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A "Preponderance of Skill" may NOT be enough to make you a Winner in Poker!

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A "Preponderance of Skill" may NOT be enough to make you a Winner in Poker! - Fri Sep 09, 2011, 03:56 PM
(#1)
JDean's Avatar
Since: Aug 2010
Posts: 3,145
BronzeStar
A "Preponderance of Skill" may not be enough to make you a winner in Poker.

In my youth I racked up a lot of speeding tickets; that'll happen when 3 of your first 4 cars were a '69 Plymouh Duster, a '71 Olds Culass, and a '70 Dodge Challenger!

During one of my frequent appearences in traffic court, the judge opened the session by describing the way your guilt or innocence (provided you pled not guilty) would be determined. The way he describe it made perfect sense: In the U.S., a CRIMINAL TRIAL requires that the prosecution prove guilt beyond a "reasonable doubt", but in CIVIL matters like minor traffic violations or when you sue someone, the stadards to establish guilt (or fault) is much lower; you only require a "preponderance of evidence".

He likened the difference to a sliding scale of 0 to 100.

"Reasonable doubt" requires that you be 80% or 90% sure there was no other way the crime could have been committed except by the person on trial, while "Preponderance of Evidence" requires only 51% surety that the person defending themselves is at fault. He went on to explain that since a policeman has no personal animus towards you, HIS word would be considered more likely to be the "truth" than YOUR word, since you are trying to avoid a fine and are more likely to lie.

That made perfect sense to me, so I pled guilty to my speeding ticket and took my fine.

What does this have to do with POKER?

Well in order to be a long term winner, you must make better decisions than your opponents. Your SKILL LEVEL must be greater than theirs, or else you will possibly win some of the time, but lose in the long run. The problems a lot of players who are developing their skills run into is that they can not seem to break through to become consistent winners long term, even when they see their opponents make "mistakes" far worse, and far more often than they do; why is this?

It could be that they are only in possession of a "Preponderance of Skill", when they really need far MORE skill than that to become long term winners.

Consider...

Poker is a "zero sum" game.

This means that every time someone wins, someone else loses.
Since the Casino or on line Card Room must make money to continue spreading the game, they take RAKE of some sort form each pot.

Every nickel raked from the pot is one nickel less that is available for you to win.

How does this effect your chances of being a long term winner?

Well, on line you will probably see right around 100 hands per hour in a ring game.
If you are playing 1c/2c, and the average pot is $1 raked at 5c, that means for every hour you play there will be $5 that you cannot win.

If you are playing a TAG style, and are involved in 15% of the pots, this means each hour, there is 75c LESS available for you when you win.

If your decisions are, on average, just 1% or 2% "better" than your opponents' decisions, you will be a long term LOSER.

So right off the bat you must be far BETTER than "slightly better" than your opponents to have any hope of becoming a long term winner at Poker.

The trick is, how can you get there?

1) Study more, study better. Then study some more...

A lot of players "plateau" in their learning as soon as they feel they start to know more than most of their opponents. They stop studying because they "already know that newbie stuff".

Not only does this tend to result in them falling behind the curve of changes in poker strategies, it can also prevent them from strengthening the usefulness of knowledge they already possess.

Repetition never hurts if you already know something, and the act of repeating your study of a complex topic may well reveal truths you'd missed the first time through.

2) Game selection is paramount.

If you consistently play in games where you have only a 1% or 2% skill edge (or no edge at all), and ignore games where your skill edge may be 6% or 8% percent, you are robbing yourself of most of your chance to reach long term profitability.

Excuses for playing tougher opponents like "I can never win versus donks", or "to get better I have to play better players" do not hold water:

- Donks are everywhere so you need to adjust your play to beat them; get used to it and take their cash. They will be your most profitable targets when you do accept this fact.

- Study time is study time, playing time is for making profits. If you want to devote some of your STUDY time to playing in games amongst better opponnets, fine. But when you are selecting a game to PLAY, you are trying to maximize your profits. The better your opponents are in relation to your skills, the harder this will be to do.

Use money that is NOT part of your playing bank roll to fund your time in those harder games; take the cash instead from the amount you allocate for poker books or lessons, and consider it STUDY TIME instead.

3) Manage your Bank roll better to account for variance effects.

When you do not even have a 1% to 2% type skill edge on opponents, there is no sense in trying to use bank roll management techniques to manage variance.

