Big Pot Winner Psychology (blog X-post)

F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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It's been such a while since I last wrote a strategy related blog post that I had to celebrate by crossposting it here.

Thoughts?

https://www.cardschat.com/blog/09/19/the-big-pot-winner-psychology/

Mike Caro writes in his book about a phenomenon that doesn’t quite qualify as a “tell” but still gives a pretty reliable bit of meta-information about someone’s actions: When someone wins a big pot, he is - according to Caro - often too busy stacking chips to play the next hand unless it’s a monster.

Conclusion? If someone who just won a big pot decides to play (or raise) the next hand, watch out - it’s probably something you don’t want to tangle with. This is all good; but it doesn’t apply to online poker, since there’s no stacking of any chips going on.

Except it DOES. It’s still very true in online poker. Someone who just won a big (huge) pot is, in my experience, much less likely to play the next hand. Go ahead and steal his blind, if he’s in one. Or if you’re in the cut-off and he’s on the button, go ahead and steal the other blinds as if YOU had the button. The guy who just raked home a monster is unlikely to play. Like I said, this is from experience. So why is that?

I believe it’s because Caro, while right about the effect, is wrong about the cause. The reason people don’t play the next hand after having won a monster has little or nothing to do with them being busy stacking chips; it’s because they want to savour the feeling of having won a big pot. They don’t want to risk losing it the next hand! They just won something, and they want to protect it! Use that to your advantage, realize that you’re suddenly playing against someone who’s a lot more risk-averse than he was just 30 seconds ago. This is my best guess as to why this phenomenon occurs.

The effect becomes extremely obvious when I’m playing heads-up, and my opponent - who up until this point has been raising or calling every hand for the past 20 hands, suddenly wins a big pot and then goes on to fold preflop three times in a row. This seems to very often be the case, and it’s reliable enough that I often will openraise with any-two vs. an opponent who’s just won a big pot (although admittedly I raise quite a few hands regardless).

So in the future, when someone at your table wins a bit pot, make two notes if he’s somewhat of a typical player (non-maniac):
1. His blind - if he just posted one - is up for grabs.
2. If he plays back at you, you should be a lot more inclined to fold.

/FP
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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Yep.
It doesn't even have to really be a "big" pot-- anyone who just won does not want to give that win back, so I will very often raise with atc into these players.

Also, you should be aware that any "big event" at the table will tend to tighten everyone else up as well. This could be a huge pot just won (by anyone), a monster bad beat taken (by anyone), or someone just having been knocked out-- the table, as a whole, will be less likely to want to play a hand after an "event".
 
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F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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Also, you should be aware that any "big event" at the table will tend to tighten everyone else up as well. This could be a huge pot just won (by anyone), a monster bad beat taken (by anyone), or someone just having been knocked out-- the table, as a whole, will be less likely to want to play a hand after an "event".
Right, and that qualifies as "tapping the glass" a bit. People get complacent when playing poker and start playing on auto-pilot. Most people's autopilot is a loose/passive player and the less they think, the more loose/passive they become.

But then something happens, they become alert and start thinking about what they're doing, if only temporarily, yup. There's a difference here I believe, though, and it's this: Someone who's won a big pot wants to defend his chips so he folds. Someone who becomes "alert" suddenly starts playing better poker, so he does what is usually the good-poker move of folding.

I suppose I could say that I believe the difference is that the big-pot-winner becomes tight-passive and the event-effect on the table is tight-aggressive.

Sound about right to you, AG?
 
Flops'm&Bets'm

Flops'm&Bets'm

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I've seen that

I agree to both points, as I have seen it happen in regularity.
Mike Caros a 'freak' but has really sound advice, with a strange
way of getting the point across to such an extent that the 'oddness'
makes it so you can't help but pay more attention to the lecture.!

The key factor for me after taking down a monster, esp. from a
'Notorious Maniac' at a table online is,
A.) They are on Immediate TILT to get that stack back at all cost.
B.) Any hand I play after that gets folded to me with a min. raise.
because of the respect of taking such a bold risk to beat up the bully
at the table... 'nh' congrats, and a sigh of relief can usually be felt around the table.
As the monster stack now becomes the avg., weak, and weary of previous antics.
C.) The rest of the table has the Chicken Little frenzy. And once
the Doom is proven not so scary, the other players tend to get
notions of their own as to 'Taking on Goliath'.
Seeing as how 'if he can do it so can I'.

