The Irexes Principle and the Napoleonic Player
In this thread here http://www.cardschat.com/f46/i-pwn-r...riance-116793/ (http://www.cardschat.com/f46/i-pwn-ring-i-mock-thee-variance-116793/) I do some bragging about a rather nice ring session and some people say some nice and/or sarcastic things.
Gesshoo (Joe) makes a very nice comment about my play (cause he's a good chap) and asks about the impact of bankroll management and sound game selection on success. This got me thinking about what the factors that affect long-term success are.
Obviously being able to play the game ok helps, but it is definately not the entire picture. Resistance to tilt and the ability to control the ego is something I've written about before (see here Irexes' Happy Fun Poker Blog
). But Joe's comment really got me thinking about what is necessary for long term success in terms of bankroll management, which led me in turn to consider the Peter Principle and it's impact on the world of poker.
The Peter Principle is a management theory that states that people continue to get promoted within an organisation until they reach a level at which they are incompetent. Indeed all of us are potentially incompetent if given sufficient responsibility.
The Irexes Principle (see what I did there) applies exactly the same theory to poker,
"Most players will move up in stakes until they reach a level at which they lose money."
The theory is that for most players who have more than a purely recreational approach to the game there is a drive to play higher and higher buy-in games.
This drive leads players to consistently play at a level which either their skill or bankroll cannot sustain and as a result they lose money. So a player may be winning 3BB/100 at $10NL and move to $25NL. Here they either find themselves a long-term loser or a winner, but at a lower rate where they would be better off back at 10NL.
Part of this is that I believe that too many players take a short-term view of the game and use it to justify their skill-level as being sufficient to move up. So a player may have 50,000 hands at $25NL losing at -3BB/100, but they have +4bb/100 over the final 3,000 hands. This possibly variance induced upturn is then used as a rationale to try out $50NL where they come unstuck (or even worse have a little bit of success which convinces them they can play the level, followed by their lack of skill hitting which is then denied and written off as bad luck).
The situation can be even worse in tournaments where anyone can get lucky with a big win. The realistic players sees this for what it is, but the victim of the Irexes Principle decides to move up the buy-ins and then complains when they lose the roll on an "unlucky" series of coin-flips.
So what's the key? I think that inspiration should be taken from Napoleon who was well aware of the perils of the Peter Principle (he probably attended a management course somewhere) and ensured that his soldiers were promoted only into roles that they were capable of. As a result his army was seen as a true meritocracy.
So the Napoleonic poker player will ensure that they don't fall victim to the Irexes Principle and play beyond their skill or roll, they will guard againt deluding themselves about their ability and will see good (and bad fortune) for what it is.
The Napoleonic Player will forever have the long-run in mind and will only move up when they are ready to do so. They will also happily move down again when things don't work out. Happy because they are demonstrating a skill as important as playing the right cards, and in the knowledge that when the time is right (and reinforced by further proven success at the level below) they will move back up again for another crack.
If I am a successful player it is because I am obsessed with the long-run. I am in no hurry to get where I want to be and am happy to think in terms of hundreds of thousands of hands and years of play. Upturns are nice, but can seduce you about your skill in the same way that a downturn can be wrongly written off as bad luck when it is fact a leak hitting home.
One day I'd like to get myself to 200NL (or even beyond) and sitting in the really big MTTs as a matter of course. If that day is not far off then great but if it takes me another 10 years, then that's fine too.