I'm sorry to break this to you all, but if you are a long term loser without a demonstrable skill edge on opponents, the only thing managing your bank roll decisions to better control variance will do is cause you to last LONGER between re-loads.
If you are not studying to improve yourself, this fact will never change.
If you are not exercising good game selection to put yourself at tables where you do have a skill edge, eventually you will lose all your money no matter what.

If you are learning the game, re-loads are part of he cost of poker "knowledge", bu if you've been playing and get frustrated by the re-load frequency you have shown, it is time to start looking inward, and deciding if you are willing to do the things you MUST do to show long term profitability.

If, however, you do have a small skill advantage now, but not one which yet allows you to overcome the rake at your chosen level, you can make some adjustments to prevent you from going broke as fast; and this may be enough for you to get "over the hump" to long term profitability.

- Play a TAG style and eschew LAG play.
TAG play carries lower variance. Since your goal is to be a long term winner, this will allow you to stay "in action" longer by making your losses less damaging without giving up too much of your win potential.

- Keep good notes on opponents.
This will allow you to find games which are better, and more profitable for you. Doing that may be the small step you need to move past the bare minimum of skill edge to reach long term profitability.

- Focus on 1 game.
Varying the games you play is a good thing to do if your game selection is limited, such as in a live setting. Sometimes a $2/$5 NLHE game with a $500 normal sit stack will be LESS PROFITABLE for you than a $5/$10 Limit O/8 game with $200 sit stacks, even though you are far better at NLHE. Being able to play both games is critical for your long term profitability.

But on line, with the huge number of game options, and with the even larger number of sites with different options, means finding 1 specific game at a level you are properly funded to play is far easier than in Live play. Focusing on that 1 game gives you a chance to concentrate your learning in hopes of widening your skill edge on opponents. A further side benefit of doing that is your records will provide a much clearer indication about your true skill relative to your typical opppoents if you are not muddying your bottom line with a lot of different games.

So...

Rake is a killer.
But it is something that you will never be able to avoid in poker if you hope to play anything above your "kitchen table" type games.

Even if you have a skill advantage on your regular opponents, unless that skill advantae is quite LARGE, you may not reach long term profitability.

Since long term profitability should be a GOAL for anyone who plays poker beyond the purely recreational level, you must be aware that being just a "little bit better" than opponents is not enough; you must be a LOT better.

With that recognition must also come the willingness to do the things which are required to reach that higher level of skill, and if you are not willing to do those things, you stand little chance to become a long term poker winner.
 
Old
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Fri Sep 09, 2011, 07:11 PM
(#2)
RockerguyAA's Avatar
Since: Feb 2011
Posts: 1,089
BronzeStar
I've said this a dozen times, but will say it again. JDean is the man

This is a really important concept for anyone to understand if they want to take poker seriously. It really does not apply to recreational players. If your a recreational player, there is really no reason for you to concern yourself with this thread. That is not a knock against you, it is just that your simply not effected by this in any degree worth worrying about.

So, here we go. The rake is proportionally higher the lower the stakes you play - and lower the higher the stakes you play. The way it breaks down is stakes up to $100NL the rake is 5% with a rake cap that increases some depending on number of players. Stakes above $100NL the rake drops down to 1% and the rake caps out at $5 per pot. So a $10000 pot would have a rake of $5 or .05%.

What this means is that at the stakes $100NL and lower you need a substantially high BB/100 to cover the rake and show a profit. I don't really know the exact numbers, but 1-2 BB/100 and you might be breaking even (BB=Big Bet or 2 big blind). Above $100NL the same BB/100 may actually show a decent profit.

Also very important is rakeback in the form of VPPs/FPPs. When playing at stakes greater than $100NL you will be racking up a lot of VPPs. So much so, that even if you break even after accounting for the rake, you can still show a very decent profit thanks to various rakeback and rewards! There are players who make a living playing poker thanks to this even though they are generally breaking even at the tables. Exactly how this works out is dependent on VIP level.

Moving up through the stakes BB/100 will drop when going up from micros to low stakes, again going from low to medium stakes, and again when going from medium to high stakes. It is likely that BB/100 will drop when going through each of the levels within each category as well. This is of course due to the rising skill level of the player pool as you move up. A positive BB/100 represents your edge over your opponents and you will lose some of the edge as their skill increases.

So, it is much easier to obtain a high BB/100 at lower stakes and much harder at the higher stakes. Pokerstars accommodates this and is why their rake is lower at the higher stakes. This is also why their VIP rewards become more substantial the more rake you pay. It is all designed to make sure that the most skilled players at every stake level are rewarded with the proper degree of profits.

