Re- How Do You Win? Part 4 (Long!)

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Sgt. Rock

Jun 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/29/99
In article <>, (CAMILLE Visconti) asks:
> { do you win?...]
Some things you might do (or even just think about) to help
win at poker might be:

1. Find (or create) a Delta Factor.
2. Emulate Treebark.
3. Beware (but learn from) the OTBS.
4. Be both intellectually AND emotionally prepared for "Luck."
======= ======= ======= ======= ======= =======
4. Intellectual and Emotional Preparation versus "Luck"

The "Intellectual" part pertains to theory, strategy, math, and
even the psychological components of winning play, and I leave
discussions of those topics to the many posters and authors
whose knowledge and experience eclipse mine. It is interesting,
though, how some experts with VERY STRONG intellects seem to
display childish emotional weaknesses that degrade their play.

As for "Emotional" preparation:

We often hear players bemoaning their bad luck. We often see
players trying to "change their luck" by demanding deck changes,
changing seats, sitting out hands, etc., etc. One Vegas pro
wisely said that "Changing the deck to change your luck is like
changing the air in your tires to get a better ride," or words
to that effect.

Why You Might Think that the Net Effect of Luck is Zero

For any roll of dice, spin of a wheel or turn of cards, there is
an expected result. One can generally calculate the
probability that a particular event will occur. Luck, in a
gambling context, is simply a short-term deviation from that
expected result. Say that you placed ten consecutive $1 bets on
RED in a double-zero roulette game, and won seven of those
bets. You took 5.26% the worst of it, and faced and expected
loss of $ 0.52, but GOT LUCKY and won $ 4.00 anyway.

Conversely, say you back-counted, and placed ten consecutive
$25.00 blackjack bets in situations where you were getting
2.00% the best of it, but say you lost seven of those bets.
Even though you enjoyed a $5.00 expected win, you GOT UNLUCKY
and lost $100.00.

Again, these completely normal deviations (from the expected
result) and bankroll fluctuations that we experience, are often
called "luck." Over a large number of trials, you can expect
equal amounts of positive and negative deviations, and so they
should tend to cancel one another. In other words, over the
course of a year (some might say longer), a full-time poker
player should experience equal amounts of "good" and "bad"
luck. Actual win/loss should then depend solely on skill (to
include game selection.)

Therefore, you might reasonably expect the net effect of luck to
be zero. I certainly did, for quite some time. Then one day,
not long ago, I realized that, often, it is not. Here's why:

Imagine that you and I are poker buddies. We constantly
discuss strategy, critique one another's play, study and
practice together, etc. (I am so very fortunate to have just
such a "buddy" that I even married her.) Imagine further that
we play pretty much identically, except for one thing. When
you have those inevitable runs of luck, you react very well.
You compensate well for shifts in your table image, play
tighter (or change games, or quit) when you have run badly,
and exploit "a rush" by then running over your opponents- but
just a little ;-)

I, on the other hand, have a tilt-factor. I play just as well
as you until I take a few beats, or otherwise "get my buttons
pushed." Then I lose my resolve, play too many hands, make
too many crying calls, get over-aggressive at the wrong times,
or maybe even run scared and become weak or weak-tight.

Wait, there's more. When I have a normal run of good luck,
a.k.a. "a rush," I tend to again get overly aggressive, and
also over-confident, and feel invincible. I can then become
unable to recognize when I'm beaten in subsequent hands, so
too many of my chips go into the pot. (Very un-treebark-like.)

Tilt. Whomever stole that term from the Pinball world didn't
understand the psychologies of poker. Pinball tilt is is a
binary concept: The electric tilt switch either made contact,
and closed the relay, or it didn't. Human poker tilt is far
more subjective, and can be insidiously subtle. I used to
think that my tilt-factor was zero. Around the same time I
realized that the net effect of luck isn't always zero, I also
understood that neither I, nor any mere mortal, could have zero
tilt-factor. You might get very close to zero, but there is
almost always some (and sometimes much) potential for normal
emotions to effect sound judgement. That's called tilt.

We've all seen the player who takes several beats, goes off
the deep end, and becomes a maniac. But what about the player
whose play degrades just slightly when things aren't going
quite as expected?

The normal distribution of "luck" guarantees that all players
will run bad (or good) sometimes. Some players over-react to
those normal runs of bad (or good) luck. For them, the net
result of luck is certainly not zero. Failing to stay firmly
in control of your game can and will reduce your lucky wins and
exacerbate your unlucky losses.

Emotional preparation means:
- Having your head screwed on firmly in the first place.
- TRULY caring more about making good decisions than winning
individual pots.
- Staying attuned to your own psyche, recognizing when your
resolve weakens, and then either restoring that resolve, or
quitting the game.

Sergeant Rock
aka WoodRack-777

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Share what you know. Learn what you don't.


Jun 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/29/99
Great post, Sarge. Parts 3 and 4 really hit home for me. You could have
written part 4 for while watching me play when I'm losing. And if your wife is
wondering why I ran down her obvious Aces with KK heads-up, she need only to
read part 3.

I plead Guilty,


Stephen H. Landrum

Jun 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/30/99
On Tue, 29 Jun 1999 18:07:40 GMT, Sgt. Rock <>

>Tilt. Whomever stole that term from the Pinball world didn't
>understand the psychologies of poker.

While the term "tilt" may have been borrowed from pinball (I'm not
certain that it was), players on tilt are playing like they are
tilting at windmills. They are chasing fantasies and illusions and
fighting a battle that they often know that they cannot win.

"Stephen H. Landrum" <>

Jim Scott

Jun 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/30/99

>While the term "tilt" may have been borrowed from pinball (I'm not
>certain that it was), players on tilt are playing like they are
>tilting at windmills. They are chasing fantasies and illusions and
>fighting a battle that they often know that they cannot win.

I think of the term tilt as being in another dimension where you have
temporarily lost control of yourself.

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