How To Deal With Variance & Downswings in Multi-Table Tournament Poker
October 23, 2012 Leave a Comment
No matter how good at poker you may think you are, you simply have to lose sometimes. Sometimes those losing streaks last longer than you could ever imagine, even if you are playing “perfect” poker. The fact is, no matter your skill level in poker, the bad side of variance will bite you in the ass sometimes. You can get all your chips in the middle with the best hand, and end up losing, it is just something that happens sometimes. This luck element of poker is what keeps the fish coming, and what enables profitable players to win in the long-run.
Short-term variance is something every multi-table tournament grinder will have to deal with over and over again. It can be extremely frustrating to lose 30+ tournaments in a row without making a final table, or sometimes even finishing in the money. You begin to question how you used to win at this game, and you question if you are actually skilled, or just getting lucky sometimes.
I will tell you personally that short-term bad variance is something I LOVE.
It forces me to re-evaluate my game and my play to see if I am actually making mistakes, or if I am just running into some crazy bad luck. A lot of times, it is just normal variance, but looking through hand histories, I become disgusted at some of the moves I make sometimes. Some plays I make are just flat-out fundamentally wrong, and I am glad I looked back to review them, because everyone else who is making the same mistakes, will continue to make the same mistakes until they realize they are wrong.
Admitting you were wrong and made the wrong play is something a lot of successful poker players have trouble realizing. Put that big ego aside, and be brutally honest with yourself that you were wrong. Now you can successfully plug the leak next time you hit the felt. You wont make the same mistake again when you admit you were wrong and actually take the time to sit down and improve your play and mindset.
Looking at the graph above, you can see that I have been on a sick losing streak over the last 150+ tournaments. I am happy it has happened because I have been able to plug a TON of leaks in my game, especially in the later stages of the tournament. I have realized that I am playing WAY TOO AGGRESSIVE with the wrong stack sizes trying to hit a big stack, when I can instead be more patient and wait for better spots to chip up.
One of the most glaring leaks I discovered in my game was my 3-bet jam (all-in) range when faced with an opening raise. The 3-bet all-in with 15bb-20bb is one of the most effective weapons every serious tournament grinder must have in their arsenal, I think I just abused it to the point where players were picking up what I was doing, and calling my bets with less than premium hands, and having me dominated and giving me an early exit.
There are times when jamming 20bb pre-flop with 59 off suit is the correct play, and there are times when it is not. I would be doing it at the correct times, but also at the wrong times which would ultimately cost me potential profit. One of my main problems is that I like to play 10+ tables at one time, and I don’t get to pick up player specific reads. I can guarantee not every one of my opponents is playing 10+ tables, and they have watched what I have been doing over the course of the ~500 tournaments I have played with many of the same players.
I think a lot of my opponents have dead on reads on me, and my hand ranges, and that has forced me to adjust my strategy. I won’t go into detail specifically in this blog, but if you talk to me in private I will be more than willing to share my new strategy. It has already worked out, as I hit 2nd place in another $5 re-buy to spark my next upswing.
It will take a lot more grinding to recover some of the potential profit I left on the table by playing too aggressively, but I am happy it happened because I believe my tournament game has VASTLY improved, and I won’t ever be making the same mistakes again.
More to come soon!