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  • Variance or good play?

    Posted by outfocusmetal on March 15, 2023 at 3:39 am

    I don’t play enough to have a big lot of data to look over, and the live games I play in are wild so it’s often tough to work out how good a play was.

    Is there a good strategy to analyse if my wins and losses are the product of good play, or just variance that everyone gets to enjoy from time to time?

    As an example of the wild live play – there are often people at the table I’ve never played before, and their play could be either total amateur or excellent maneuvers.

    A newbie on Monday calls me from the blind, then check/call/check/calls decent bets on a scary board before leading the river. The river card completed any Broadway straight draws.

    So his check and calls could have been bad play chasing the draw, as he didn’t have the odds and got no value when I folded.

    But if he’s smart and was floating with air, appreciated the danger of the J on the river and knew my range only had a couple of straight draws in, then he’s a fantastic player and I donked a bunch of chips as I’d have adjusted to this with more info on him.

    Also, the blinds are fast and brutal in these games so variance is high already.

    outfocusmetal replied 1 year, 4 months ago 3 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • fivebyfive

    March 15, 2023 at 8:24 am

    This is one of those age-old questions that is tough to answer. Am I lucky or good? Am I unlucky or just bad? It is one of the reasons I do like playing online—you can’t hide your bad decisions from yourself (if you care to look), but there are also ways to see when you are running hot or cold.

    Live players don’t have that luxury, so the only thing we can do is track and analyze our decisions. Take notes! In the situation you describe, what have you seen from this player? Are they calling a lot postflop? Have you seen any showdowns? What do they reveal? Have they raised much or do they mostly call? Have they ever limped? Would this kind of player who has done these other things take this line for value? This can help you identify the player type and adjust your approach. But mostly, you take notes so you can analyze later. Bring hands to these forums. Check them online. Ask friends.

    When I first started, I used to track how many flips I won and lost, as if there was some kind of cosmic scoreboard—and I was either due for a win or ripe for a loss. I’ve stopped that long ago. Variance is part of the game and asking yourself “am I lucky or good?” is counterproductive; rather ask yourself can the decision I made stand up to scrutiny? Can I make a better decision next time? The rest will work itself out.

  • elvida

    March 15, 2023 at 8:40 am

    So in addition to Chris’ comments, I would add one thing. You should think not about your performance in terms of hand outcomes, but rather, how comfortable you were in making your decisions for each hand. This avoids the variance/lack of hand reveal trap. The more times you know what you are supposed to do and comfortable with whatever action your opponent takes, then you have an idea you are doing well. The more often you are in a blender or have no idea how you should respond to the board or your opponent’s actions, or what the bet size should be, then the the less well you are doing. It is not an absolute measure, but you will be able to compare your performance over time. You will probably never be entirely comfortable, but hopefully less uncomfortable ….

    Hope that helps!

  • fivebyfive

    March 15, 2023 at 10:42 am

    Oh and absent any other info, if a “newbie” takes a check/call/check/call lead river line on a 4-liner to a straight, I’m running for the hills absent a reason not to. They always have it.

  • outfocusmetal

    March 16, 2023 at 3:04 am

    Thank you both! I’ve got a WhatsApp group that I share the killer hands in, but will open this up to a lot more analysis to really get down into the more run-of-the-mill hands.

    I generally feel comfortable with all my play when live, it’s rare I’m in a spot that I haven’t got a clue about.

    I think my biggest doubt is how often I have to pay for information, and when the blinds are running hyper turbo that can often mean my night is over pretty fast. So putting it down into words right now, I think my biggest improvement will be letting others pay for that information and doing my best to take mental notes so I’m prepared when I’m in the hand.

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