Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Game Selection, Part 1 - Predation

I don't particularly give a shit about trying to beat moderately tough games. I'd rather stay home and jerk off. - Gary Carson

While I don’t necessarily share Mr. Carson’s sentiment exactly, I do agree with what I perceive to be the spirit of his colorful remark. If one wants to be successful at poker, one must cultivate a robust desire to maximize +EV situations. Game selection (i.e. playing with weaker opponents rather than stronger ones) is vital to identifying and creating +EV situations. Plenty of poker luminaries have written (and I agree) that the vast majority of the money one will make playing poker will come from the mistakes of one’s opponents. Therefore, to maximize one’s expected value, one ought to seek games/tables with the greatest volume of weak opponents (and conversely, avoid games with strong ones).

Barry Greenstein says, “Don’t be afraid to back down if you do not like the line up in a game. You should pass on a situation with a small advantage if you can find one with a larger advantage. You don’t need to prove you’re the best. To make money, you just need to find people who play worse than you do.”

Winning money at poker isn’t about finding the toughest game and “proving” one’s self against a group of really good opponents. That may be good for building one’s ego but it’s not a long term strategy for building a bankroll. Besides, what those players think is not the measuring stick one should use to gauge success. I want to consistently win money and increase my poker bankroll. That’s it. No where in the equation is finding real pros, tough games, etc. Now, lest anyone hasten to suggest I am overly results oriented, consider this: anyone that uses online poker software when they play (for anything other than post-game analysis of one’s own play) implicitly agrees with this philosophy because no one uses that software to find the toughest games/opponents available. Show me a game/table with weak players and I will cheerfully play with them every opportunity I get. Take me to a table of really tough pros or semi-pros and I will probably cash out immediately and go find a game I can beat. Understanding and accepting one’s own capabilities, motivation, as well as, limitations will help to identify +EV situations and avoid ones that are –EV.

1 comment:

OhCaptain said...

I like to find a balance in my game. Feed the bankroll with the easy games and take part of the winnings and apply it to the harder games.

Maybe someday finding the harder game is now easy, and moving up methodically.

Great advice and post!