The Anatomy of a Downswing
Ok, so a little backstory:
I have played poker for 2 years, with small profits and not
much time invested. I have had school, sports, etc. and it hasn't allowed me to play very often. Even with this, it has given me enough cash monies that I haven't had to get a job. Well this year I am going to dedicate myself to playing so that I can see if this can support my expenses throughout college or if I am going to have to get a 9-5. So I played ~35k hands in January with a profit of 2.5k at 100NL. Although I am even this month now,(++ with bonuses), I started the month with an 11 buy-in downswing over approx ~35k hands. So I decided to analyze this downswing and see what the difference was between my winning month and this downswing over the same amt of hands. Hopefully I can come to some good conclusions to help everyone out. Edit: I noticed that once I hit 36k I had evened out the downswing. So I have chosen to take out ~27k of each to emphasize monetary losses.
Ok, so during the downswing my VPIP dropped a whole percentage point. This was before I made any adjustments, so I assume this is from being gunshy towards the end and also some due to a lower % of good cards maybe? All other stats before BB/100 are the same or nearly the same..
My went to showdown is quite a bit higher during the downswing, 1.5 percentage points. I could use some input here: Do you guys think that is because of me playing worse or because of maybe getting more hands that were marginal calls and always ending up behind? We will have to see.
My won % when saw showdown is obviously the crusher here. 57.5 to 51.2. That is a huuge difference. What do most of you run at? Does this mean that the 57 was running hot and I suck at poker, or is 51 low? I think that the extra going to showdown % points helped shove this number down some more too in the losing weeks.
My AF is a littler higher during the time when I was winning. I think this has to be because I was catching more good cards which = more raising? We will have to see when I analyze the other parts.
Wow, it looks like I have subconsciously adjusted my play during the downswing. Maybe that is part of the progression of just learning the game?
Now the weirdest thing about this is the stats. Look at before and after I adjust my play. January UTG+1: 19.8% VPIP, -.02 BB Feb UTG+1: 16.6%, .10 BB...I will chalk this up to variance mostly.
Now as I move up the board, the late positions are drastically different. I am thinking that I was playing less of the marginal hands in these position because of my being scared money basically. I think these hands probably are very profitable even if they are marginal hands, and they helped me cut into my winrates there a lot.
Working up from bottom:
Jesus, I had 4 of a kind 11 times!?! That is a huge difference from 1 to 11. Someone that is good with probability, what is the normal here? I assume somewhere in the middle of those two, so it was adding onto my winrate in Jan and taking off in Feb, but not a huge amount.
Full house: Winning streak: 4 less times, but winning +10% more. So obviously here, don't lose your ass off with huge hands, K?
Flush: Big difference here. +20 more times when winning, but -2%. So quantity over quality? I also think I cut out a lot of A5s type hands when losing, thus cutting out some flushes. I'm thinking those hands are verryy profitable in unraised pots vs bad players.
Straights: No big diff.
3 of a kind: Losing 4% more of the time when losing streak
2 pair: Not a huge difference
One pair and high card: Here is the huge difference. It looks as if when winning, I am winning a huge amount more(or losing less) with these two types of hands. Money and won at showdown percentages are huuuuggee. Look at one pair there, jesus. This might be the biggest difference out of all things I have seen on this whole analysis, and I expected it would be. I would like to look at a lot of these hands and come back for further analysis as to why this is as big of a difference.
I played shorter sessions, and won more often
Conclusion and tl;dr:
Basically, your one pair hands are your bread and butter. Mr. Sklansky has pointed this out in his books, and now I understand why. Your one pair hands make up such a huge percentage of your hands that they are by farrr the most important hands. So when thinking "man I need to learn how to extract money out of people when I hit a flush, that is my biggest leak" you might want to think again. If you are losing, LOOK AT YOUR ONE PAIR HANDS.
I know a lot of people already knew this, but I just wanted to do some analysis so that people could see it firsthand. I hope this helps some people!
P.S. I might add some individual hand totals if I get any interest in this...
