I was talking with a friend yesterday – one that doesn’t play poker – and I found myself having to defend my losing some 50 tournaments since my last big win. I had to explain my 156% ROI, and lecture on how the long term is what’s important. You see – I won $25,000 playing online MPO777 last year, by playing mostly NL/PL Hold’em, tournaments, and cash games, and I made a big quit in only the final 2 hours of the tournament.
Having a $25,000 bankroll – and playing in $lotteries until it was gone – is a long, costly, and tedious way to make a living in poker. You have to take it all the way – including the money management, the tilt, and the aesthetics. Even the best players don’t have a $25,000 bankroll – especially if they’re used to living off their wins.
My friend wanted to know why I played so well last year given the odds. I told him, essentially, that I did nothing different. I didn’t play much differently in ’06 than I did in ’03 or ’04. I spent more time on my poker computer doing research and analysis then I did playing, and I probably got my internet fixed before the tournament began.
Most players, especially North American born and bred, are inclined to think in the short term. If you think about it for a moment – looking at the bigger picture, the numbers are bound to be heavily in our favor. We’re conscionable – we want to win big money, obviously, but we also get a thrill out of tough decisions and coming up just short.
Look at the way you think about the game, and you will see that the decisions you make will be more informed and more sophisticated in the long run. It’s not about playing every hand – leaving yourself open for cheating, deciding whether to fold or bluff, raising or checking, etc. – those decisions are part of the thrill of the game.
How about the long-term? Can you name a sport where the team’s demise leads to the best player in the world getting killed? Can you think of an event where something terrible has happened and you were right there to see it? If you can think of a time when you were a favorite to win a tournament, you were right There is a special something inside of you that makes you do good. That something is called good poker math.
Calculating the pot odds requires a lot of skill. When you are deciding whether to call in a poker game, you need to think about your outs, and your implied odds. Oh, there is such a thing called implied odds, but you have to be aware of it. When you are folding to get a free card, you have to consider your implied odds. It’s mostly about the other players.
You need to be able to calculate the odds, and you need to be able to do it fast. There are a lot of things going on behind you, the other players, the dealer, the card dealer shuffler, the folks at the table across from you, all contribute to what you call the noise level. When you are folding for example, because you think you are probably beaten, you need to consider the likelihood that somebody aces you. It’s mostly about the cards in your hand and what could happen to make you good.
Delegating the work to someone else when you call is mostly about your skill and understanding of the game. You probably noticed that in the movies, the lead guy would always get his own way. In real life, it’s about the individual things that you can do in any given situation. It’s not like you can turn it off when you want to play.
Knowing what to do in a lot of different situations is not always easy to do. It’s somewhat of a skill thing, but also it depends on the other players, the situations, and the cards. You don’t always have to have the best hand to win – you can win with a combination of other people in a hand also. You just have to be better than your opponents when it comes to hand day.
So, you need to swear off your parents, siblings, and friends, and find a stronger competition. You’ll need to put aside a big pile of gold to keep yourself motivated. Playing poker to win some quick money might not be a great idea, because if it’s a competition, you’ll have to work twice as hard to win the first prize. It’s better to win two or three times the prize as opposed to the one time in the movie.