Its all about pecking order...
I have many times been awake in pre-dawn and the birds are just waking up.
If you notice, the birds of various types come out to feed,
at different times to avoid other predatory birds and animals.
Sparrows will feed very early to pick and run before sun rise.
Robins are out about the same time to get the worms.
Crows, Ravens come out in full day to pick up last nights,
Hot Dog cart, pub crawlers leavings...(and they have poor vision and like shiny stuff)...etc.
But when the Crow are out the rest of the smaller birds, have had their fill and retreated.
~Picking up Blinds is like taking home the girl that no one wants at closing time~
Check around, Raise, and Scoop back to the roost.

~Take it or leave it thats my theory~ (pun intended)
 
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aliengenius

aliengenius

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Right, and that qualifies as "tapping the glass" a bit. People get complacent when playing poker and start playing on auto-pilot. Most people's autopilot is a loose/passive player and the less they think, the more loose/passive they become.

But then something happens, they become alert and start thinking about what they're doing, if only temporarily, yup. There's a difference here I believe, though, and it's this: Someone who's won a big pot wants to defend his chips so he folds. Someone who becomes "alert" suddenly starts playing better poker, so he does what is usually the good-poker move of folding.

I suppose I could say that I believe the difference is that the big-pot-winner becomes tight-passive and the event-effect on the table is tight-aggressive.

Sound about right to you, AG?

Yes, true. IF they decide to play-- empahsis on the 'tight' in tight-aggressive.
 
KMC1828

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wow. havent even thought about that before. gonna try to implement this into my game and see how well it works.

how much do you think position would play a part in a raise after an "event"? i think if the whole table is effected it wouldnt really matter what position you're in you could probably raise atc and take blinds unless someones got a big hand. tell me if im wrong though of course.
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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wow. havent even thought about that before. gonna try to implement this into my game and see how well it works.

how much do you think position would play a part in a raise after an "event"? i think if the whole table is effected it wouldnt really matter what position you're in you could probably raise atc and take blinds unless someones got a big hand. tell me if im wrong though of course.

Raising in earlier position just means you have to get through more people/more chances of there being an actual hand out there that someone wants to play.
 
reglardave

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Dosen't all of this kind of fly in the face of Doyle's contention that "luck" at the table runs in streaks, ie, when you're hot, you're hot? And I see this occur often in MTTs, where a player will "rush" and win 3-4 showdowns in a row, sometimes in improbable circumstances.

I do definitely agree that a big event at a table will effect everyon's play for a brief time, and it's a good opportunity for steals .
 
F Paulsson

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Doyle calls it streaks, I call it recall bias.
 
KMC1828

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Raising in earlier position just means you have to get through more people/more chances of there being an actual hand out there that someone wants to play.

yet would you still raise it up from anywhere on the table right after an "event"?
 
rainsoaked

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I would think the general recommendations about hand strength would apply for early positions. Not just ATC. I think this because the time between your raise and their action can work as a cooling off/regrouping period and the window can slam shut. Got my fingers smashed more than once.
 
dj11

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Dosen't all of this kind of fly in the face of Doyle's contention that "luck" at the table runs in streaks, ie, when you're hot, you're hot? And I see this occur often in MTTs, where a player will "rush" and win 3-4 showdowns in a row, sometimes in improbable circumstances.

I do definitely agree that a big event at a table will effect everyon's play for a brief time, and it's a good opportunity for steals .

Doyle calls it streaks, I call it recall bias.

I too, will go with the streaks, or at minimum the possibility of the streak. Yes variance plays its part, but it happens too often to ignore. Rushes of 3 or 4 hands in close proximity that hold up. If somebody all of a sudden is in multiple pots in a row, I usually ascribe the possibility they are in the midst of one of these rushes.

Since so many hands over time are junk hands won by mid pair or lower, when big cards start hitting, it seems to be in streaks, and often seem to focus on a particular seat.

One of the things about poker is the voodoo magic luck aspect of the game. If we can suffer the bad beat 3 hands in a row, we can be the bad beaters 3 hands in a row. Yes it is variance, but it still fits nicely under the statistical normal bell curve. It is those streaks of 7+ hands that get into the statistically subnormal ends of the bell.

I believe in rushes, and count on them happening at some point in a contest.
 
tenbob

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I usually raise ATC after winning a big pot, especially online. In a live game, I usually AM STACKING chips. I really do think that this idea is more applied to live games, I wouldnt give it too much merit in an online situation.
 
zachvac

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Dosen't all of this kind of fly in the face of Doyle's contention that "luck" at the table runs in streaks, ie, when you're hot, you're hot? And I see this occur often in MTTs, where a player will "rush" and win 3-4 showdowns in a row, sometimes in improbable circumstances.

I do definitely agree that a big event at a table will effect everyon's play for a brief time, and it's a good opportunity for steals .