*I have to be honest, this inspired me to look at my major downswing this month. I basically have 15k hands at the level in question, almost perfectly split 7.5k and 7.5k between up and down (Feb 13th was when I started to plummet).
I don't think that sample size will really show much, since it is so small. However, I definately need to take a look.
My VPIP is almost a point lower during the swing as well, but part of that is intentional tightening up. I always try to get back to the basics when I'm running poorly to cut out potential big leaks I've developed on my own.
My W$SD plummeted from 60% to 50%, which is obviously a huge drop. 60% is certainly a bit on the high side (but not too far), but it is always discouraging to only win 50% of the hands you show down when I'm only showing down 18% or so. This is even a bigger kick in the balls because during the upswing I was running at 21% showing down. So not only am I showing fewer hands down, I'm losing more with them (doesn't make sense).
Winning money without showing down is a big key too. During the drop, I was only winning 28% of hands like that compared to almost 34% previously.
Digging into my actual hands, I am just getting slaughtered on the downswing. Everything but Straights/Boats are 55% or lower W$SD, which just seems sick.
Two pair 55%
During the upswing, all of those climbed well higher except 3-of-a-kind which only won 50% (odd?!?)
I probably will take the time and go through these hands to see what other leaks I've got, but a quick run over the numbers just seems to indicate some serious bad luck for me. While these are a very small sample to extrapolate from, it really is the worst stretch I've ever had (squished into 7.5k hands ta boot)
*berge, if it helps at all this downswing of yours couled easily be almost all bad luck. i had a similar run for 20k hands of 100NL (6-max but w/e) in january where i dropped 17 buyins and was losing money w/ fullhouses and 3 of a kind. OP, nice post, downswings really really suck and it is huge to look in detail at your play and make the changes that need to be made (if any) to fix it. regarding one pair hands , during my downsing i stopped getting anywhere near the value i should be from them because my downswing was making me timid. and this is not always an easy thing to spot, often i was just checking turns for pot control in the wrong spots or missing some thinnish value-bets on the river.
*juu, no its not bad. loosing (marginally) w/ 1 pair hands is fine, its not a great hand. but loosing a lot overall w/ 1 pair is bad. by bread and butter he means simply that you need to play these hands the best, because they are the most frequent.
Make sure you have the only see the hands that went to showdown
I have PokerOffice so I don't know how to do that.
With One Pair "Showdowns %" is 15% and "Showdowns Won %" is 40%. Two Pair it is 42% and 55% respectively.
Oh, and btw I am -$0.44 per hand with High Card with 5.79% showdowns and 9.28% showdowns won.
Overall, I have lost with 2pr and weaker about as much as I have won with flushes and stronger (with straights and three of a kind equaling my profit).
My apologies to the OP if this belonged in another thread, I was just wondering what the others average with their 1pr and 2 pr hands.
*op - the entire difference is in your won as showdown numbers. And 25k hand streches are really too little to draw any conclusions from, some extra 2outers for set/sets, not people folding to your AA/KK pre a few too many times above normal and BAM there goes all of you profit in those 25k hands.
*I think we may be able to look at your aggression numbers and draw some conclusions. I'd like others to pipe in with their numbers, but I believe I have a major leak in my game preventing me from moving up in stakes.
It's a leak that is very hard to fix because it takes trusting your reads and acting accordingly. I don't always trust my reads and play PASSIVELY.
Your Flop AF is lower than mine and I seriously believe I am too passive on the flop. Are you missing good CBets? Are you getting into situations where a CBet isn't a good idea maybe because there are too many players? That might indicate passiveness PF.
One thing I know, not because I do it, but because it was mentioned in a recent CR video, is that Flop, Turn, and River AF should be progressively lower. Yours is not. Your turn AF in both examples is higher than your river AF. Some discussion on this would be nice. I am led to believe river AF should be lower by a smidgen.
Unlock the secrets of AF and I think we have the answers to our problems.
*I had thought it was not good that my flop agg is 3.8, turn agg is 2.8, and river agg is 2.1 and that I should work on getting the latter ones up or the flop one down. Interesting.
