Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The Madness of Crowds

YTD: +$47452.03

One of the hardest things to do in Poker is to accept failure.

It is very hard, when you have played the biggest game in town, as it were, to step down to the next level. As the film says, “That’s pride fuckin wit ya.” But the truth is my game is still quite wobbly and results have not improved much. I am still $15k-ish down from my high point. But as the commenter Chaos nicely put it in perspective, considering I only play part-time, I have had a fantastic set of results, even now. I have taken $25k out of that game, in what would only be less than a month’s play to a full-time pro. And yes I am boasting because Christ I need the morale boosting :-)

But I’ve spent the winnings and my virtual bankroll is now kinda thin for this kind of action.

However.

It’s still hard to move down. The 5-10 on Stars is very soft at the moment, as a certain player is hemorrhaging money at an alarming rate. One source said he lost $50k in 24hours, and this is not hard to believe when the average pot is $1-2k.

But the game whilst soft technically is dangerous soft, like quicksand. As the action gets looser so do I, in a mad spiral of ever decreasing edge. The other day I lost a 4k pot to a guy who insists on ram-jamming at any sign of weakness. He plays like The Choirboy on speed and acid :-) Bizarrely he thought he was bluffing but he actually had the best hand, although my draws meant I was 50:50 and 55:45 on the flop and turn respectively.

In theory, this is a great spot to be, taking better than even money on 2:1 shots. But not if I miss. And also this isn’t the way to murder aggressive players; rather in PLO you can wait and catch them drawing thin, instead of tossing a wonky coin.

Another frustration I have noticed is watching the fish win big. I’m grinding away, feeling frustrated, whilst a guy playing 70% of his hands, nearly all of them badly, turns $400 to $7k in an hour. Exasperation and jealousy do not make easy bedfellows.

So I am moving back down to $2-4 PLO (the $3-6 has basically disappeared.) I am worried that the action may burn out of the big game but the truth is that my online BR can’t stomach any more swings at that level.

Back to grinding :-)

“… Fuck pride! Pride only hurts, it never helps.”

27 comments:

chaos said...

Dave,
Stepping down the limits after a bad run is very tough to do. You tend to perceive the other players as viewing you as failure, you're not good enough. Of course it's not true and very few have players never suffer such ignominy. I think its good starting from a low bank roll again, it frees you up and gives you targets and is worth more to you when you win. After all what is the utility of $1k when you've got $60k BR compared with $1k when you only have a BR of 2k. That $1000 has higher utility now than it did before, it will mean more when you win and perhaps you will worker harder/smarter to get it.

I tend to operate off a local BR, when it gets big I gamble more, when it goes down I have to be cautious. I'm certainly not the person to offer advice on manageable BR's, whether it's poker or sports betting I operate at different levels. I'm a great believer in playing the game if its soft, whatever the limit. But under certain conditions: not money that hurts. My advice to you would be to go down the lower limit. If you win say $500 or more, just go up to the 5-10 and spin the wheel. You will probably lose, but you will be value of that I'm sure. Most importantly, it won't hurt if you to lose it. Sooner or later you will hit and when you do you will be totally freed up to carry on playing.

I know many people would disagree with going up the limits under these conditions: clearly you can't play your game. But when there are bad players you should usually play the straight forward game. The big advantage of playing this way is the reference point you are playing from, I think it gives you a huge psychological edge: if you get to 5k and another guy has 5k, but 2k is 'his own money' then you will feel very different when you committ your chips having a ref point of $500 or even nothing for your stack.

I remember a hand I played in the WPT: I reraised the guy $1500 on the river, it was a steal. I didn't really think about it that much, only after the hand did I think it was a gutsy play. I'm sure if I had bought in with my own dough I'd have struggled to make the play. Perhaps I'd have even passed without thinking, who knows. At the time though, I was weighed with nerves but not with the burden of cost, that freedom, I feel, allowed me to see and act on the opportunity. The same could happen if you streak.

The downside of course is that you tread water, you yo-yo between limits. However, if you hit, I think you will be free to play your best game, just so long as you don't count the money. That leads me to a downside of keeping results as you do. When I've hit form, I never count the money except when I take a chunk out of my account and that is crucially important to the success of this strategy.

This is an instance where I would hate to keep a BR record: once I've typed it in, I've won it and now my reference point for that stack is 'my $5000'. I don't keep records per se, but if I did I would probably just keep the account cashouts and buy-ins. I used to keep records of all my gambling, but since I've played internet card rooms and on-line betting exchanges regularly I've not bothered.