Doyle Brunson is a great poker player, but he seems to be horrible with math. Unless the shuffling is off, or the RNG of the site is broken, each hand you have an equal chance of getting any hand. Flip a coin 50 times. How many runs do you see? Now look back at every heads you got and see how many of those are followed with a heads vs. a tails. Do the same for after 2 heads. If it is a fair coin and if there is enough variation (you may have to flip more), you'll see that while there are plenty of streaks, the odds after winning when it seems you're in a "hot streak" are still the same as in the coldest "cold streak". Previous hands do not affect future hands. When you play as many hands as I imagine most people here do, they're going to see lots of hot and cold streaks. Just know that whether you're in a self-proclaimed "hot streak" or "cold streak" you have the same odds as everyone. You don't suddenly become a favorite to hit a flush draw when you're "hot" and you're not suddenly a 30 to 1 underdog when you're cold.

It's a fact that hot and cold streaks happen, but it's all because of random chance, as you can see with the coin flip example. The cards don't remember previous hands, and I have a hard time taking seriously anyone who claims that they do (and Brunson actually says he believes in ESP, if I hadn't seen him play or heard how well he'd done I'd think he was a moron). This big pot winner psychology makes sense, but has anyone actually run some stats in pokertracker or something? It's just as easy to make this claim as the claim that you should play every pot after you win. Guess it would be somewhat hard to do but you could look for hands where the pot was worth over x dollars and there was a SD (x dependent on the stakes you play, maybe 75-100 times BB) and then take a look at the hands after it. I may do that with my hands later. If I do I'll post the results here.
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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This is really about basic human psychology. From this super interesting article:

Prospect Theory:

"PROBLEM I: Imagine the US is preparing for the outbreak of an Asian disease, expected to kill 600 people:
  1. If program A is adopted, 200 people will be saved
  2. If program B is adopted, there is one third probability that 600 people will be saved and two thirds probability that no people will be saved
Think for a moment about which program you would prefer.
When research participants are asked this question, 72% prefer program A and 28% prefer program B. Since the expected-value of program A and program B are equivalent, participants who choose program A can be described as risk-averse, while participants who choose program B are risk-seeking. Thus, on average people seem to be risk-averse by a 3:1 margin for this particular problem. There is nothing wrong with any of this -- yet. Risk-seeking is not inherently more rational or less rational than risk-aversion.
Consider a different problem:
PROBLEM II: Imagine the US is preparing for the outbreak of an Asian disease, expected to kill 600 people:
  1. If program C is adopted, 400 people will die
  2. If program D is adopted, there is one third probability that nobody will die and two thirds probability that 600 people will die
Faced with this problem, 22% of research participants prefer program C and 78% prefer program D. Thus, in problem II research participants seem to be risk-seeking by a 3:1 margin. Take a look back. Program A is structurally identical to Program C, just as program B is structurally identical to program D. Only the framing of the programs is different (i.e. stating that 400 of 600 will die rather than stating that 200 of 600 will be saved). So why do the vast majority opt to gamble in the second problem but not the first?
According to Prospect Theory, as people regard themselves to have made gains, they tend to be less willing to risk losing those gains in exchange for further gains (i.e. they become more risk-averse). This is because subsequent gains bring less satisfaction than previous gains. Conversely, as people regard themselves to have accrued losses, they tend to be more willing to risk further losses in exchange for the opportunity to have lost less (i.e. they become more risk-seeking). This is because further losses don't hurt as much as the initial losses did. In many research studies, the effect of losses on decisions is about twice as strong as the effect of gains."

[TB, you are against the norm and the standard "they are tight when they are busy (stacking)" tell motto]
 
Flops'm&Bets'm

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Interesting read

Interesting Read Ag.!

Thanks for the Link to it!
Will need to ponder it when in 'specific' situations.
The psychology of a player in 'Pot Committed' Situations applies
well in the circumstance.

I have 'X' amounts of chips in my stack, if I bet 500 to win 300, they fold.
I'm up 300. If I have already put 150 in I seem to have over looked that I really only make 150 in taking down the pot. And see 300 as the goal.

If I have 'X' amount of chips in my stack and another player has a bigger stack by 3:1.
I want to somehow get them, without lowering my stack.
If I wager 1/2 my stack and win. I will be where the larger stack is.
If I wager 1/2 my stack and lose. leaving my stack at 1:4 deficit.
I will have to make that 1/2 stack loss back and try again to equal the larger stack.
1:4 then 1:2 then 1:1
When I quantify my stack (double-up) I am risking all for a return.
Negating the loss as a means to a higher goal.
And risking All to perhaps Lose. After thought consequence.
If I have already risked 1/2 then have to risk the rest to achieve my goal
to completion. Well If I have already risked this much and FOLD,
then there is little hope of reaching the 1:1 Goal against my opponent.