*I haven't posted in several days as I try to deal with some problems with my own game, including some kind of perma-tilt, but I think this is potentially a key thread and I'm afraid the issue is in danger of being oversimplified.
I'm going to use a sports analogy. I'm going to pick baseball because it's a sport most people reading this will be familiar with enough to understand.
A good team goes into a slump and losses a bunch of games in a row. The coach asks himself, "Why is this team in a slump?"
There are a *bunch* of possible reasons:
- The team has been in a difficult part of the schedule, playing against a bunch of the best teams in the league.
- The team has been beset with injuries to key players.
- Starting pitching has been suspect.
- Relief pitching has been losing games that should've been won.
- Batters aren't getting hits.
- Batters are getting hits, but they haven't been timely (Lots of guys have been getting on base, but nobody's driving them home)
- Defence hasn't been turning difficult plays and/or is failing routine plays.
There are more possibilities and a team that is in a slump probably has problems in multiple areas.
But here are some key points.
Some of these problems will come into play more often than others. While some are more rare but when they are a factor can be devastating. Still others can have ramifications that reverberate through the team.
In a game, your batters will hit a minimum of 27 times with an average somewhere around 35-40 (?). So, if your batters are having problems this is going to be a chronic problem. However, there are 9 players on the team so the fact that a single batter is in a slump should not usually be a critical problem for the team as a whole.
OTOH, your closer - The pitcher who pitches the 9th and sometimes 8th inning is a key player only in a minority of games. Many games you will be winning or losing by a big score. When the score is 5-1, either way, the closer's job is significant but not key. However, when the score is 4-3 or 4-4 the closer's role is absolutely crucial. He needs to preserve a slim lead or ensure your team does not fall further behind so you have a chance to come back. So while the closer is often not a deciding factor in games, when he is important, he's absolutely critical.
When your starting pitching rotation is having problems this can lead to problems in your bullpen (relief pitchers and closers). Starting pitchers are expected to play a minimum number of innings. Usually at least 6 innings, though they often pitch more. Relief pitchers and closers are usually only expected to pitch a couple innings per game. If your starters are having bad games and you're replacing them early, then that puts extra pressure on your relief pitchers and your closers. A pitcher who is used to pitching only 2 inning is suddenly pitching 3 or 4. And while they normally don't see action every game, they might see action every day for a week. If this keeps up, there is a domino effect as your relief and closing pitchers are effected by fatigue. The problems with your starting rotation start to affect all your pitchers.
If you're looking for the real keys to the problem, you need to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the team. For example, let's say your team is built on hitting. You have one of the best offensive line-ups in the league. You expect to be outscoring your opponents and not winning a lot of pitching duels.
For a team like this, pitching is not as key and is expected to be mediocre, at best. So, if pitching is a little off it's probably not going to be a huge factor. Yes, your pitchers still need to get guys out. But, you're not counting on them to carry the team anyways. So pitching has to get pretty bad to make a big difference.
OTOH, if the hitters start having problems either because they are slumping or you run up against high quality pitching/defence your team is going to be in big, big trouble.
In other words, you're likely to experience a downswing when your strengths have become ineffective OR when your shortcomings have become so overwhelming you strengths can no longer overcome them. Or both.
Poker is not all that different. Assuming a TAGish, 2+2 player, consider the ways we make money in poker (offence):
- Blind stealing
- Blind battles
- PFR, everybody folds
- PFR, cbet, everybody folds
- PFR, our TP/overpair wins a medium or large pot at showdown
- PFR, we flop a monster, stackage
- 3-bet PF, everybody folds
- Set mining against PFR's (includes calling with SC's, etc)
- Decent (ie: TP) hands, particularly vs calling stations
- Steals from position/orphan pots (small pots)
- Double barrelling with air after PFR, villain folds
- Semi-bluffing either because villain folds, or we hit
- Successful Bluff
- All-in PF with best hand
- Value betting (our middle pair wins showdown OR our vb forces villain to fold)
And then consider the ways we loose money (defence)
- Blinds stolen
- Monster over monster
- Decent hand is not decent enough (TP loses to 2pair)
- PFR, miss flop, cbet gets raised
- We have to ditch TP vs likely 2pair/set or better
- Monster loses to bigger monster
Obv this list is not complete. I just want to establish the variety of plays. I also want to establish that as with baseball, these different types of plays vary in both their rarity and their immediate impact. For example, one pair hands are far more common than sets. However, one pair hands are usually small or medium size pots. Sets are far more likely to be large pots particularly against bad players. If you're playing against a bunch of good TAGs, you weren't likely to stack anyone by set mining anyway, but if you're playing against donkeys these are extremely profitable hands.
In addition, some things will cause repercussions throughout your game. As well, different players are going to be affected in different ways by problems in various areas. For example, if you almost never blind steal, then it's not going to matter much to you if the guys on your left are super-militant and more importantly super-good when it comes to defending their blinds. OTOH, if you are a habitual blind stealer then this will have a huge affect on you. Similarily, if you bluff a lot and everybody starts playing back at your bluffs or calling you light that's going to have a much bigger effect on you than if you're very straightforeward and never bluff.
The other big thing to consider is the source of any problems. In poker, there are three possible sources:
Our opponents' play
Obviously our play is the most under our control. Our oppents' play is, to a lesser degree, ALSO under our control. We do this in two ways. The first and most important is table selection. If you're playing with players who are worse than you you have a much better chance of beating them than if you play with players as good or better than yourself. And some types of bad players are inherantly more profitable than others.
We can also exert control over their play by playing in such a way as to encourage them to play in a way that is most beneficial to us. If a player calls PF raises too much with bad hands and folds a lot of flops, then we adjust our play to raise more PF. If a player likes to call down all the way with any part of the board, then we value bet him mercilessly. etc.
We have no control over variance. However, we can minimise or maximise its effect on us. This is generally a tradeoff between profitability and volatility. ie: Getting it all in when we are a 51% favorite vs slowing down and seeing how the hand develops. This really falls under the category of "our play" but it's important to remember that our style of play does have an effect on how variance treats us. If you want to maxmise your long term profits you need to be prepared for some big downsides.
To get back to the issue of big hands (set over set) vs small hands (one pair) hands and the significance thereof. Consider this. Variance is much less likely to affect one pair type hands. That is because there are far more of them AND they are usually smaller pots. They're like your batters. If one batter is having a bad game, the rest of the team should be able cover the slack. However, if the batting coach is horrible and teaches the batters bad habits then your team is going to have a systemic problem that will show up accross the board. This problem is less likely to be variance related, it's far more likely to be a problem of technique. In order for variance to be the culprit, your run of bad luck needs to be a long one. It happens, but it shouldn't be your first assumption.
OTOH, big hands are far more likely to be affected by variance. In the last 32,748 hands, I've gotten it all-in PF with AA versus a smaller PP (KK/QQ/22/55) where we both have full stacks (80BB+) 9 times. Of those, I won 4 and lost 5. Mathematically, I should have won about 80% of those (give or take, depending on the suitedness).
As I only won 44.4% of these, I am obviously running bad in this area. Assuming an average of 100BB each player, I came out of these confrontations -100BB. I should have come out of these confrontations +440BB. This is a difference of 540BB.
That's 1.65BB/100 or .83PTBB/100 over those 32,748 hands. FWIW, I'm +.80PTBB/100 over those 32K hands so it cuts my rate in half!
Obviously, this is a very small sample size. But that's the point. Over small sample sizes, you're going to lose several 80% favorites in a row. Of course, you could also win several 20% dogs in a row. However, if we're good players, we're hopefully seldom going to be in situations where we are big dogs. So this means that variance is more likely to effect us negatively than positively.
And the thing is, it's a far more complex system. I may be running well, elsewhere. ie: I may be flopping sets in at a higher than expected rate. So I can't just write off any difficulties I've experienced in the last 32K hands to variance just yet.
