Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Best of Bronski

YTD +$39953.81

Can you tell me why I seem compelled to fall into the same traps again and again and again?

The Eternal Recurrence?

Having finally fought into profit for the month I proceed to sit in a big hilo limit game, which was great. But I wasn't. As usual I tilted into needing to get lucky and the Gods of Poker didn't disappoint me.

Then I decided to multitable up to four tables of holdem, even though long experience has taught me that two is my maximum, three at a very short push.

Back in the red, then.

Does anyone else have similar repetitive destructive habits of the poker variety?

Look for a repeat of this post sometime soon...


Anonymous said...

Oooooohhhhh Yeah. This is me exactly. I have found one or two games I beat pretty consistently, and a couple I really do NOT beat, and win up to about $700 in the games I'm good at, lose down to about $300 in the other games, return chastened and continue. These are SELF DEFEATING patterns of behavior. I know it, but talk myself into it over and over.

The thing I can't figure is I win at UB and lose at Party. If I could figure out why I lose at Party $25 PLO, I would bew a happy man...

Anonymous said...

Eh. I wouldn't worry about it too much. I've noticed that on a month to month basis, my overall hourly winrate has always been about 60% of what it would be if I had just played my "best" game and not wasted money trying to move up, play tournaments, or try out different games. But then one day I noticed that I was beating the higher limits, was making a few tournament scores, and had a lot more games to choose from. It sucks when you blow a lot of "hard earned" money that way, but keep it in perspective.

Btw, to respond to one of your older posts about moving down, I know how humbling that can be. A while back I was beating the 2-4 stars plo game nicely (the biggest game back then), but then blew most of my roll trying to take on the 100-200 lh when it first started up. Then when I moved down, not only was it embarassing, but suddenly I found I couldn't beat the .50-1 anymore, because I thought I was such a badass. I went as low as the .25-.50 on party before roaring back (with a vengence). Another problem, on stars anyway, is that I think the smaller games are probably tougher than the 5-10, so moving down is a double-whammy.

chaos said...

Hi Dave,

Well I don't consider sitting in the big game to be a mistake, as I've mentioned before, but playing four tables I do; at least it is for me. I think impatience is getting the better of you. When that happens somehow you have to set yourself a different set of objectives - not winning money. Go sit in a game of poker that is 'aware', perhaps the 30-60 at PS and just focus on playing that game and playing it well.

I think we all fall into traps of somesort or another, I wrote a bit about mine til I lost the post. It is very frustrating. The 'why' is quite simple I suppose: the emotional part of our brain (amygdala, I think) becomes rampant under sressful circumstances.

A non-gambler recently said to me that he thought that gamblers weren't happy until they lost all of their money. I quoted some 70's research that found people were generally 'loss' averse and so may explain why we risk so much to avoid losing situations. I think the risks we take has something to do with seeking some lower (or is it higher) state of emotional entropy.

By way of an example consider a guy in a poker final with say 50k chips. Now suppose there were 3 different reference points for this stack:

1/ he started the final with 50k.
2/ he started with 25k and just doubled through.
3/ he started with 100k and just lost half his stack.

We know that the perception held by his opponents will be different in each case (and so effect decision-making), but it is safe to say that the strategy employed should be similar in each case: 50k has the same 'value'. Yet we all know that it is hghly likely that a normal player will play very differently in each scenario.

Losing half your stack is emotionally tough to take. Not only have you lost a lot of chips but a lot of your table presence too: you don't carry as much threat; you don't warrant as much respect etc. It's tough to take. Some guy has got your chips, seems a little smug, players are now seeking to bully you a little more and so on. All this makes us feel very, very uncomfortable. No doubt our emotions are trying to encourage us to leave this state. If we double up, we can return to our previous state and the emotional pressures can dissipate. Alternatively if we bust out then we at least leave this uncomfortable environment and again the emotional stress dissipates (to be replaced by some medium term issues). So, if this is true, busting out or doubling up is a state that our emotions prefer over the current limbo-state. Risk-taking is win-win for our short-term emotions. No wonder we take more risks: our emotions want out of here.

Contrast that with doubling up. Emotionally we feel great in this state, do we really want to risk our current state of happiness to double up?

Does doubling up again double our happiness utility?

Happiness utility! Oh dear, I think I'd better stop.


Seed said...


My destructive habit is that, after playing a SnG or three (my best game), I almost always end up sitting down at a ring game and losing some of my profit. It is too late to start another SnG so I figure I will catch a couple of hands in a ring. The problem is that because I know my time is limited, I tend to want to push. I see too many flops and I chase too many pots. Each time I tell myself that I will play it tight for an orbit or two but when I see the 89o in my hand I figure, "what the hell, I'm up for tonight, maybe I will catch a monster." Invariably, I will get a 67A flop and things will get ugly. I'm tired. I am in the spirit to push and catch some cards. I am being very stupid. In another situation, I would be smarter, play the pot odds and be OK. In this situation, I want to break someone and I usually end up paying out myself because of it.

Anonymous said...

Regarding doubling up and doubling the "happiness utility" all I can say is, "Remember the law of decreasing marginal returns." That is all...


Anonymous said...

That is a hugely perceptive post by Chaos. When you're sitting with half of what you had (tourney or ring game) you feel the need to double up quick. Its ridiculous really. Say you take 200 onto a 2/4 nl ring game and lose 80. It is disappoitning but in the scheme of things compared to overall bankroll it means very little. But once it's happened I am far more likely to lose the 120 than double up. I've taken to topping back up lately and think this is best, but I still can't get away from the thoughts of "I'm down $x amount in this session". It really should be about the long run but I struggle to convince myself sometimes.

On the subject of levels, I have backed off the $5/$10 NL Holdem ring games on UB. I am up overall but fear I am outmatched at the moment, and the thought of losing $500 or more in one hand scares me to the point where I am playing too timidly. But if I play $1/$2 I am far too cavalier and often give away $100 with highly questionable plays. Settled on $2/$4 for now...

Julian Reed

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

It is very reassuring to hear that I'm not the only one who keeps doing stupid things like this. The more I play, I come to realise that maybe the key element to the game, my game anyway, is confidence. That's why every time this happens, every time I convince myself I can beat the bigger games, I has a double negative effect. First and foremost on my BR, but even more so on my confidence. In fact, I do think I can beat bigger games than I'm actually playing now, but I know that I'm overextending my BR every time I sit down in one and it affects my play.

Struggling with lack of confidence in one's play is tough, and one of the things I'm working hardest on. It is very nice to see that very gifted and skillful players also repeatedly make mistakes similar to mine. Then I guess, I'm not an idiot - or at least, not the only one.

Anders - www.legenden.dk