Friday, October 01, 2004

Lucky in Love

YTD: +$49741.28

I’ve tried playing through the bad patch like last time but it’s hard. Hard because I am playing bad, especially in critical, very large pots. Hard because I am being fucking unlucky. In the space of a couple of hours the other day I lost $8500 in pots, three in total, when I was more than even money to win all three. I was actually about 650 to 1 to lose all three. I seem good at hitting these 500+ longshots :(

Just to show that I post the ugly as well as the beautiful, here is a hand I really chewed up:

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha High, $10 BB (8 handed)

saw flop|saw showdown

MP2 ($2938)

CO ($1104.25)

Button ($1221.75)

SB ($892.50)

BB ($735.50)

UTG ($517)

UTG+1 ($536)

Hero ($2924.25)

Preflop: Hero is MP1 with 9s, 4s, 8h, 7h.

UTG calls $10, 1 fold, Hero raises to $30, MP2 calls $30, 2 folds, SB raises to $140, 1 fold, UTG calls $130, Hero calls $110, MP2 calls $110.

This was a loose gambling raise by me here. If I am thinking str8 I should really pass to the reraise as although the reraiser is marked as AA, the other two guys are likely to have hands that seriously interfere with mine.

Flop: ($570) 9d, Tc, 3c (4 players)

SB bets $567
, UTG calls $377 (All-In), Hero raises to $1134, MP2 raises to $2798, SB calls $185.50 (All-In), Hero calls $1650.25 (All-In).

This is just madness. I'm drawing far to weak here for multi-way action. Although I convinced myself if I could just get out the guy behind me I would be in good shape, the reality is that even then I am probably drawing to 6 ish outs based on the action in front. And if he does call, I am probably drawing next to dead - which was the case.

Turn: ($7281.75) Kh (4 players, 3 all-in)

River: ($7281.75) 7s (4 players, 3 all-in)

Final Pot: $7281.75

Main Pot: $2078, between MP2, SB, UTG and Hero.Pot won by UTG ($2078)

Pot 2: $1126.50, between MP2, SB and Hero.Pot won by MP2 ($1126.50)

Pot 3: $4063.50, between MP2 and Hero.Pot won by MP2 ($4063.50)
Pot 4: $13.75, returned to MP2.

SB has Ks Ac Ah Qc (one pair, aces).

UTG has 8d Js Qd 9h (straight, king high).

Hero has 9s 4s 8h 7h (two pair, nines and sevens).

MP2 has 6c 4h 9c Th (two pair, tens and nines)

Outcome: MP2 wins $5203.75. UTG wins $2078.


Anonymous said...

You seem to know your mistakes already, but:

1) Bad idea to raise this hand in early position
2) I guess you have to call the SB's reraise for pot odds, but this is because you made the mistake of raising to begin with
3) On the flop, you dont worry about the bettor, but you hate the caller, and there are two players behind you, one of whom has deep money. In fact, the only guy that REALLY worries you is MP2, and if he calls, you are in deep shit.

I guess if you feel like gambling, you can play, and raising on the flop is better than calling. But I would have thrown it away on the flop.

- Roswell

chaos said...

Well done Dave. Well done for posting a crap play (not that I’d know). I nearly asked you to do something like this a couple of weeks ago. I thought you were brave to post your YTD and wondered if you would be even braver: you have been. Players don't post the outrageous (I know enough about omaha to know this isn't outrageous!): what's the point? People will either criticise the play or will tell you what you already know. Still the plays occur; in fact they recur.

The problem is that given your value system at the time this wasn't a poor play by you. Utility theory doesn't say that you are wrong to take on -ve equity it just tries to work out what to do given your propensity to risk. However, this attitude changes, as Kahneman and Tversky concluded, based on the context of the decision and the decision-maker isn’t necessarily acting irrational for this to occur. At this moment in time you were, for example, willing to get 1-2 your money for an even money shot, such was your desire to win. Who is to judge that this desire is wrong? Philosophically you can't, but we all know you will be poorer because of it. Another way of looking at it is your emotional mind interfered too much with your rational mind. The question that arises out f these situations is:

How do I stop my emotional mind (which doesn’t know how to play the hand) interfering with my rational mind (which clearly does)?

Alternatively, how do I maintain a neutral(ish) aversion to risk under pressure?

Dave, showing your ‘warts and all’ will make you appear more fallible, something few of us poker players are willing to do, but you will far be better for it.