Let's consider 1 pair hands. In that same period, I saw showdown with 1 pair hands 283 times and won 106 times for a 37.46% win rate and a net amount of -1046.35BB.
Let us say that for all those hands I won, I was able to extract an extra 1BB or an extra 106BB total. That's a difference of .32BB/100 or 0.16PTBB/100.
If I'd been able to extract an extra 2BB per winning hand (212BB) that's .65BB/100 or .33PTBB/100.
Again, that's a very real difference. All from betting 13BB into a 15BB pot instead of 11BB...
The average amount won in winning hands (of the above 1 pair hands) was 16.14BB. The average loss was 15.58BB.
So if I had won 50% of these hands instead of 37.46%, I would have won 79.24BB instead of losing 1046.35BB. That's a difference of 967.11BB.
That's 2.95BB/100 or 1.48PTBB/100.
Again, huge. Small changes add up big in the long run.
This has become TLDR, here's the point I'm trying to make. Don't underestimate the significance of your big hands. Yes, they occur far less often, however a +/- 200BB swing is huge and losing several of these can be a massive hole to overcome. But at the same time, there's usually far less we can do about it. When someone pushes all-in with 55 and I call with AA there's absolutely no other way to play it. There's no tactic to refine in that situation.
OTOH, your small and medium pots are less likely to be affected by variance because there are so many more of them. However, even small changes in play can have a huge effect. So if these hands are a problem, be less inclined to blame it on variance. You should be more apt to re-examine your play.
*I agree. Your huge hands will make a big difference as well. What I am saying is almost the same thing as Sklansky says though, and that is that your big hands nearly play themselves. I didn't get to read all of your post because I am kind've in a hurry, but if you include AA/KK in your big hands, then it is also included in the one pair hands. It is a big hand, but in the end it is usually ending up being only one pair. For example, during my 25k hand stretch I was down almost 300 with KK. If you take that to it's usually(it is usually probably +400 in this period), that cuts out 700 of the downswing right there.
People talking about stats: There are really no stats that are optimal. e.g, I am a huuuggee nit with table selection. I usually play a couple of guys that will bluff off half of their stack with nearly nothing. This makes me obviously less aggro when I have a big hand, and adversely affects my AF. I just feel that unless you are comfortable being ultra-aggro, then you are not going to be very profitable with it. There are very good winrates for people that play 18/9, and there are very good winrates for people who play 20/14+. It is all about table selection and being aggressive and not as aggressive in certain spots. I know being more aggressive means a higher winrate, but if you are not an expert at playing aggro, then you are not adding to your winrate by bumping up your AF from 2.4 to 3.8, because it is going to put you into situations you cannot handle. As many pro's have said, they do not believe there is a *good* lag below levels like 400NL, and although that is a stereotype, it shows you that it is very very hard to be able to play optimally when playing LAG.
*Cry, it was definately NOT tl;dr. nh, a+, would read again.
*Nice post Cry
The only thing I'd like to add is that for most players, when you start losing (even over a smallish sample size) it is at least in part because of things that you are doing wrong or start to do wrong (because we press).
Looking at the numbers alone may not be enough to figure out what the problems are, but it is a good start to at least get a feel for how things are going. Reviewing entire sessions and such is probably the most effective way to determine what leaks there are and how to overcome them.
*I just hit a downswing, It doesnt bother me much, since if hit them before. But this post made me think long and hard about how to maximize profits. Especially when sizing my bets. I now will take a look and see if i can knock off a few bb of one of my bluffs or semi bluffs. Or add a few to a value bet. That is important to think about when we are dealing with a long run of hands. Ive played 60k hands this month, and because of my recent swing my win rate is only 1.5 ptbb/100. Even though i just lost 2k this weekend, i could have probably kept my rate up to 2.0 ptbb/100 if i had made some more precise decisions about my bet sizing.
