Friday, October 28, 2005

Bad Runs

(this is excerpted from a post I made on the forums)


Bad runs are just a part of poker -- I'm sure Brian can echo that. But...

In my experience, extended bad runs are always more than just the cards not breaking even. The secret to getting out of a bad run is to figure out where your leaks are.

Keep in mind I'm talking about an extended bad run of at least two week. Also, keep in mind that I've only experienced the low limits. I've been playing almost daily for about a year, and every single time I've had a bad run I can trace it to a change in my play. Usually I start by getting unlucky a few times and then change my play to try to compensate. Or, I'll get lucky for a period of time and my play will diverge without me noticing it.

There can be a lot of factors that extend a few bad sessions into a bad run with the biggest one your psychology. Losing even a few sessions can make you change your play to adjust (usually tightening up, but it depends on the person). These adjustments can actually result in worse results, making you try something else to get some wins, etc. Furthermore, make sure you consider factors outside poker -- lack of sleep, stress, and family stuff all makes me play MUCH worse.

SnGs, especially, require a good balance of tightness and aggression at the different phases of the tournament. Oddly enough, as people get better at poker they tighten up and get their money in better -- for SnGs, this can backfire if you aren't being loose enough late in the game. Kind of like as you get better the worse you do Smile Often the new players who don't realize you should call an all-in w/ A4o have less fear and more aggression than someone who's been playing a long time. The result if you aren't aggressive enough (and loose when appropriate) is a lot of frustrating bubble finishes and a lot of bad beats.

What I'm trying to say is, dropping 30-40 buy-ins at $10 SnGs is a lot -- more than just bad luck. I guarantee that analyzing your play will let you move back up successfully. If you don't already, track your finishes with something like Poker Dominator. If it is SnGs, figuring out where you usually exit is a good place to start. For instance, if you usually are out 3rd, 4th, or 5th, you probably need to steal more and be more aggressive on the bubble. It may lower your cashes a little, but it will increase your overall wins as you get more 1st and 2nds.

Another tried and true trick (other than taking a break, which you did) is to change the game or stakes. When I started out Party's 5/1 SnGs were my bread and butter, but I could never really move up to the 10/1s successfully. I've since realized that I wasn't loose and aggressive enough once the blinds went up. After 5-6 losing 5/1s, I decided to try some micro limit NL on PokerStars, and I found I could make a lot more money with a lot less risk (the 6-max $10 NL can be beat easily for $3-$5/hr if you just play solid, which coincidently will lose you a lot of money at SnGs). A lot of it depends on the person and your natural temperament. But definitely track your results so you can find your best game.

Finally, if swings bother you and you want to build a bankroll, I encourage you to get rake-back or deposit bonuses. It helps you recover from some of the negative effects of rake.

Hope this helps -- playing good poker is a constant battle. IMHO the average low-stakes internet player has gotten a lot better this past year as the poker boom slows down. That means we also need to improve to keep an edge.

No comments: