Luck In Poker: How Necessary Is It To Win And Best Tournament Types?

Markus SMarkus S Red Chipper Posts: 5
Hey everyone, I just joined and I've been learning a ton, but I had a question in regards to luck in poker I wanted to run by you guys.

Obviously running good is necessary to win, however in terms of difference makers, I wanted thoughts on how important each one truly is. Basically I'm looking for some more intricate insight into how important each category is, so let's get to it

1.Flopping a set AND then getting action on it while maintaining the best hand

2.Getting action on your queens, kings and aces and having them hold up

3.Flopping good with your 10s, Js, AKs and AQs

4.Getting good hands in position

5.Making your straights and flushes

6.Having your opponents fold to your bluffs

7.Having over pairs (AK vs AQ) or over pocket pairs

8.Winning races

9.Having your opponents fold when you miss your AQ/AK and you bet out

Over the long run, good players will naturally make money as over the course of thousands of hands, they will maximize value while minimizing losses in controllable situations, but what I'm trying to understand is if any of the more mathematically minded individuals have ever quantified these situations in terms of importance.

I.e if you don't get calls on your QQ/KK/AA, your sets and you don't experience at least one crazy opponent who just gives up his chips unprompted (mediocre hand or terrible all in), your odds of doing well go down XYZ% or a multiple of XYZ#

I understand this is a bit of a weird thread, but I think any discussion on the topic would be helpful to me. It's the thoughts in this thread that lead me to believe that the best tournaments to play would be deep, long (12-15 minute blinds) SNAP rebuys/addons as:

1.It would maximize donkage in players playing WAY too loose and most players are already playing WAY too loose to begin with (had a guy call my 3 bet with k7 off and then go all in on a72)

2.It would allow you to be more liberal in pocket pairs you call all ins with to race knowing that if you lose you can always rebuy, it also allows you to push with certain draws you might have to let go because if you make them, then you can tighten up afterwards (after you get paid)

3.It takes advantage of poorer bankrolls that can't afford the rebuys and addons in that most of these tournaments essentially allow you to start in the top 10%, also some players are dumb enough to rebuy 3-4x, but never consider just starting with those chips to begin with (i.e rebuying 2k 4x vs rebuying 4k 2x or in some tournaments starting with 6k)

4.In SNAP I can play 5-6 hands per minute and pretty much end up with 500+ hands

So I guess to make it as simple as possible, do you think any of the numbers in the first list are more or less important and which are the most important "force multipliers" that would enable one to do very well in tournaments. I would love it if someone would try and quantify them, even if it's speculative, it would be interesting to think about as in 1-3=at least 20% of what you need to win a tournament or increase your chances of winning by 1.5x, 4-7 increase by 2.5x if repeated 2-3x over 2-300 hands. Also what do you guys think of my theory about tournaments? Spot on, off or totally stupid?

Thanks for reading!

MS

Comments

  • tripletiretripletire Red Chipper Posts: 323 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2017
    You left out a couple I'd like to add in:

    10) A healthy number of fit/fold opponents

    11) Generally, predictable opponents. I can form very deep runs by taking advantage of the money bubble coming up and all of the recreational players tightening up way too much.


    I really don't know how to take a shot at quantifying this, a bright mind make some great things happen with a giant database and be able to figure this out. I don't think it's entirely necessary to focus on either, as our money comes from opportunity and the capitalization on said opportunity, we have to control what we can and let the variance flow.
  • kageykagey Red Chipper, KINGOFTAGS Posts: 2,241 ✭✭✭✭✭
    If you're asking if there's luck in poker... esp. tournament poker... there's no doubt that there is. If I recall correctly, in the One Drop tournament that Antonio binked, the broadcast showed that he had been dealt a higher percentage of premium starting hands .... even more than the whole table combined! Plus, his position on Guy & Hellmuth at the final table didn't hurt either.

    So in a tournament: who's at your table, your position at the table, the number of good starting hands, the number of times you get paid holding a good hand...all that stuff does make a difference yet is out of your control.

    BUT...
    that said... over your lifetime, you'll probably get into situations where it will be your turn to run above average, be seated at a soft table, win races, cooler other players with worse hands, etc... so there's really no point in wasting energy thinking about if or when it will happen... The more you play, the more results will even out.

    Heck, take Mr. Main Event Chris Moneymaker... he ran like God and even coolered Phil Ivey at the final table with a one-outer! Since 2003, how many more bracelets has he scored? I think the answer rhymes with gyro.... ultimately, it goes both ways.