Double through to 1:1 and then to 2:1 over my opponents.
I become willing to risk my 2:1 over my opponent at the cost of going back to 1:1 which is not so bad considering I was previously
1:4 underdog.
Or I may take as much as 2:1 risk and still feel.
OK that I have 1:1 with my opponent even if I lose.
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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Interesting Read Ag.!

Thanks for the Link to it!
Will need to ponder it when in 'specific' situations.
The psychology of a player in 'Pot Committed' Situations applies
well in the circumstance.

I have 'X' amounts of chips in my stack, if I bet 500 to win 300, they fold.
I'm up 300. If I have already put 150 in I seem to have over looked that I really only make 150 in taking down the pot. And see 300 as the goal.

If I have 'X' amount of chips in my stack and another player has a bigger stack by 3:1.
I want to somehow get them, without lowering my stack.
If I wager 1/2 my stack and win. I will be where the larger stack is.
If I wager 1/2 my stack and lose. leaving my stack at 1:4 deficit.
I will have to make that 1/2 stack loss back and try again to equal the larger stack.
1:4 then 1:2 then 1:1
When I quantify my stack (double-up) I am risking all for a return.
Negating the loss as a means to a higher goal.
And risking All to perhaps Lose. After thought consequence.
If I have already risked 1/2 then have to risk the rest to achieve my goal
to completion. Well If I have already risked this much and FOLD,
then there is little hope of reaching the 1:1 Goal against my opponent.

Double through to 1:1 and then to 2:1 over my opponents.
I become willing to risk my 2:1 over my opponent at the cost of going back to 1:1 which is not so bad considering I was previously
1:4 underdog.
Or I may take as much as 2:1 risk and still feel.
OK that I have 1:1 with my opponent even if I lose.

In your example of the blinds the $150 you already have in isn't yours anymore, so you ARE winning it. You shouldn't think of blind money as being "yours" after you post it-- it is part of the pot.

I'm not sure your heads up example is a good one, as the situation you describe is almost the opposite of prospect theory: you are saying you would be more risk seeking as the larger stack, but prospect theory says you will be more risk adverse, as more gains bring less satisfaction than previous gains. I suspect that immediately after taking a 2:1 lead you would be very tight, not wanting to give those newly acquired chips back.

Anyone who hasn't read the article in the link should do so-- the main premise is that 'tilt' does not necessarily have to be emotionally driven, as is commonly thought. Simple human psychology regarding risk may be adequate to explaining it.
 
bubbasbestbabe

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Interesting Read Ag.!

Thanks for the Link to it!
Will need to ponder it when in 'specific' situations.
The psychology of a player in 'Pot Committed' Situations applies
well in the circumstance.

I have 'X' amounts of chips in my stack, if I bet 500 to win 300, they fold.
I'm up 300. If I have already put 150 in I seem to have over looked that I really only make 150 in taking down the pot. And see 300 as the goal.

If I have 'X' amount of chips in my stack and another player has a bigger stack by 3:1.
I want to somehow get them, without lowering my stack.
If I wager 1/2 my stack and win. I will be where the larger stack is.
If I wager 1/2 my stack and lose. leaving my stack at 1:4 deficit.
I will have to make that 1/2 stack loss back and try again to equal the larger stack.
1:4 then 1:2 then 1:1
When I quantify my stack (double-up) I am risking all for a return.
Negating the loss as a means to a higher goal.
And risking All to perhaps Lose. After thought consequence.
If I have already risked 1/2 then have to risk the rest to achieve my goal
to completion. Well If I have already risked this much and FOLD,
then there is little hope of reaching the 1:1 Goal against my opponent.

Double through to 1:1 and then to 2:1 over my opponents.
I become willing to risk my 2:1 over my opponent at the cost of going back to 1:1 which is not so bad considering I was previously
1:4 underdog.
Or I may take as much as 2:1 risk and still feel.
OK that I have 1:1 with my opponent even if I lose.

Thanks for changing your font. You have made excellent posts before but they were really hard to read.
 
Flops'm&Bets'm

Flops'm&Bets'm

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Still good!

Thanks for the feedback Ag.
And BBB also
It is trying for me but easier on you so the sacrifice for the sake of 'respect' and the members comfort..I concede...

As for the Theory, I like the premise, and the example I gave was,
agreeably misguided, and I would say that it helps to point out the
Obvious misjudging that happens 'within a players euphoria'
whether it be on TILT or on a 'Rush'...

Thanks for the response in my attempt to convey what I percieved.
 
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