To sum up: At lower stakes the majority of profits comes from having a high skill edge against your opponents. At the higher stakes the majority of profits comes from VIP rewards for many winning players. The best of the best at higher stakes will actually show substantial profits from both their skill edge(BB/100) and VIP rewards.

Pokerstars rake info:
http://www.pokerstars.com/poker/room/rake/

Last edited by RockerguyAA; Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:18 PM..
 
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Fri Sep 09, 2011, 08:46 PM
(#3)
dale442's Avatar
Since: May 2011
Posts: 553
Great post JD.

Thank you

Sorry I didn't quote you, thought I'd save some space on the servers

Dale
 
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Fri Sep 09, 2011, 09:17 PM
(#4)
JDean's Avatar
Since: Aug 2010
Posts: 3,145
BronzeStar
For SNG and MTT, it gets worse...

A reasonable expectation in MTT play (depending on your style and risk acceptance profile) is that in large field events you will cash around 10% of the time, up to a sustainable max of around 20% of the time ITM. If you are cashing much above 20% after 1000 or so MTTs you are probably making far too many min cashes because you are passing up too many risk spots to chip up. How does this effect you...let's look:

A few months back, I took a look at the Poker Stars Pay tables for 1000 runner fields.
Do you realize that if you played 100 x $10,000 buy in events using those pay tables, and made the money 50% of the time, but each time you "made money" it was a min cash, you'd be a LOSER?

Yes, 50% of the time, or well over TWICE what you can normally expect for an ITM rate, would not be enough to make you a "winner".
(Note: You;d have spent $1,000,000, and gotten a return of just $900,000 for your 50 min cashes).

In single table SNG play at the $1.20 level, you can expect a roughly 33.3% ITM rate if you have equal skill to your opponents. 33% of those cashes would be 1st, 33% 2nd, and 33% 3rds if all skill level considerations were equal.

To BREAK EVEN (actually a tiny profit of roughly 2c per event played), you have to cash at LEAST 40% of the time, and of those 40% of ITM finishes, you would have to show at least 45% 1st places! A more realisitic assessment of your finish rate to sustain a long term winning ROI would require more along the line of 50% cashes, if your ITM distribution is around the 1/3rd/1/3rd/1/3rd ratio. Even then your profitability would be frustratingly small...

So the fact that you must be a LOT better than opponents, not just a little bit better to show long term profitability is even more true in SNG or MTT play than it is in Ring game play.

Are you working hard enough to get there, or are you just "playing for the fun of it"?

Last edited by JDean; Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 09:20 PM..
 
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Fri Sep 09, 2011, 10:48 PM
(#5)
Fillmore 59's Avatar
Since: Nov 2010
Posts: 131
JD, why go to traffic court? Far less trouble to just mail in your fines and be done with it. I learned that early on.

The rest of this disquisition is spot on. I'm counting the time spent reading it as "Study Time."

You are a man of few words, but do a great job nonetheless.

Last edited by Fillmore 59; Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:08 PM..
 
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Fri Sep 09, 2011, 10:59 PM
(#6)
dale442's Avatar
Since: May 2011
Posts: 553
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDean View Post
A "Preponderance of Skill" may not be enough to make you a winner in Poker.

In my youth I racked up a lot of speeding tickets; that'll happen when 3 of your first 4 cars were a '69 Plymouh Duster, a '71 Olds Culass, and a '70 Dodge Challenger!

.
Forgot about that part. You drove an OLDS

Dale

dale442

Another great post
 
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Sat Sep 10, 2011, 09:27 AM
(#7)
annie_22at90's Avatar
Since: Jun 2010
Posts: 864
Another great, informative, educational, thought provoking post.

Thanks JD.

 
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Sat Sep 10, 2011, 09:32 AM
(#8)
FLsnookman's Avatar
Since: Jul 2010
Posts: 565
Almost sounds like youre saying it would be better to play only the big tournys with the hope of on big score......
 
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Sat Sep 10, 2011, 03:10 PM
(#9)
JDean's Avatar
Since: Aug 2010
Posts: 3,145
BronzeStar
Quote:
Originally Posted by FLsnookman View Post
Almost sounds like youre saying it would be better to play only the big tournys with the hope of on big score......
If you do not yet have the skill to be better than your opponents at all, then why not?

...as long as you can afford the buy in's, you are really going to need to get lucky to win anyway. Why not try that luck where the chance of RETURN is greatest? (Note: you probably will NOT win, and it can get quite expensive, bu if you DO hit a hot streak, the return being larger will pay for a ton more LOSSES later on.)