    Tommy Angelo talks about this with reciprocality... it's how you manage to lose less when your opponent has you coolered... and how you manage to win the most when he doesn't.

    I don't know if or how you can quantify it, because there are so many variable in poker that IF you had done "X" or IF your opponent had experienced "Y"... you would have gotten a totally different result.... which then would change every result after that... kind of like that butterfly effect.
    When you take a serious look at poker - or the hands you win big pots - a LOT of things have to go a certain way for you win... much more than just the starting hand.

    So to answer your question... yeah, there's luck involved. But there's also a reason why some players are consistent winners in the game... they focus on the skill and damn be the results.
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    I like this thread a lot and relates to one I started the other day. I've been on a particularly bad run the last four months. It feels like I haven't won a tournament-turning hand in ages. Even the cash sessions I've played, any good results I've managed, have come from well-chosen bluff spots and relatively solid board reading. Most of the time, by SD, I've been losing, whether going into the hand ahead, flipping or behind.

    It has given me a chance to think a lot about luck. I have been playing poker for a long time and I do spend a lot of time off table working on my game - not as much as some, and with a talent that isn't as natural as others - but I feel comfortable at a live poker table and generally I know what is the right decision in most spots, or I can fairly quickly identify what I did wrong in retrospect. No expect, but I think I'm a solid ABC player with some incite into deeper strategy. There will always be room for improvement and growth.

    Having said that, I think there is way more luck involved in this game than we give it credit. I think we tell ourselves, "In the long run, everyone's luck converges, and when it does, skill wins out." I don't think this is necessarily true. I think in the long run, the AVERAGE of everyone's luck will converge, but like all things in life, this is a spectrum, and some of us will be more "lucky" and some of us will be less lucky. Some of us will be incredibly lucky for their whole lives and others not at all.

    And further, it makes sense that given finite resources, those who last longer in poker likely will have more "luck" than those who don't. Those who don't either go broke or stop playing, because the frustration of, day after day, making their way to the poker room, sitting down, playing for hours and then busting in bad spots can wear you down.

    Note: many people play for the enjoyment of the experience and don't care that much about results. Totally different crowd, but they are a huge effect on the thinking player's results.

    In poker and other games with randomization, there is a skill factor and there is a luck factor. For many players, their luck factor will outweigh their skill factor and overbalance their results. You can certainly increase your skill factor, but at a certain point I believe that becomes capped. You see in forums, when players give advice on hands -- perfectly good players many times will disagree on a spot and they will both make excellent argued reasons why their reason for play is sound. I think skill converges in the same way that luck does, on the average, and I'm not sure we have as much control over that as we think we do. There are a lot of biases involved in poker - hindsight bias, confirmation bias, loss aversion, results oriented thinking, etc - and we all try to see past them when we work on our games, but anyone who has read books like Thinking, Fast and Slow will understand how hard removing those biases from our thinking can be.

    As for the luck factor, I've yet to discover a way to manipulate that in the same way we can skill. I don't think increasing your skill necessarily changes your current luck factor - it should just reduce its effect. But all the skill in the world won't cancel out luck entirely and if we agree that in the long term some people are going to be less lucky than others, then the most skilled but unlucky player possibly could see themselves losing.

    I don't know if our luck factor something we're born with or if it comes and goes or if it's just a random force of nature. It is as mysterious as the gods, I guess. For some of us, it might affect our game marginally in the long run. For others, it becomes much more of a factor than skill.

    Someone has to win at poker. Those who have gotten lucky at key points and continue playing will be more likely to continue being successful. Those who didn't get lucky at the right points in a tournament or a career are less likely to keep playing.

    From what I can see, the smartest poker players are those who's luck factor are better than the rest, who's skill factors are greater than the reat, and who are able to express they way they place such that they can sell their play style either in coaching, making videos or writing books. At the end of the day, THAT is where the most reliable +EV is -- selling advice to those of us trying desperately to figure out how this frustrating, fascinating game works.
  • moishetreatsmoishetreats Red Chipper Posts: 1,819 ✭✭✭✭
    People aren't lucky or unlucky. When an event happens, it is not due to the "luck factor" of a person. It is random and independent of other random events.

    That doesn't change the fact that some people will have a series of beneficial random events, despite the odds against that, and that some people will have a series of harmful random events, despite the odds against that.

    Our mindset, though, needs to stay away from lucky and unlucky people. Our play puts us in a position to maximize the likelihood of a beneficial random event and minimize the likelihood of a harmful random event. That's it, nothing more.

