". So on any given situation, I am less likely to make a mistake, and more likely to capitalize on others mistakes. Which is the name of the game!

Let's call this progress 'Winning More Battles'. HOWEVER, as with so many things in life, we need to look at the 'Big Picture'. Let's call this 'Winning the War'.
Based on my results, which I have been tracking with software, close to 30,000 hands now, I am NOT winning the War! How can this be, if my playing is better than it has been in the past? Can both situations be true? YES, they can.

Even though I am playing better in most situations, and winning more hands overall, and having much better results more often... I am not winning the hands where it counts the most, or, I am making the biggest mistakes when there is more on the line.
I may win for 2 hours straight, winning several buyins, showing great progress. But in No Limit Hold'em, you have this ability to lose or gain very quickly. Many opportunities present themselves to "gamble". The infamous "coin-flip" where you and another player (or players) have roughly a 50/50 chance to win a hand, or close to it. Everytime you are in this spot, you must remember, you chose to be in this spot by your actions leading up to this. This is a good reminder that life is like this out of poker. You can also choose NOT to gamble like this. Your progress will be slower, but safer? Think of the tortoise and the hare!

If you play by the numbers, you will have to tolerate the natural variance that occurs. You will have more up and down variance. If this is fun for you, enjoy the ride, it should be entertaining! And stick to those numbers, so that your variance is balanced over time. Even though that might be more exciting in the short run, it seems more boring to me in the long run. However, if you accept this, you can apply the multitabling advantages of as many hands per hour as you are capable of playing profitably, and get where you are going with VOLUME playing.

If you play by "reads", instinct, feel, like a "Jedi", you will pick your battles based on different criteria. Very often, based on the info you know about your opponent. Or think you know! ;) Or what info you let out about yourself to influence your opponent. Or misinformation! Acting, faking, trapping, slowplaying, illusion, etc... I'm sure know what I'm talking about here.

Then there is the pure gambler. Who needs to think about all of the above when you can know just enough to be dangerous and force people into coin flips all the time? Technically, any two cards can win, and if you choose carefully, you can have a good run of luck often enough to get away with it! This will make for HUGE variance and is the least reliable method, but people DO win the lottery. Sometimes. But usually not consistently. And I don't recommend for anyone. Or do I? I would only recommend this for a casual player who can't play often and is approaching throwing a bunch of money away at the poker tables as "fun"... sometimes you will win big and have fun doing so. FUN, that you can afford to pay for, is the only reason I'd recommend this "gambling". But bring your rabbits foot, you are going to need it!

You will have to decide which combination of the above possible ways of playing, and more not listed, that you employ, and find that works for you! There is no ONE way to win at poker. Every situation is different and the best players will be able to play in all of the above manners and come out ahead.

So, there are several ways you can play poker. Several ways you can be a winning player. And as a professional poker player, I need to concentrate on Winning the War! I need to limit those mistakes in Key battles that are costing me performance in the long run. There are SOOOO many poker players out there, that are not winning players over time, because they fail to see and accept this point, and then fail do enough about it!

I will be glad when I fell I have absorbed enough info about poker, that I can stop "thinking" about it, and just play. But for now, I have to take this methodical approach, the safe way, because I cannot afford to throw away a lot of money learning quickly all the things I need to. I long to get it all behind me, and get back to enjoying the "meta" game, which I will post about later.

See you on the felts.
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