I'm not sure that my thoughts on BRs are correct w.r.t to EV, it's hard to say, but I think that advice is usually too cautious on BR: advising 10,000 people how to manage their BR is likely to elicit a different response to tha offered to 1 person. Offering an individual a 90% chance of not going bust is fairly successful, but condemning 1000 people to ruin? `

Anyway just some thoughts. Importantly, 'crisis, what crisis?', your strategy has served you very well. Stick to what you know, don't listen to a chancer like me!

chaos

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave

Just to say keep up the great journal and chin up during this bad patch. If you are smart enough to admit to yourself that 'the truth is my game is still quite wobbly' - and most players would never be able to do that - you're smart enough to be crushing 'em again very soon.

Best wishes
Tally

Big Dave D said...

Chaos,

Sounds a bit like the old DY idea of playing cash games like an extended tourney. It's a good idea, but despite my loose play, BR wise I do prefer to try at least to be a bit more conservative. Its not as if a drop to 2-4 will hamstring my win rate, it should still be anywhere between $60-120, just not the beautiful $350 ph of my heyday. So I will probably grind away until I get my Stars BR back up to $25-30k or so.

cheers

Dave

Big Dave D said...

Tally - tx for the kind words.

Dave

Mr Mediocre said...

Hey Dave,

I would like to add my words of encouragement (sounds funereal.. but its not meant to be). You KNOW your game is good, the numbers at the top of every post shout it out.

I have tried to adopt the style of play you allude to in your posts and appear to be doing rather well because of it.
Your insight has improved my game and made me a lot of dough too :-), although the games I am in are probably populated with the type of players causing your current frustration.

Chin up Big Man
Mr_Mediocre
ps. Please don't drop below $2/$4

Anonymous said...

I gotta say, as low stakes player, just starting out, I totally appreciate the complexity and integrity of your analysis. You're helping me appreciate the game at a whole new level.

Question: I'm playing $.10/$.25 PLO hi at Ultimate Bet. What kind of hourly win rate relative to the BB should I have as a goal? I'm trying for $10 an hour now, and was doing pretty good for a couple months. Now I've dropped a bit from some horrific beats and I don't know if that was a reasonable goal...

Big Dave D said...

Anon,

A realistic win rate is probably between 10-20 big blinds an hour. Crockpot on 2+2 claims higher for many multi-tabling but im not convinced. So a top end win rate would be 5 bucks an hour...more like somewhere between 2.5 to 5. So 10 was a bit too ambitious.

Gl

Dave

Andy_Ward said...

Any views on this last question Dave ? I'd be quite interested to hear your opinion. Or to put it another way, how high would a good player have to play PLO or PLO8 to make $50/hr (playing more than one game simultaneously if need be) ?

Andy

Andy_Ward said...

Oh sorry. Refresh blog before posting !

That's about what I would expect. So at least I know something about this game !

I would say to the .10-.25 player, whatever game you're playing, if the timespan you measure results over doesn't include one of these spells where you can't win an argument, your observed rate is probably too high, because these spells always come along every now and then.

Andy.

Big Dave D said...

Andy,

Like my run of form now :-)

To answer your originl question I guess I would want to be playing at 2-4 to 'make sure' of winning $50 ph. Are you thinking of giving it a spin? If you go to 2+2 and look up crockpots profile it has a link to his site which has some ok beginners stuff and a win rate table for pl games. But I would take it with a bit of salt...I dont see how anyone can play as many games as he claims to and win. But that could be my weakness, not his.

gl

Dave

Andy_Ward said...

Not right now - I know I can make at least as much [as I can playing PLO] in Sit + Goes with a much smaller variance. But maybe at some point I'll spin it up with $500 just for a change.

Andy.

redsimon said...

Hi Dave,

Saw you were in the 5/10 blind PLO8 on 'Stars Saturday. (I was in my usual 2/4 limit O8 6 handed raise-fest!). You stepped back up? You appeared to be out playing the table, even BuklaH went offline after a while :)

cheers


simon

Anonymous said...

Dave,

I remember having a little discussion about this with you on 2+2 that went unresolved.

Are you suggesting that it isn't possible to make more than 20BB/hr, even multitabling?

Even if only making 10BB/hr per table (which I would consider pedestrian for an expert), you think running 3 tables is so hard that you'd lose 33% of your e.v.?

That doesn't seem right to me. The only numbers I have on this is that I personally have seen about a 20% drop in e.v. when jumping from 3 tables to 4 (depending on the type of game), although obviously there's way too much variance, even with 3 years of data, for that comparison to be worth crap.

chaos said...

Question/comment to Andy

Following our brief discussion on THM on the merits of turning down EV to 'out-play' (allegedly!) one's opponents later I noticed, on here, that you play a lot of sit'n'gos.