    *Note: our play also includes capitalizing on the perception that OTHERS have of us as "lucky" or "unlucky". As such, I am quick to highlight how "lucky" or "unlucky" I have been in a live session where my cards are shown. But, that is using the "luck" fallacy as strategy against opponents but not buying into it myself.
  • Dean MDean M Red Chipper Posts: 184 ✭✭✭
    *Note: our play also includes capitalizing on the perception that OTHERS have of us as "lucky" or "unlucky". As such, I am quick to highlight how "lucky" or "unlucky" I have been in a live session where my cards are shown. But, that is using the "luck" fallacy as strategy against opponents but not buying into it myself.

    So true! The top 3 or 4 players in my 'most frequented' poker room always highlight this " I just got lucky a few times" when someone mentions their huge stack of chips. The first couple of times I heard it I thought to myself "no, I watched those hands and you clearly exploited other players weaknesses"

    That said, variance is a bitch when a run of bad cards and suck-outs never seems to end. How long can variance run negative? In actuality, for a single person, for their lifetime. Realistically it won't, but it could.

    Even after you flip a coin 10,000 times and it comes up tails every time... it's still only 50/50 to come up heads the next flip.

  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    @moishetreats Whether you call it "lucky" or "unlucky" or "beneficial events" or "unbeneficial events," I think it's basically the same thing. And as you point out, some people will experience more of one than the other, and ON AVERAGE we all get the same amount, but individually we will experience widely divergent levels of each.

    Variance can run longer than you can play in your life, at least if you're playing tournament poker, at least that's what one pro taught me and I have no reason not to believe that. I've seen horrible run bad graphs that span 10s of thousands of hands. Online play might approach evening out the variance, but even then the will always be black swans.

    And @moishetreats yes for sure your skill can maximize the beneficial situations, but it won't erase it. That's essentially my point - no matter how good we are, we cannot absolutely be sure low variance/beneficial events/good luck will happen to us in the future.
  • moishetreatsmoishetreats Red Chipper Posts: 1,819 ✭✭✭✭
    And @moishetreats yes for sure your skill can maximize the beneficial situations, but it won't erase it. That's essentially my point - no matter how good we are, we cannot absolutely be sure low variance/beneficial events/good luck will happen to us in the future.

    Agreed. I was responding to the language of a "lucky / unlucky PERSON". That's what I don't believe exists.

    And the reason that I prefer "random" to "luck" is that the latter is a word laden with a sense of justice or injustice whereas the former -- and poker -- have no justice or injustice in reality. Of course, that's more of a semantic difference than anything else. It's the point in the first sentence that is central.
  • Dean MDean M Red Chipper Posts: 184 ✭✭✭
    I played fairly well over the weekend and the $2/$5 game had some really spewey players... I didn't get any of it. Lost $700 on Saturday, came back Sunday with a clear head and positive mindset... lost $800

    Decided to go to another room last night and play $1/$2. Sat down at a really loose table (opens to $15 would get 5 calls, lots of straddling to juice pots).

    Sat patiently for a few orbits, get AK in SB - $6 straddle w/4 callers, I make it $30, 3 callers.
    Flop (~100) :Ad:Kc:2D:
    Hero(~270) :Ac:Kd bets $70
    Villian - Button (~250) calls

    Turn(~240) :Ts
    Hero(~200) bets $120, villian shoves, hero calls.

    River :7d Villian turns over :3d:4d says, "Sorry, I just couldn't fold my straight flush draw"

    I top off my stack and shortly afterward get all in with broadway on the turn, board pairs and villian's set turns into a boat.

    another losing session - almost $600
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭

    Agreed. I was responding to the language of a "lucky / unlucky PERSON". That's what I don't believe exists.

    And the reason that I prefer "random" to "luck" is that the latter is a word laden with a sense of justice or injustice whereas the former -- and poker -- have no justice or injustice in reality. Of course, that's more of a semantic difference than anything else. It's the point in the first sentence that is central.

    100% behind this specificity, although the problem with random of course is it isn't specific to good randomness or bad randomness. It's just random, which I understand is your point - we value load the random event - but at the same time we are playing a game with stated purpose, so to achieve our goal we have to value load the event!

    But I do like your point about justice and injustice. This is what I'm struggling with as I curse a deck of cards after yet another bad beat. It's ridiculous and futile. And from the stories I heard around the table last week, I'm definitely not alone!
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    @Dean M You can console yourself that you played the flush properly, not giving the right price, and buddy still called. But no matter how well you play it and how poorly v plays, 1 in 4 times you lose. And it's shocking how many times 1 in 4 times can fall, over and over :-)
  • Dean MDean M Red Chipper Posts: 184 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2017
    @zmpana1970 so true... I had a run of sessions in November like I've never seen - it was like I couldn't lose. I think I had 20 winning sessions in a row and pulled 10k out of my bankroll to do some home repairs, pay some bills, etc. Then had a break even month in Dec., a losing month in Jan & Feb - first time in my 6 yrs playing I had 2 losing months in a row.