But if you ARE at the point where you are slightly better than your opponents, then no, I'm not saying that. I'm saying you really need to consider your work as only "half done", and study HARDER to improve to the point where your skill advantage will allow you to overcome rake and the ill effects of variance.
 
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Sat Sep 10, 2011, 03:15 PM
(#10)
JDean's Avatar
Since: Aug 2010
Posts: 3,145
BronzeStar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillmore 59 View Post
JD, why go to traffic court? Far less trouble to just mail in your fines and be done with it. I learned that early on.
At that time (mid to late '80's), in the State of Illinois, if you appeared in court and pled guilty, you received "court supervision" for minor moving violations. If you maintained a clean record for 6 months, the speed ticket was completely wiped from your record and was never reported to insurance companies. If you mailed the fine in, you got the conviction AND it was immediately reported.

So mailing it in was easier, but more expensive in the long run...

...kinda like whining about bad beats and failing to keep studying to widen your skill edge on opponents instead of putting the extra work into your game required to break through to long term profitability.

 
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Sat Sep 10, 2011, 04:28 PM
(#11)
FarrahnsMom's Avatar
Since: Sep 2010
Posts: 242
my husband has a 71 dodge dart demon 340 4 speed fasttttttttttttttttttttttttttt lol gl all F.M
 
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Sat Sep 10, 2011, 04:31 PM
(#12)
Fillmore 59's Avatar
Since: Nov 2010
Posts: 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDean View Post
At that time (mid to late '80's), in the State of Illinois, if you appeared in court and pled guilty, you received "court supervision" for minor moving violations. If you maintained a clean record for 6 months, the speed ticket was completely wiped from your record and was never reported to insurance companies. If you mailed the fine in, you got the conviction AND it was immediately reported.

So mailing it in was easier, but more expensive in the long run...

...kinda like whining about bad beats and failing to keep studying to widen your skill edge on opponents instead of putting the extra work into your game required to break through to long term profitability.

I should have known you were using some clever gambit to beat the rap!

Last edited by Fillmore 59; Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 04:43 PM..
 
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Sun Sep 11, 2011, 04:18 AM
(#13)
emmaberks's Avatar
Since: May 2011
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDean View Post
A "Preponderance of Skill" may not be enough to make you a winner in Poker.

In my youth I racked up a lot of speeding tickets; that'll happen when 3 of your first 4 cars were a '69 Plymouh Duster, a '71 Olds Culass, and a '70 Dodge Challenger!

During one of my frequent appearences in traffic court, the judge opened the session by describing the way your guilt or innocence (provided you pled not guilty) would be determined. The way he describe it made perfect sense: In the U.S., a CRIMINAL TRIAL requires that the prosecution prove guilt beyond a "reasonable doubt", but in CIVIL matters like minor traffic violations or when you sue someone, the stadards to establish guilt (or fault) is much lower; you only require a "preponderance of evidence".

He likened the difference to a sliding scale of 0 to 100.

"Reasonable doubt" requires that you be 80% or 90% sure there was no other way the crime could have been committed except by the person on trial, while "Preponderance of Evidence" requires only 51% surety that the person defending themselves is at fault. He went on to explain that since a policeman has no personal animus towards you, HIS word would be considered more likely to be the "truth" than YOUR word, since you are trying to avoid a fine and are more likely to lie.

That made perfect sense to me, so I pled guilty to my speeding ticket and took my fine.

What does this have to do with POKER?

Well in order to be a long term winner, you must make better decisions than your opponents. Your SKILL LEVEL must be greater than theirs, or else you will possibly win some of the time, but lose in the long run. The problems a lot of players who are developing their skills run into is that they can not seem to break through to become consistent winners long term, even when they see their opponents make "mistakes" far worse, and far more often than they do; why is this?

It could be that they are only in possession of a "Preponderance of Skill", when they really need far MORE skill than that to become long term winners.

Consider...

Poker is a "zero sum" game.

This means that every time someone wins, someone else loses.
Since the Casino or on line Card Room must make money to continue spreading the game, they take RAKE of some sort form each pot.

Every nickel raked from the pot is one nickel less that is available for you to win.

How does this effect your chances of being a long term winner?

Well, on line you will probably see right around 100 hands per hour in a ring game.
If you are playing 1c/2c, and the average pot is $1 raked at 5c, that means for every hour you play there will be $5 that you cannot win.

If you are playing a TAG style, and are involved in 15% of the pots, this means each hour, there is 75c LESS available for you when you win.