I go through phases of playing them like I do most forms of poker. Now I would say that at times I go too much for what I would perceive to me thin moves, be they calls or raises. For example, preparing to pump put all my stack in pre-flop against the bridge jumpers with AK very early. W.r.t. to chips this often a positive move, often you will be dominating with the AK.

Now this decision isn't based on pot EV one must also consider how you are going to play with a bigger stack if you win. For some it is worth the punt.

Of course putting it thin is ok, when there is another STT sign up for, except for one thing. The juice.

I'm sure this is discussed on the forums that are dedicated to the STT'S but if you, for example are going to take on the marginal pot odds early it will be damaging: imagine taking on QQ v AK, nice healthy EV except the juice puts both players on -ve EV w.r.t. $$.

Such handicaps on decision-making can apply throughout the tournament to varying degrees. If you want to play the events you have to be the type of player whose chip EV is higher by turning down QQ v AK the first hand.

This can also be the problem when playing headsup and undoubtedly was, hence the juice reduced to half it's current value.

So in summary, unless you are a very good big stack player, you must surely decline these opportunites to outplay your opponents later.

regards chaos

Andy_Ward said...

Hi chaos,

Online Sit and Goes, paying 50-30-20, are a bit of a law unto themselves. Not only should you (generally) optimise somewhat for trying to finish third, if I (personally) am still there when we reach the 4-handed stage, then I have a big edge. So I would be turning down small EV edges early on in these.

However, people play so badly that situations which would "normally" be close in EV terms actually aren't. Some people, quite a few people in fact, will make the most horrendous calls for all their chips early on (AJ, small pairs and so on). If I do fold, for example, QQ pre-flop I still seem to be getting it wrong more often than right. For example the other night it went, player A pot raise, player B call, player C all in, all while I have QQ on the big blind. Slightly concerned about A and B, I binned it. A and B folded, C showed TT. Marvellous.

So, as ever, you have to adjust. But the edge I feel I have 4-handed in these is much much bigger than any edge I ever feel I have in an MTT. Especially a BBHE B+M MTT. I'm not sure what my conclusion is : probably, yes you should turn down small +EV gambles at the start of these, but make sure they really are only small +EV.

Andy.

Big Dave D said...

Red,

As long as I don't take my PLO-head into a PLO8b game (sound a bit like Worzel Gummidge :-) I generally think that my game is robust enough that I'm not quite as at as much risk as I would be in the same size PLO game. Things went well...but i donated again in the plo. Gonna stick to plo8b 4 awhile.

GL

Dave

Big Dave D said...

Anon,

Is that u crock? Please give me a name at least :-) I guess my bone of contention is that at 2-4 and above, winning more than 10BB+ an hour isnt necessarily that easy, and playing by the book, which you must to an extent do when multitabling, becomes much more dangerous as observation becomes more key in these much more aggressive games. Someone playing 3 or more tables at the big game on Stars would therefore be earning over $300 per hour, which I really struggle to see as a sustainable rate. But I accept this could be as much a limit with my lack of efective multitabling skills.

gl

Dave

Big Dave D said...

Chaos,

I've done some noddy analysis of this SnG issue and I think if you do the same, you will see that passing up a chance to double up is a HUGE mistake, especially if you remove a player at the same time. The way people play online then going allin with QQ-AA and AK must nearly always be very +EV.

gl

Dave

Big Dave D said...

Andy,

My analysis shows that if you double up early, your EV for that tourney effectively, or just under doubles too. And this was with conservative figures and a ROI of about 25%. Preflop, I just couldnt see how you could judge EV that finely that passing a chance to double up in a good spot could be right. In your example I would call in a NY second. Raise, pot sized reraise I may pass however. Run the numbers and see what you think.

dd

Andy_Ward said...

Dave,

When your ROI is higher, I'm fairly sure that doubling your stack early on does not double your EV. I haven't got the maths to prove it to hand, but it just can't be really - in a $10 tournament, if we expect to win $16 for a net profit of $5 after the rake (which is definitely feasible), doubling up would have to increase our expectation to $32, and when the prizes are $50-30-20, that's just can't be true.

Andy.

Andy_Ward said...

Oh, but you're right - I should definitely have called with the Queens !

chaos said...

Dave & Andy,

I can understand the ambiguity that I created by citing QQ. I was never of the opinion that passing QQ was a good thing, just that passing the type of advantage that QQ has against AK would/might be. For example 1010, or more realistically JJ or AK against the unknown field is probably close to the QQ v the known AKo. QQ vs the field is simply too good to pass down. (By the field I just mean the likely hands you are going to see against the average opponent moving all-in early).