Perhaps by posting your ‘worst play of the week’ you will influence your emotions into allowing you to play better. Quite clearly, it seems from your comments, knowing that you had to post your results every week made you play better. After all, it would be embarrassing to claim to be an internet pro and be down on the year! We all know it can happen, but it would nevertheless be tough. Consequently I feel (I’m only inferring how I would feel in your situation) the fear of public failure has kept those other emotions in check: the ones encouraging you to take on poor gambles, just because you are temporarily out of form. Perhaps that emotional dampener is wearing thin; you’ve already proven that you are a winning player who has achieved a great deal playing only part time. Or perhaps your emotions were trying to silence the voices that might think you were lucky to have gotten this far. Even if neither is true you appear to have tilted towards a risk-taking attitude.

Anyway maybe you now require something else, at least for the time being, to answer the above two questions. Perhaps the YTD isn’t enough, maybe the embarrassment of showing your worst play of the week would check the bad play – ‘I’m gonna have to post this hand? Or even something worse!’ The downside is that we do need to play bad hands to make other hands pay and of course a bad hand often needs context.

Once again I hope you trust I’m not being critical here. My comments maybe entirely inappropriate and off the mark: you maybe properly motivated and playing well, you may just feel that you’re not.

Good luck.

regards chaos

Big Dave D said...

Thanks again for another thoughtful post, Chaos. I think its a strange thing, perhaps unique to gamblers, that as their money situation worsens, their aversion to risk very much gets lesser. I'm sure that 'normal' people are completely the opposite.

Interestingly, I am already doing a kind of internal worst hand of the week. After every session I review all pots over $1k and take a view as to whether my money went in correctly. Since I've started doing this my results have improved somewhat, and 70% of my big pots were correct decision-wise.

So perhaps I will follow up on your suggestion and keep a worst hand and a best one for "show and tell".

Thanks again for the kind words



Anonymous said...


I've had great respect for your PLO analysis and the fact that you had the balls to publish this hand only makes me respect you more. Too many of the 'experts' only post hands which let us all see how brilliant they are (had to give Rolf Slotboom a mention !). For me, the most important thing to be learned from this hand is that it shows that you have no ego to massage. And as we all know, ego equates to -EV.
Keep up the great posts.


chaos said...

Hi Dave,

On reflection I'm not sure that my suggestion was such a great idea. It's a treatment when perhaps it is a cure that us poker players search for. All I've suggested is more of the same, only a stronger dose. Eventually, one suspects, its impact would wear thin, that is, if the same is true of posting your results. It terms of decision-making using the electric shock treatment hardly seems the most constructive approrach: we shouldn't be driven to do the right thing out of fear. It should be about developing a process through which you learn and that is something you appear to have well in hand.

The more I'm aware of my emotions and how they drive my decisions the scarier my game looks, particularly on the net where there is less time for our rational brain to kick in. So much of the poker education is technical, when, for me, the most crucial lesson is understanding yourself.

I'm not sure if the suggestion was bad or not, it isn't a perfect solution for sure, but I think it would help, at least for a while. I wish I was that brave!

I hope your luck is improving.


Big Dave D said...

Electric shock therepy can be effective :-)



Pinkfloydfan said...


Once again an insightful reminds me of Simon Trumper's article in Poker Europa earlier this year (although obviously you are not running as bad as he was) which made a lot of people sit up and think more rationally about the monetary and emotional costs of playing poker for a living.

Interesting point you make about the level of risk increasing as we lose more. If I think cold-heartedly about it, then in my own play I think that there is a reasonably normal distribution of the level of risk I am willing to take depending upon how good/bad I am running: i.e. supposing I allocate £xx to play with then if I get to say the bottom 20% of that stack I become significantly more risk-loving; and, if I have say doubled my stack the same is true.

Your blog's greatest impact on me at least is to recognise these personality traits and try to control them more. As an aside, if I have an extended poor playing period I re-read Herbert O. Yardley's "Education of a Poker Player" as the rock-like advice in there tends to take me off-tilt...and it's a lot cheaper than paying for a psychiatrist!

Anonymous said...

That is an ugly ugly hand, and one that qualifies for that rare prize of "misplayed at every decision node."

Big Dave D said...


I agree, which is why I posted it. However I would say, that in that particular game, the first raise preflop isnt too bad. For example, look at what the player behind me called with! Whether you beat a loose game by being even looser is another story tho.



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