Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Moving Up and Losing Me Bottle

After last month of playing mostly $1/2 with some $2/4 and $3/6 and showing success in all of these stakes, I figured that the best move would be to start December playing only $2/4 and $3/6 from that point on, being well rolled for both games.  Being that playing the bigger pots in the larger games was distracting me from playing well in the smaller game, it seemed to make logical sense to eliminate the smallest game from my menu and enjoy the better win rates in the larger games.  Naturally, had this worked out so well, there would be no reason to make this post.

What I am attempting to explore here is whether or not you will do better in the long run by moving up now, EVEN IF you are well rolled and competent enough to beat the higher game.  Here is what I have found out:


Coventional poker knowledge: you should always keep playing when you are winning.  Short stack hero says:  HORSESHIT. Don't get me wrong here: I am not disagreeing with what all of the poker authors are saying in spirit, but rather, what they are saying in practice.  They have never addressed the psychological fact that people experience more pain due to a loss than the joy they receive relative to an equal win.

When I first started the month, I went up about $2,500 right out of the gate, in 3 short sessions.  Most of this came in $1,000 spurts experienced in the course of short runs of about 1-2 hours.  While this might feel quite good while it is happening, it is totally eclipsed by taking a dinner break and giving back $1,000 in 30 minutes.  The result?  It is very easy to go up a lot (relative to the smaller stakes you had been playing) and then find some external reason to quit and enjoy your win for the day.  To make matters worse, we create our own psychological barriers according the law of diminishing marginal utility.  It feels good to win the first $500 of the day and very good to hit $1,000 for the day, yet beyond this point, things begin to change.  Going up to $1,500 will make me feel only slightly better, yet dropping down to $500 for the day will make me feel lousy, with the irony being that had you told me the previous day that I would be making $500 tomorrow, I would be satisfied.

In sum, though $1,000 is still the same to me that it was in November, when you are playing just $2/4 and $3/6, it is an average of 2 full buy ins.  Easy to make and easy to give back.  My mind was simply not prepared for this.


This requires no extrapolation, for all of us have done this a some point.


We all know by know that poker profits are not just measured by the month, but also by the day, the hour, and to some people, by the hand.  No matter how big a single session is, time spent afterward away from the table will likely hurt your profits more than a long, slightly tilty session if you are a competent player.  The second week of the month was terrible.  I lost about $2,800 in the course of 3 short sessions and ran $3,300 under EV.  I had intellectualized that this would happen at some point, yet I was stilled floored by the fact it not only did, but that it happened so soon.  When you take a loss that is this disruptive, the thought of sitting at your desk becomes burdensome, if not intolerable.  Some people are made of stone and things like this just roll of their backs.  I am not one of them and I imagine that you are most likely not as well.


Damn short stackers have completely infested the full ring $2/4 and $3/6 games at Full Tilt (not for much longer, though)!  Rather than whine about it though, I just won't sit and play with them if there are too many and they have position on me.  Likewise, the higher you play, the fish become fewer and less frequent.  So for guys who are used to playing at 16-24 tables with little thought, this just becomes much more difficult to do.

As if it weren't difficult enough to make money at this game, making more money requires even more consideration than simply win rates and bank roll management.  Am I saying not to give it a try?  Absolutely not- just keep this on the back burner and be self-conscious at all times.

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