If your decisions are, on average, just 1% or 2% "better" than your opponents' decisions, you will be a long term LOSER.

So right off the bat you must be far BETTER than "slightly better" than your opponents to have any hope of becoming a long term winner at Poker.

The trick is, how can you get there?

1) Study more, study better. Then study some more...

A lot of players "plateau" in their learning as soon as they feel they start to know more than most of their opponents. They stop studying because they "already know that newbie stuff".

Not only does this tend to result in them falling behind the curve of changes in poker strategies, it can also prevent them from strengthening the usefulness of knowledge they already possess.

Repetition never hurts if you already know something, and the act of repeating your study of a complex topic may well reveal truths you'd missed the first time through.

2) Game selection is paramount.

If you consistently play in games where you have only a 1% or 2% skill edge (or no edge at all), and ignore games where your skill edge may be 6% or 8% percent, you are robbing yourself of most of your chance to reach long term profitability.

Excuses for playing tougher opponents like "I can never win versus donks", or "to get better I have to play better players" do not hold water:

- Donks are everywhere so you need to adjust your play to beat them; get used to it and take their cash. They will be your most profitable targets when you do accept this fact.

- Study time is study time, playing time is for making profits. If you want to devote some of your STUDY time to playing in games amongst better opponnets, fine. But when you are selecting a game to PLAY, you are trying to maximize your profits. The better your opponents are in relation to your skills, the harder this will be to do.

Use money that is NOT part of your playing bank roll to fund your time in those harder games; take the cash instead from the amount you allocate for poker books or lessons, and consider it STUDY TIME instead.

3) Manage your Bank roll better to account for variance effects.

When you do not even have a 1% to 2% type skill edge on opponents, there is no sense in trying to use bank roll management techniques to manage variance.

I'm sorry to break this to you all, but if you are a long term loser without a demonstrable skill edge on opponents, the only thing managing your bank roll decisions to better control variance will do is cause you to last LONGER between re-loads.
If you are not studying to improve yourself, this fact will never change.
If you are not exercising good game selection to put yourself at tables where you do have a skill edge, eventually you will lose all your money no matter what.

If you are learning the game, re-loads are part of he cost of poker "knowledge", bu if you've been playing and get frustrated by the re-load frequency you have shown, it is time to start looking inward, and deciding if you are willing to do the things you MUST do to show long term profitability.

If, however, you do have a small skill advantage now, but not one which yet allows you to overcome the rake at your chosen level, you can make some adjustments to prevent you from going broke as fast; and this may be enough for you to get "over the hump" to long term profitability.

- Play a TAG style and eschew LAG play.
TAG play carries lower variance. Since your goal is to be a long term winner, this will allow you to stay "in action" longer by making your losses less damaging without giving up too much of your win potential.

- Keep good notes on opponents.
This will allow you to find games which are better, and more profitable for you. Doing that may be the small step you need to move past the bare minimum of skill edge to reach long term profitability.

- Focus on 1 game.
Varying the games you play is a good thing to do if your game selection is limited, such as in a live setting. Sometimes a $2/$5 NLHE game with a $500 normal sit stack will be LESS PROFITABLE for you than a $5/$10 Limit O/8 game with $200 sit stacks, even though you are far better at NLHE. Being able to play both games is critical for your long term profitability.

But on line, with the huge number of game options, and with the even larger number of sites with different options, means finding 1 specific game at a level you are properly funded to play is far easier than in Live play. Focusing on that 1 game gives you a chance to concentrate your learning in hopes of widening your skill edge on opponents. A further side benefit of doing that is your records will provide a much clearer indication about your true skill relative to your typical opppoents if you are not muddying your bottom line with a lot of different games.

So...

Rake is a killer.
But it is something that you will never be able to avoid in poker if you hope to play anything above your "kitchen table" type games.

Even if you have a skill advantage on your regular opponents, unless that skill advantae is quite LARGE, you may not reach long term profitability.

Since long term profitability should be a GOAL for anyone who plays poker beyond the purely recreational level, you must be aware that being just a "little bit better" than opponents is not enough; you must be a LOT better.

With that recognition must also come the willingness to do the things which are required to reach that higher level of skill, and if you are not willing to do those things, you stand little chance to become a long term poker winner.
Hmm, like me then. 45 points got lil me a 3 year ban. All for sodding speeding tickets.
 
Old
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Mon Sep 19, 2011, 01:42 PM
(#14)
mcrissinger's Avatar
Since: Jun 2010
Posts: 1,650
BronzeStar
Bump. People should read this.
 

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