A nice article on `luck in poker` if u have ever taken a bad beat read this...
On the back of one of the contributors to CC, I was searching the net and found this article on luck in poker. It, IMO, makes sense of what is sometimes a soul destroying situation
How Much Luck Is There In Poker?
Published on Wednesday, October 11, 2006 9:40:00 AM
Beginning poker players and advanced poker players rarely concern themselves with the same questions, but there is one question that virtually all poker players, regardless of skill, ask themselves on a regular basis: how much luck is there in poker?
Rank beginners tend to treat poker much like they would treat craps, roulette
, or other pure chance games. They think they'll win if they catch good cards and lose if they don't.
As players start to learn a little, they recognize how much more they now know than they did before, usually overrating their newfound abilities, and they pass through a stage where they feel there is very little luck in poker.
When players become truly advanced, their view on luck is a bit tougher to pin down. Most great players have big poker egos, and that kind of ego does not allow them to view their game as one where luck plays much of a role. Yet these great players do not always win, even when they are playing against clearly inferior opposition.
That leaves us with one of two possible conclusions. Either there is luck in poker, even at the highest levels, or the great players don't always play well. I think both statements are true.
When players of vastly different skill levels meet one another, there is not much luck in poker. Although even a rank beginner can get lucky against good players for a brief period, if there really is a big difference in skill, the beginner might as well be trying to hit a lottery ticket, over the long run.
When players of equal skill level meet, luck plays a very important role. The trick, of course, is that it is very unusual for players who are truly equal in skill level to meet. There are so many different kinds of skills possible in poker—the number might be 50 or 500, depending on how narrowly you want to define "skill"—that even if two players possess the same number of skills (let's say 28 of the 50), they aren't going to be the same 28 skills.
Further, unless you're playing a heads-up match, in a typical game there will be a mix of players at different skill levels. The thought of nine exactly equal players sitting down is almost impossible to imagine. Usually the better players take down the money, but it's very clear that the worst player at the table sometimes walks away with the cash, and there's no way to explain that other than luck—short term luck, to be sure, but luck just the same.
Most advanced players are willing to concede the existence of short-term luck, but most of them believe, quite rightly, that in the long term, the better players will get the money. How can we reconcile this correct statement with the equally correct observation that top players frequently go broke, or go on very extended losing streaks?
In most cases, I think these streaks of "running bad" are not the result of several months or years of phenomenally bad luck. Usually, they happen because the hugely talented player makes one or more the following mistakes:
1) Plays for too high an amount, relative to his bankroll.
Generally, a player plays his best poker when the amount of money at stake matters, but isn't life changing. Great players tend to seek high stakes games. If the amount at risk is too high, some players can't play optimally. They have to pull in their horns, and not make good percentage plays that add to fluctuations. This makes it harder to win. If the player loses a lot in one of these games, he may be forced into playing games that are so small that he either does not respect his opponents or his chips, and either of those mistakes can lead to more losing.
2) Goes on emotional tilt and as a result does not play up to his or her abilities.
A nearly universal problem. Some players are far more susceptible to it than others. If a player truly has been the recipient of bad luck for a while, usually it becomes easier for that player to go on tilt. A small amount of bad luck thus brings on bad play, which leads to more losing and more tilting. A "good" player who never goes on tilt will almost certainly win more money, long run, than a "great" player who is vulnerable to tilting. A very interesting question, for me, is whether we should still define the "great" player as great, if he has this weakness, and if we should define the "good" player as merely good, if he doesn't have it.
3) Always or almost always plays with players who are even better than he is.
If you are the 10th best hold'em player in the world, and only play in games with the top nine, you're going to lose. If you're the 5,000th best, and only play in games with players "ranked" below 10,000, you're going to kick butt. This is another instance of a player's ego getting in the way of his results.
4) Drug or alcohol use.
Another classic Achilles heel. Professional poker players often choose the poker path, rather than floor trading on a stock exchange or working for a big company, because they like the independent lifestyle. They like being able to get up when they want and go wherever they want. This sort of freedom also makes it easier for someone to indulge in bad habits. The late Stu Ungar was almost certainly the greatest player who ever lived, when he was clean and on his game. But he went through long periods of being broke, because his bad habits got the better of him.
5) Becomes so overconfident that he starts making sub-par plays, or playing too many hands, figuring he can outplay people later.
Another classic ego mistake: "I'm so good, I don't have to play perfectly." Once again, I have to debate whether a player who makes this kind of mistake is really that great.
So, if a hugely talented player makes one or more of these mistakes, is it right to call that player hugely talented? Probably. Is that player "better" than someone with less ability or experience but who always plays his best? That's tougher to answer, but I think you can tell my view is that what seems like bad luck is very often the result of bad play. There's absolutely no question that bad luck happens. How much you let it affect you separates the winners from the losers.
There's a marvelous, terrific, outstanding line in the poker novel Shut Up and Deal.
It's so good that I really wish I had invented it. Paraphrased in a form that fits this article, it is: "The skill is not what is hard about poker. The skill is easy. The luck is hard. A lot of people can learn to be skilled. Very few people can handle the bad luck."
Finally, I think luck is very situation specific. What's more unlucky, an opponent who in a 10-20 game catches two consecutive perfect cards on the turn and river to make four of a kind and beat your full house (at odds
of more than 1,000-1 against), or an opponent who has nine outs to make his flush on the last card and beat you at the end of the final hand of the World Series of Poker
, and he catches the card at odds about 4-1 against? Timing can be everything.
This complex set of variables starts to explain why I can't simply say something like "Poker is 60% skill and 40% luck." The amount of luck found in poker is a very complex question. I do know this much: if forced to choose, my ego would choose that I be good. My wallet would prefer that I be lucky, every time.
This article is written by Andrew N.S. Glazer, the Poker Pundit.