A 55-45 all-in hand edge gives you an expected 110% worth of chips (or $110 say). Thinking about it this way gives leads to distorted decision-making compared to other forms of poker. It's a bit like a cash game with a 10% rake at that stage. Whether this is a good decision or not will depend on how much doubling-up is worth to you as a player.

If we take it further to a HU STT, then it is obvious with their 5% juice, that taking 52.5 % or less position on in a mutual all-in situation is loss making.

Whether the decision is right or not, in a never ending series of $100 ring STT's, depends on whether doubling up leads to a tournament EV of equal or greater than $200. Which would be achieved 55% of the time. If there is no such sequence then your ‘passing EV’ is more relevant.

It's a while since I've done any maths at all, let alone any in poker, maybe I need to think a little more. It is strange my first approach to poker was to try and solve it, but now it is completely very different. My maths mind is a little rusty. I digress.

The situation is clear in the HU STT's, but less so here in the ring STT’s, but I'm sure it is an issue that perhaps isn't being expressed clearly.

One must also consider that the advantage of having chips later, in particular four handed, is considerable and so perhaps it is worth it.

But then one might view these situations as equivalent to 'buying in for twice the chips'. That is essentially what you are doing when these situations arrive. Now this seems attractive to me initially until you extend the idea a little further.

Now consider a 5-handed mutual all-in scenario where we ignore the commission for now and assume 1000 chips as a starting position. Assume you are a zero chip EV. Four in five times you lose $100, say. The other time you get half the table's chips - 5000. Now you must win this STT just to break even for the four times you lose! Once you include rake, you can't possibly profit. This is worrying. The next question is what EV do you need to call a five-handed scenario to overcome the problems highlighted? Essentially how many times out of 5 do you need to win in order to return an expected profit? I don’t know off the top of my head what EV 5000 will have with 6-player remaining. Probably only AA would suffice. Naturally, the argument could extend albeit to a lesser extent to 4 handed mutual all-in. Eventually to the point of raising doubts to an early 2-handed all-in.

Clearly, if such an option existed, buying in for 5000 chips with five others buying in for 1000, taking it would be crazy in an STT with 50:30:20 payouts. Logic would dictate that buying in for 4000 would be to (even excluding the commission/juice). The same principle must surely apply that buying in for 2000 with 8 others buying in for 1000. Effectively this is was you are doing by chasing thin raises early in the STT’s.

In my opinion, it may be wrong for possibly two reasons: the juice may make $EV less attractive (i.e. .the type of losing behaviour exemplified by adopting a strategy of taking on, say, a 52 % in a HU SnG): in structured payouts, the non-participants gain when other stacks collide (essentially buying in for double, treble etc).

Off topic:

Dave NY second? Another Americanism? All I’ve got is nano!

THM: It’s not been my discussion to get involved with, but I have been very surprised by some of the comments coming from the pros regarding crap shoots. This one from Barny well, I don’t know how it stands up:

‘it's a very interesting point that giving people the chance to limp in and catch a lot of flops (Jac Arama style) actually increases the luck factor’

I simply can’t I’m reading this:

Just because you can get lucky this way can’t disguise the fact that you can get outplayed this way and bleed chips this way.

Regards

chaos

chaos said...

Andy,

'in a $10 tournament, if we expect to win $16 for a net profit of $5 after the rake (which is definitely feasible), doubling up would have to increase our expectation to $32, and when the prizes are $50-30-20, that's just can't be true'

That just goes to show how bad an all-in even money shot would be here. Take a more conservative figure that feels right, say $25. Your EV is down to $12.5. If an even money shot can be that bad, how good can a 60:40 shot be?

chaos

chaos said...

Apologies if that main post was less clear than usual! I had been making an effort lately too.:(

Big Dave D said...

Gents,

Shall we take this discussion to the next post where I have posted up my EV table?

cheers

Dave

Andy_Ward said...

It's funny (I refuse to use the horrendously over-used "ironic") that I've been preaching "anti-survival" so much lately, yet in this particular case I am probably in the survival camp. I'm still not sure though.

Well, when you're unsure, trust in the maths. My Equity calculator tells us that with 9 players, one with 2000 chips and the other 8 with 1000 each, the big stack has an equity of 18 (compared with starting 10). Suggesting that a 55-45 edge is required. Given that our initial equity is more than 10 (16 I think is a reasonable target), maybe we need a 60-40. Then again, making this move effectively reduces the time it takes to play the tournament (40% of the time we're gone), so increases our hourly rate ? On the other hand is our equity only so high BECAUSE we don't take this kind of gamble ? I get lost around this point. How about NO for less than 55%, YES for more than 60%, flip a coin in between !

Andy.

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