Monday, November 28, 2005

How do you know?

Am I playing bad cards, or am I just running bad?

I wish there were a PokerTracker filter that would let me know the definitive answer. I wish I had a Noted Poker Authority as my chief adviser. I wish there were an optimal amount of money I should have won or lost based on the cards I was dealt, and then I could compare that to reality.

But there's not. All I have are some clues.

So how can I tell how much of this downswing is due to variance, and whether I have previously unknown leaks?

Here are some tests to determine how cold the deck has been:

1) Are my premium pocket pairs (AA and KK) holding up less than usual? In 9,217 hands before this losing streak (sorry about the small sample size -- my current database was only started then), AA won 82 percent of the time, and KK won 67 percent of the time. In 8,683 hands since, AA has won 76 percent of the time, and KK has won 70 percent of the time. So Aces have done a good bit worse, and Kings have been a little better.

2) Am I losing more hands at showdown? Before this downswing, I was winning 55.8 percent of the time at showdown. Since then, I've won 52.1 percent at the end. I'm not sure how significant that 3.7 percentage point turn is, but it certainly costs me money.

3) What hands have been losing? In my case, AJs, QJs, A8s, A6s and A5s have been losers. I think AJs and QJs are probably anomalies, but the others I should probably play less often from middle position.

4) Have I been losing more money than necessary on losing hands, or winning less money than I should with winning hands? This can only be measured by reviewing individual hand histories in PokerTracker, and I think my playing habits are closely in line with historic norms. Fortunately, there's always room for improvement!

I have come to the conclusion that I'm playing well. Even if I could have saved some bets over this time, it would still be a pretty dry run of cards.

Now it's time to recover as quickly as possible. The best way to do that is to get in more hands, play well and stay focused. I think I should play more no limit games because I believe they have less severe swings. I hate to shy away from profitable limit games, but now seems to be the time for bankroll restoration.


PokerSweetHome said...

Hey Mark,

Running bad happens to everybody and so does running well. Just because you are running well doesn't mean that you are playing good poker, and conversly just because you are running bad doesn't mean that you are playing bad poker.
Good to see you are taking a hard look at your results .. that will always make you better.
Get back in there, and as my father likes to say: "This too shall pass".



Never-Limp said...

Hey Mark, just ran across your blog. You've got some good stuff in it! Take a look at those medium suited aces and connectors. Are you opening with them in EP or MP or playing behind a couple of limpers? The former is -EV and the latter is fine. GL.