“I haven’t been a winning poker player in 3 years.”
“I have to be a winner at 25nl before I move up to bigger stakes, right?”
I recently heard those two statements. Something about poker muddies the water for otherwise common sense concepts.
In theory, at this moment, breathes a worst poker player in the world and a best poker player in the world. The worst we may call a losing player; the best we may call a winning player. Every poker player in between determines whether they’re a winning or losing player.
The second worse player in the world may choose only to play poker with the worst. In this case, the second worse player in the world is a winning player.
The second best player in the world may choose only to play poker with the best. In this case, the second best player in the world is a losing player.
When someone says, “I’ve not been a winning player in years.” Four possibilities come to my mind.
#1. This player is looking at results over a sample. Perhaps he’s playing with worse players, but running into negative variance over this sample.
#2. This player is making poor game selection decisions. Imagine I tell you, “I’ve not been a winning chess player in years.” You ask me where I typically play, and I respond, “I only compete in the world chess championship each year.” The problem is obvious. For some reason, this problem is less apparent to poker players.
#3. This player is sitting with worse players, but becomes a worse player after sitting. Being a better poker player is not a static status. You may be better than your opponent at this moment in time; however, perhaps some alcohol, tilt, or distraction will change your relative status.
#4. This player has an unrealistic definition of a winning poker player. What do you think a winning poker player is? Does it mean over a large sample the player leaves the table with more money that he brought to the table? Or does it mean he takes more from his opponents than vice versa? “I have to be a winner at 25nl before I move up to bigger stakes, right?” This statement came from a student of mine a few weeks back. I was watching him play in a 25nl game. I know the game has an unusually high rake. Further, none of his opponents seemed incredibly unskilled. I imagined I could beat those players. I could take more money from them than they would from me. However, I’m quite certain I couldn’t beat them for more than the rake. Make that a 2/4 game, and I might come away with more money than I started with. Am I a winning player in the 25nl game? Semantics. Regardless, if making money is my goal, sitting in that 25nl game is failing. Making distinctions about stakes is typically nonsense. There are good/bad games at all stakes. Find good games with stakes that fit inside your bankroll constraints.
If coming out with more money is a winning poker player and you want to be a winning poker player, play better than your opponents at a rate that outpaces the rake. This requires game selection skills. This requires staying on your game during play.
After you’ve accomplished the goal of being a winning player, now you get to see how much green you make per hour. Decide if your time is best spent elsewhere if only an hourly rate is your goal.
Because, hey…there are others guys who have a goal of simply having a good time and not losing too much money while doing it. The leave the table down money…and a winner.
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