Monday, August 17, 2009

Some quick online poker thoughts (gambling)

With both Full Tilt and Pokerstars having their online poker championships and offering reload bonuses, I jumped back in to play for a little bit. For a full time grinder, these reload bonuses are great. However, for a casual player like me, it takes a long time to clear any bonus. One of the things I wonder about is how many casual players go after the bonus and forget about the bigger picture. For example, a guy like me hasn't played in a long time, but decided to jump back in with the deposit bonus. If the deposit bonus is 100, and I'm up 500, why should I keep playing further to clear the rest of the bonus? I've already done better than the bonus, and I wasn't planning on playing full time to begin with. I wonder how many people (like me) continue on and end up clearing the bonus but with worse overall results.

Another thing I've been wondering about is whether the key to success in online poker is really all about the bankroll and less about the actual skill. I think that's all it really comes down to at the low to medium levels. For example, in a game like heads up pot limit omaha, you can be frequently pushing all in with an average EV of about 45% (with the fold vig) but increase the variance enough that you'll just eventually outlast the opponent with one well-timed suckout. I assume most casual and semi-casual players who sit down to those games don't have more than 6 times the buyin for backup.

One of the things I tried was playing 50+2 turbo double or nothing sit n gos on pokerstars. After 142 of these, I had a 48% strike rate and decided to stop. I really just am not a holdem player. I do still believe that I know what I'm doing for pot limit omaha and pot limit omaha/8. If there are enough requests, I'd be happy to share my thoughts, strategies, and provide a primer for beginners.


Jonathan Weinstein said...

The strategy you describe for the large-bankrolled player will wind up eating the smaller bankroll more often than not -- the problem is that when the large bankroll does lose, his losses are huge. Taking a series of negative EV positions can never be all that great. In the strategy you're describing the median payoff is positive but the average is way negative. In contrast, as the small roller you might be content to usually lose your bankroll but have a hugely positive EV due to potential huge gains.

The Pretender said...

I'm not saying that playing -EV is a solid way to play. Actually I think what I meant to say is that you can play in a way such that EW% = 45% on the hands that push all in and you'd come out ahead with the proper bankroll. In the end, EV involves both the probability of winning and how much you win when you do. The pot size matters and that's where the large bankroll comes in. Most players who play under-rolled also have tendencies such as not leaving when up. This is the thing that the big bankroll exploits. In the end, you only need to hit your 45% once when the pot is big to take everything off your opponent. I'm not saying in fact that winning players have such a low w%, but I'm saying that even if they did I expect them to be a winner with an outsized bankroll because of the increased variance of the pot sizes.

On the flip side are the players known as hit and run short stacks, who are very much frowned upon in the poker world. However, I just view them as taking advantage of their +EW% and lowering the pot size variance by leaving once they double up.