Stud: Money management concluded

by Adam "STUDstood" Roberts

I would once again like to thank you all for your positive feedback on my blogs, as well as suggestions on what topics to cover and explain further.

Our most recent discussion has been about various forms of money management, both on and off the poker tables. I would like to continue and conclude on that topic this week.

One of the benefits of playing online, as opposed to in a live casino, is having the option to play in multiple games concurrently. The money management strategy I have offered so far applies to each individual session at one specific table. There would be no reason to change those “stop” guidelines whether on the upside or downside, if you are playing in multiple games.

Nevertheless, as a multiple table player, there is also nothing wrong with having a “concurrent multiple game” stop limit, or even a “per day” or “24 hour” one as well.

Although I do realize that playing poker can be looked at as one continuous game, I again recommend doing what is most comfortable for you when it comes to feeling good about your overall play and results. That may translate to using my “per session” money management suggestions, which we have previously covered, or using the concepts I just wrote about. Or you can use variations of them, or combine them.

For instance, if you have been playing for a few hours and find yourself ahead in one game but stuck in another, you may want to apply the single game money management concepts to this multiple game setting, combined.

Or, maybe you would set a loss limit on the downside for a 24 hour period, no matter how many sessions you play in that time frame, or whether you play single or concurrent multiple games. For example, you might set a loss limit of $4,000 per day at the $30/$60 limit, while continuing to use the 20x big bet stop gap “per session” on the down side during that time frame.

Another option is to quit a certain game after achieving your goal either way (up or down) and immediately go to another game. If you have achieved this goal in a relatively short period of time, I see no reason for you not to do this. For instance, you played 2 hours and lost 20x the max bet. As long as you are still fresh and playing well, there is no reason not to go play in another game in the same limit, if it is available.

The potential disaster to this type of strategy is that you may lose another 20x the max bet in the new game, etc. That is why you may want to have some type of overall loss limit over a time limit of a day or so.
I also like to use a “positive expectation” figure for each of my sessions. That translates into how much I expect to make during that session based on the hours I have already put in during that session. For instance, I always come into a game looking to win at least 20x the big bet, while allowing myself that same amount as a maximum to lose.

But, I also tend to lower those numbers as time goes on during each specific session. In other words, if I have already put in three hours in a game (which translates into at least six hours in a live casino game because of the amount of extra hands you are dealt online), I will probably lower my “per session expectation” to where I may quit a winner or loser of 5x the big bet, instead of allowing myself to get to 20x either way, like I did at the beginning of that specific session.

I do this for two main reasons. The first is the as a human being, we are all susceptible to not being as sharp after a few hours of work as we probably were at the beginning of our session. This especially applies to a skill such as poker, since it requires so much more concentration than most other jobs. A lot of times we do not even realize that we are not as sharp any more after a certain time period.

Regardless of your style of play, you will usually get a 20x the big bet “decision” either way within 2-3 hours online. If that hasn’t happened, then you may want to lower your limits on both ends.

In addition to adding this type of limit so as not letting it affect your acuity at the table, it will also enable you to come back the next day or a few hours later totally fresh, as opposed to having gotten burnt out by putting in too many non-quality hours, especially if you ended up losing a big amount for that session after doing so. The point is to not let yourself get sucked into a bad situation, as letting yourself play for too long increases the likelihood of this happening. So set realistic limits, and when you reach them, quit.

A number of you have asked me “How long can a streak last, both good and bad?” My friends, this is an eternal question which has no definitive answer. We have all obviously seen huge streaks, both good and bad, over a few hours, days, and even weeks, which we clearly remember and leaves us “scratching our heads” as to how it was possible. But it is possible.

What’s most puzzling is when this streak plays the opposite of its expectation, like when a good player has a prolonged bad streak, or when a bad player “runs good” and wins for an extended period. Both things do happen in a random game, and there is no telling when they will start or end. That is why I have used the 2,000 hour minimum at a specific limit and game to determine what someone is “most likely” to average in his/her results in that limit and type of game.

There is no particular mathematical reason I chose that number of hours. It may actually be a lot more, but certainly no less. The longer you play, the less “luck” plays into anyone’s results.

I can clearly remember prolonged streaks (both good and bad) that defied any “normal” mathematical logic. While luck tends to even out over time, it may not, completely; witnessing these (as well as other natural phenomena unrelated to poker) has left me no other choice but to believe that there are some people who are just luckier or unluckier than others. While luck may not be “controlled” in any particular way, a “lifetime” may not be long enough for luck to “even out”; some people will just get luckier than others, in life and in poker. In my 20 years in this business, I have seen many extreme results for some players, on both the upside and downside.

There are many excellent poker players who are out of action, even though they followed proper money guidelines both on and off the tables, and played their cards well. That is because they fall into that (estimated) 1- 2% group of poker players who are just ran too unlucky to win.

On the flip side, I have seen other players win lots of money for long periods of time doing a lot of “incorrect” things, both on and off the table. They fall into the top (estimated) 1-2% of the “luck factor”.
Most likely you will fall into the 98-99% of people who, if they follow the suggested guidelines, will have results that are within the statistical norm.

An interesting side of this is that most people do not realize when they are getting inordinately lucky. They feel that is was their “skill” which enabled them to win. I call this the “Mr. Magoo Effect”; things just go well for them, no matter what they do. It’s important to not put too much value on the skill in short term winning, or to take short-term losses personally. Luck is part of the game.

In addition to spreading consistent games at the $10/$20 and $30/$60 limits in the Stud, Stud Hi/Lo, and Razz sections, every weekend we are now offering weekly $215 buy-in tournaments with guaranteed prize pools, in each of those games.

Please check the Tourney > Special lobby to see when they begin in your time zone.

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Brad Willis
@BradWillis in Strategy