Monday, June 20, 2011


Just a random short thought regarding a skill/tool you really need to have in order to play poker successfully; armor. Some people call it thick skin, but I think that's a little bit off. What you really need is actual armor, that can withstand a lot of punishment. As best I can tell the only way to get it is to actually take the punishment and survive, thereby increasing your armor's thickness by a small fraction. Or I suppose you could just be born with it. The $19K downswing I took towards the end of May and yesterday's 6 rack party have gone a long way towards strengthening my armor. In a sick way I feel almost proud to have gone through it, like a badge of honor or something. The Big Potato lamented to me recently that by moving down from 40 to 30 at HG his armor was actually weakening, since he wasn't having to come home stuck 3 or 4 thousand once a week. In a way obviously he was enjoying it, but in a sense he was aware that the short term luxury was bad for his long term goals.

The more I'm at this the more I'm learning that you need to build up resistance to these swings, because they only get worse as you get better and have smaller and smaller relative edges in larger and larger games. I said it recently on 2p2, but if losing $20K will make you quit poker forever, and that will always be the case, you can never safely move up to 40/80. It's just a 100% sure fire way for you to quit forever, eventually. I used to count wins and losses in hundreds; now I count them in thousands. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I felt like writing more and this seemed interesting enough.

Another point I made to Private Joker recently was that as a professional poker player, if you're going to lose $20K, it's much better to do it in a week than a year. The reasons are obvious, but if you think about it for just 3 seconds (and not 10) it seems preposterous. It's completely true though. Breaking even forever is really the way to run yourself out of this game; consistently putting yourself into profitable situations where you can win or lose (relatively) big is the way to stay in it and succeed. I wish someone had been able to explain that to me 3 years ago.

1 comment:

Steve said...

The shorter time period is clearly better, assuming it doesn't increase the posterior probability that you're actually a worse player. Assuming you're still an winner in the game, your expected pnl for the year is 51 weeks of positive expectancy - 20k after a week and just -20k after a year.