Downswings. Turns out they suck.
Hey, it’s Ron – the only amateur poker player here at the Poker Academy.
2018 has been a good poker year for me so far, but I recently hit a speed bump.
I don’t know if I’d call it a downswing, but more on that later.
How do you know if you’re playing bad or running bad when your hours and hands are limited? That’s a tough question to answer.
You see, most pros – especially online pros, think about their stats in terms of thousands of hands played. For online pros, it can be tens or even hundreds of thousands of hands. In other words, you need a large data set to really analyze how good you are at poker.
That’s nearly impossible for a recreational player like me. In a good month, I might be able to get in 20 hours of poker. Not in a week, in a month. Online poker is illegal in Washington state, so I’m playing live in card rooms, casinos, or home games.
Most estimates for live play is that you are dealt 25-30 hands per hour. I think that’s optimistic, at least in the rooms I play in. I’d love to see a hand every two minutes. But let’s go with it as an assumption.
So most likely I’m playing about 1000-1200 hands per month. That’s not very much.
All this to say that it would be relatively inaccurate to say that I can make any long term conclusions about my game with as few hands that I play.
So what should I do?
Here’s how I try and look at it.
First I track all my sessions. I use an app on my iPhone. Just clock in, enter the buy-in amount, stakes, and location – then clock out when I’m done.
Next, I pay attention to if I was on tilt in that session? For me that means playing too many hands from all positions, trying to get revenge against someone that beat me in a pot, or getting angry when my bad decisions aren’t working. When I spot any of these behaviors, I take a note of it.
After that I obey my stop loss. Before I start a session, I have a stop loss number. For me it’s two buy-ins. If I blow through that, I’m done for the day. That’s it for me. I’ve found that it usually doesn’t get magically better for me on my third or fourth bullet. So I just walk away.
And finally, I will write down hands that I struggled with and go through them away from the table. Most of the time I can easily spot the error of my ways. If I’m still unclear, I’ll talk the hand over with some poker friends.
I’d like to think that I’m a winning player. So far, my 2018 stats say that I am. But before I declare it definitively, I’m going to need to play a lot more hands.
Hope you run good!