Variance in NLH/PLO - Misconceptions?

WildBullshark

WildBullshark

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Note: I am merely asking for other people's opinions or advice. This is a very common topic and I am hoping someone with a little more experience can help me out with my logic.

Often I argue with other poker players and fellow mathematics students at my university involving the topic of "running bad". I've gathered the following perspectives:

1. There is no such thing as running bad, only playing bad!
2. Over time, percentages even out and a bad string of cards becomes erased by a good string of cards.

Now I believe that there is much validity in these perspectives, and maybe in some extremely rare cases that some people are horribly unlucky over time. However, in games like NLH and PLO where the pot sizes vary so greatly, can these generally accepted outlooks be argued?

Basically, my belief is that often when you are playing NL/PLO that situations arise where you have to gamble, or mathematically it make sense to gamble. Typically winning NLH/PLO players don't play large pots very frequently. However, when these large pots occur, do those results even out over time? Most players will conclude that they do and for the most part I do as well. But, I also think that if you are losing a slightly larger percentage of coin flips in big pots, and winning a slightly larger percentage every coin flip in smaller pots, then your cards could be evening out, but the money won't necessarily.

So, if I have a hand with an x win percentage, and over time I win a reasonably close amount to x%, the cards even out. But at the same time if for most times I win with that hand I am only winning a small pot, and at the same time for most times I lose I am losing a large pot, how can the money even out? This applies more to cases where x is not much larger than 1-x (something like 50-65%).

Again, I know my logic may be flawed but it is something I'm trying to figure out.
 
Schatzdog

Schatzdog

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Okay,

Here's what I think, so take it for what it's worth.

1. There is no such thing as running bad only playing bad. I completely disagree with this. Let's say you flop top set on a two flush board. You and your opponent both get it in on the flop and his flush lands. This happens three/four times in a row (which is fairly reasonable) or substitute any other bad beat. Now you've dropped a few buy-ins but have played "perfect" poker, getting it in with the best. So I think you need to add a time factor to the above statement. If you're a good player you can run bad in the short-term but over the long term making the same decisions and actions leads to a healthy uptrending equity curve.

2. Over time, percentages even out and a bad string of cards becomes erased by a good string of cards. I would say it this way. In the long-run we all get the same cards, making equal number of straights, sets, FH, flushes etc.....The difference between one players P/L over another, generally speaking, will be the difference between what you won with you great hands versus what you lost with your second best hands. Value betting is a huge skill. Equally important is minimising losses when it all goes sour. This is all very general but the range of skills involved in achieving this is extremely wide.

I think your point about the small pot vs big pot / coinflip is valid. But I think this will only be a problem if you consistently play only against short-stacks. Select tables where everyone is deep, or alternatively play as a short-stack yourself.
 
KyleJRM

KyleJRM

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Yes and no.

People sometimes think of their streaks as tangible things that they are in the middle of. "I'm running bad, what should I do?" is a common question. When you have had a bad streak, it is in the past. It has no bearing on what will happen next in the cards, unless you let it change your play. There is a reason they call it "gambler's fallacy."

But the edge for playing right in poker is very small, and there will be a time when you lose a lot of 55% chances in a row for a lot of money. Just look at the winnings graph of any truly good player. They have long swings of ups and downs, even though the long-term trend is up.

However, many people use "running bad" as an excuse for playing bad. If you don't have many thousands of hands saved that show you to be a winning player, there is a good chance you aren't.
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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Poker isn't about winning hands/pots, it's about winning money.

It sounds obvious, but a surprising amount of people don't seem to actually stop and consider its application or real meaning as it relates to the play of the game.
If you win ten $1 pots, but then lose a $16 pot you are 10:1 wins:losses, but you still lost money. Similarly, if you lose ten $1 pots but then win a $16 one you are 1:10 wins to loses, but you are ahead in actual dollars.

As noted, in the long term a weak player will get just as many good cards as an expert player (and just as many bad cards too)-- the "skill" of the player will determine if they come out ahead long term.
 
Chris_TC

Chris_TC

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But, I also think that if you are losing a slightly larger percentage of coin flips in big pots, and winning a slightly larger percentage every coin flip in smaller pots, then your cards could be evening out, but the money won't necessarily.
Well, obviously those situations are also going to even out. This means that in the long run you won't win a larger percentage of smaller pots and a smaller percentage of bigger pots.
Instead, on average you will win 50% of mid-sized pots.

Also, you can certainly run bad without playing badly. Over the last two days I've had 5 situations where I went all-in as a 9:1 on the flop (a set versus an overpair). I lost four of them.
 
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