IMo downswings are ussually brought about by to much confidence. We are making lots of money and all of a sudden we think we know everything there is to know, and that we dont need to study the game. That is bad because we forget why we makes moves that we do. We forget what the correct play is on the turn if we semi bluff a flop. We catch a guy bluffing once and we start to assume he never has a hand. We think that we can buy every pot with the all in button. That mixed with some nice [censored] suckouts can cause a downswing.
Like this weekend, id say that 1k i had no control over, but 1k i probably coulda saved. maybe 800. thats not the point. the point is that i knew there was money i didnt need to donk off, then thats just more money i might as well put in the fire place and burn. Im a fairly good player, and it saddens me when i begin to "tilt" and think tha the cards are in my control. They arent, the only thing i have the ablity to control is myself, when i lose that ability i need to go do somthing else. Tommy angelo says that its more Ev to spend 20 bucks and go see a movie, than to play poker when your mind isnt there for it. Somtimes is just more ev not to play, and i understand that now.
*Cry makes an excellent point in that every BB counts in the long term. I cringe raising KTo in the CO and it would be so much easier just to press the "fold" button, but I feel I have to fight for every BB as those stolen blinds do add up in the end lots so "raise" it is.
DLM makes an excellent point about downswings brought about by confidence. I really try to table select so I play against poor opponents quite a bit. But they also get good cards and after a good run I tend to not give them proper credit, which always ends up the same way - I lose more than I should have.
Donkeys get dealt aces and flop sets with the same frequency as us. The only thing we can do about it is lose less when we lose and win more when we win.
However, if we're good players, we're hopefully seldom going to be in situations where we are big dogs. So this means that variance is more likely to effect us negatively than positively
Amen... the key to variance IMHO, is to realize the slant toward negativity.
....that and the fact that FTP is rigged toward the suckout artists....
Ok I got to read the entire thing now
What you are saying is your big hands will be a bigger cause of variance, and I agree. I think your big hands are not usually something you are playing horribly wrong though, because it is realllyy hard to play them bad. What I am saying is that you could be losing because you aren't getting these cards, but instead of worrying about not getting sets, you should be worrying about playing better with 1 pair hands and the such.
You outlined this and the huge difference of this at the end of your post. Although you may only get 1 set compared with the 5 you should've got in a certain session, if you played your 100 one pair hands nearly optimally, then it would still be a breakeven session. If you do this consistently then you are putting in 9 out of 10 sessions where you break even or barely lose(not hitting sets etc) or where you can win quite a bit(where you hit 3 extra sets and extract 200BB).
The sets are nice, but to avoid losing big you have to avoid tilt and constantly improve your play with the hands you will always receive in each session.
*I also find myself in a downswing right now. its only over about 7k hands but i feel so frustrated. I dont win much w/ my sets, all my CBets are getting called my bluffs dont work, and all my toppairs get raised on the turn. So anyway, to the question. I have calculated the numbers for won BB (twice the size of the big blind) per hand with specific holdings. it is only done to hands that where not folded. How does my numbers look?
First of all, 30k hands from before the downswing. i had a winning rate of 5.93 BB/100 hands. also, it is 100$ NL:
High Card 1.100226449
One Pair 1.468725413
Two Pair 1.868559451
Three Of A Kind 5.604306723
Full House 12.22
Four Of A Kind 19.37272727
Straight Flush 4.875
can someone with a decent size of their database post their numbers? if i get some more data i can calculate the confidence intervals and come up with a "true value" for the different hands. this might be useful to look at to see if you are in a downswing.
Ok, now over to my downswing.
High Card 1.576953125
One Pair 0.24787234
Two Pair 2.962765957
Three Of A Kind 4.194642857
Full House 7.661363636
Four Of A Kind 9.25
The total amount of hands here are way to few, but i think that you atleast can look at the number for one pair. its 0.24 compared to 1.46 before the loosing streak. As someone pointed out earlier in this thread this value should not be vary that much due to variance but rather due to bad play.
what do you guys think?
ps: thread de baluga whale http://www.deucescracked.com/coaches/BalugaWhale
joueur de micro en 2006 qui a revolutionné le poker online