    Which brought me to RCP questioning my game :) March was profitable, April was pretty good until the last couple of days.

    I'm way too results oriented :)
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    This is the essence of the thread, in my mind. What in our play can be attributed to skill and what to random/lucky/variance. This is by far the hardest thing I've had to get my head around in the game - the math and hand reading and range construction and texture analysis and pot sizing and all that is a piece of cake compared to trying to figure out if a long run of losing is because of particularly poor play or if it's just a long string of unfortunate results. I've been playing a long time and I still can't logically wrap my head around that problem.
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    Actually going back to the title of this thread, I will make a somewhat bold statement that I've come to believe is very true. You can win a poker tournament with no skill and all "luck," but you can't win a tournament with all skill and no "luck." You HAVE to get lucky to win, at least a couple times, and in very specific points.
  • Dean MDean M Red Chipper Posts: 184 ✭✭✭
    the math and hand reading and range construction and texture analysis and pot sizing and all that is a piece of cake compared to trying to figure out if a long run of losing is because of particularly poor play

    I don't think I can agree with that - I think working on your game is not easy, that's why few people do it. That's where I want my edge to be because you need a big edge when it's such a 'sum negative' game. Facing the negative variance is where mental toughness comes in and only the strong survive... Much the same in life, business, relationships, etc.
    You can win a poker tournament with no skill and all "luck," but you can't win a tournament with all skill and no "luck." You HAVE to get lucky to win, at least a couple times, and in very specific points.

    True, but who want's to be a one hit wonder that relies on 'luck' to maybe hit (just go buy lottery tickets)

    Skill and mental toughness put you in the right position many more times to take advantage of the huge 'opportunities' that arise in both tournaments and cash games to post overall profitability.
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    @Dean M I don't disagree with what you say, I guess I just go back to my original posit that luck/random/variance has a much bigger effect on our results than we are likely to accept, and that no amount of skill and study will trump a (sometimes very long) run of bad variance. Maybe this is obvious but for me it's become a struggle to deal with.
  • driller1driller1 Red Chipper Posts: 27 ✭✭
    Most honest poker books will have a chapter or section on how to deal with downturns. Ed Miller has written that he can't tell how successful a poker player is based on results for literally years because it is impossible to know whether or not a player has been running good or is skillful. Everything I have read in books or on various forums tells me that it is possible for even very good players to go on months long downturns. Knowing how to read hands and pick up live tells will not insure that you will always win. If you can't accept that, you shouldn't play poker.
  • Dean MDean M Red Chipper Posts: 184 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2017
    Long story made short... Why worry about something you can't change?

    Expending mental energy on something you have no control over just causes a paralysis of action and only action can make you better - whether in poker, career, relationships, etc.
  • joesizejoesize Red Chipper Posts: 119 ✭✭



    *Note: our play also includes capitalizing on the perception that OTHERS have of us as "lucky" or "unlucky". As such, I am quick to highlight how "lucky" or "unlucky" I have been in a live session where my cards are shown. But, that is using the "luck" fallacy as strategy against opponents but not buying into it myself.


    To me, this is the most important idea in this thread.
  • Daniel LDaniel L Red Chipper Posts: 33 ✭✭
    Dean M wrote: »
    Long story made short... Why worry about something you can't change?

    Expending mental energy on something you have no control over just causes a paralysis of action and only action can make you better - whether in poker, career, relationships, etc.

    Vary your style to match your (inherent or acute) variance appetite. Nothing wrong with leaving a spot that might be EV+ but high variance if you know coming off worse will cause tilt. I suppose helping to make your own 'luck'....

  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    I agree generally @Dean M -- why worry about what you can't control. But we do have to be aware with how little control we might have. This goes beyond poker of course and into the heart of the american dream - that anyone who works really hard will in the long run succeed. As it turns out, this is not true. Only those who work really hard and maximize their luck MIGHT succeed.

    I haven't read it yet but this is at the top of my reading list -

    Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26597345-success-and-luck
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 5,001 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I would read The Poker Tournament Formula by Arnold Snyder to calculate the luck factor in various tournament structures.
  • moishetreatsmoishetreats Red Chipper Posts: 1,819 ✭✭✭✭
    I love this thread -- thank you to everyone for participating!!

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Emoji
Image
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file