As we have become more settled in the bay area, I have gotten back to somewhat of a poker routine.
I play 80-160 limit hold’em at the Bay 101 and take a few poker trips to other places to play. That will include a decent amount of time at the LAPC in February.
Most recently, I went to Thunder Valley, just north of Sacramento, to play the WSOP circuit main event that was there. I had the pleasure of entering the tournament the maximum amount of times and not cashing. There were 2 day 1 flights and you could reenter one time each day. So I was 0-4. That wasn’t much fun.
After the tournament, I was talking to some of the local tournament players and they just couldn’t believe that I hadn’t cashed in the event. I heard thinks like:
“You played 4 times and didn’t cash?”
“I made the final table in 7 of the last 9 tournaments I played”
Some of these conversations were relatively enlightening as to misconceptions people have about tournament results and how obtainable they are.
The reality is that only 10-15% of the field gets paid in most major tournaments. So a guy that cashes an average amount of the time will cash 1 out of 8 tournaments. The most profitable pros cash at about 1.5x the average rate. At a 12% payout rate, that equates to 18 cashes out of 100. If you mapped it out evenly, that would have many many 4 tournament streaks with out a cash. Then consider that sometimes people will cash 3 out of 4 events. That leaves 15 cashes for the other 96 event. Then the gaps grow bigger.
The hardest part about trying to be results oriented when you are playing poker is the amount of time required for the results to be statistically significant. If you are supposed to have something happen 1 out of 8 times, and it happens 1 out of 8, does that suddenly make you average? Maybe you got unlucky? Maybe you got lucky? How many groups of 8 does it take before it is a reasonable representation of your play? 5? 10? 50?
In the short term, the results aren’t the best measure of your success. For me, I focus on the decisions. Was I in good spots? (mostly) Could things have gone worse? (no) Could things have gone better? (much)
My first bullet, I got all-in 3 ways with top two pair. One player had a gutshot and a flush draw. The other player had top pair and a bigger kicker. I had 50% equity in a 3 way pot. That is a lot of edge. I had one guy covered and the other guy had me covered. Unfortunately, the biggest stack won and I was out…
My second bullet, I got all-in in a heads up situation. We both had about the starting stack and it was a little later in the tournament. I raised with AQ second to act at a 9 handed table and was called in 4 spots. When the flop came QJ9 rainbow, the blind checked to me and I bet about 1/3 of the pot. It folded to the button who visibly couldn’t decide what to do. He eventually min raised and looked not happy about it. The blind folded and I moved all-in. My bet and the min raise was about 40% of the effective stack, so the next bet was a natural all in size. My opponent looked distressed and called with the KQ. I had thought it was very likely he had a pair and a straight draw of some kind based on the way he was acting before he raised. I was a 73-27 favorite and didn’t win.
On day 2, I played twice again. The first bullet I got short when someone made a full house and I made a flush. Never fun. Then I went bust in a 50-50 spot. The second bullet went quickly. I lost half my chips the very first hand I got dealt. At 200-400/50 a player opened to 1050, I reraised to 3200 with AKdd. They went all in for 9900 of the 20k starting stack. I called. They had AA. I lost. Then an hour or so later, at 300/600/75, the button made it 1500 and I was in the BB with 8k and Q9. I thought the player on the button had a pretty wide range and would likely fold a lot of it, so I went all-in. They had AA and called. I lost.
That night when I was looking back at the play, I was mostly happy with the situations I was in. I would have done the same things again. That last sentence is a big one. Would you make the same plays in the same spots again? You can ask your friends if they would do the same things in your situations too. If the answers are yes, you are probably playing fine without worrying about the results too much.
Some of you are probably thinking the Q9 was a little fishy, but I think it works out ok in the long run. I only have 11 BBs if I fold and need to start to find spots to chip up. But that can be a topic for a different post.