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OMG did I just discover my biggest leak?!?! (somewhat long, with pics and soul-bearing)

ChristopherSigmanChristopherSigman Posts: 1,147Subscriber
edited April 2014 in NLHE Strategy Discussion
OK, so I'm in the midst of my biggest ever down streak. So far in 2014 I'm in the hole $6,369 over 205 hours of play, around 75 hours of $2/5 NL (-$5,515) and 130 hours of mixed $2/5 PLO/PLO8/BigO (-$1,534), with one brief winning session of $15/30 LHE (+$680).

After 2013, I thought I was really getting the hang of this thing called pokerz. And this may or may not be a "big down streak" (you all can comment on whether or not this is a big down streak obv), but for me, it is big, in partially a monetary sense, but more so in an ego sense, considering where I was at mentally.

Obviously, I haven't "mastered" a damn thing. I'm sure a bit of this down streak is "lol running bad," but I think most of it is me making loose calls, not wanting to fold medium to weak hands because "he could be bluffing," and chasing draws without having the proper odds to do so.

I am a middle school band teacher and an oboist by profession, so I know about practice, reflection, study, more practice, etc. I also know that in poker, like in playing music, it's important to "get in the weeds" when needed (minute thought process, analyzing specific hands, etc.), but it's also important to get a "30,000-feet" view as well - the big picture stuff in other words.

So tonight, I was watching Friday's LATB as I was making oboe reeds, and I heard Greg Dinkin (fantastic LATB commentary BTW) refer to the game something about, "Most people play their A-game on their first buy-in. It's what people do on their second and third buy-in, when they're stuck, that is what's really interesting."

I was like, "Holy [email protected]#$ balls, is he talking to me?!?!!!" So I got out my iPhone and created two filters with Poker Journal, one for all cash games with no re-buys, and one for all cash games with one or more re-buys (FYI these graphs cover my play from October 2011 through the present).

This is my graph of all my sessions with one or more re-buys:

<img src="http://forums.crushlivepoker.com/uploads/FileUpload/60/716b09628958a46cf35cd27b56f057.png"; />
<img src="http://forums.crushlivepoker.com/uploads/FileUpload/df/a07a94436fda425127b286641170e1.png"; />

Next is my graph of all my sessions with no re-buys:

<img src="http://forums.crushlivepoker.com/uploads/FileUpload/64/7cc60d619ce926907e0669e76a9a34.png"; />
<img src="http://forums.crushlivepoker.com/uploads/FileUpload/04/b224eeaac7d5ef6734742d587b07d8.png"; />

What does this mean? Does this mean I don't play my A-game when I get stuck in a session? As a recreational playe, does this mean I should just walk away from the table and call it a night if I dust off my first buy-in? If it means I should "work on something," then what is it exactly I should work on?

These graphs look pretty clear to me that I play terribly when I don't do well on my first buy-in. What are your thoughts? If any of you use Poker Journal or a different session tracker, how does your history look when you have to re-buy vs. when you don't?

Thanks for any and all advise. I really want this down streak to end. Like yesterday lol. Take care,



  • DefacistDefacist Posts: 131Member
    edited April 2014
    Interesting post; thanks for sharing. Are you a Tommy Angelo fan? I think a lot of the stuff in "Elements of Poker" is applicable to your situation, and there's some techniques in there that would probably be helpful. He also did a few podcasts with Bart on the old Deuce Plays, which is free on iTunes. You may already be familiar with Tommy's teachings, but you should revisit them. It's great stuff. There might be a problem with playing too long, not quitting well, and going on "soft tilt." Also, whenever you have to rebuy, that means you got stacked, so there's probably some "hard tilt" going on as well (steaming over bad beats or your own bad plays, etc.)
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,090Subscriber
    Ok.. so I think I have a lot of experience in both the losing aspect and the tilt aspect.

    1) losing... so it sucks and in many situations your downswing can be triggered by one session and you lose some confidence and make slightly less plus ev decisions that lead to losing more and more.. TAKE A BREAK.. you need to make a decision that after so many losing sessions or losing so much in a specific period you need to rest.. I took a whole month off in oct of last year and I cannot tell you how much a difference it made. Instead of filling my brain with what I was doing I spent the whole month thinking about HOW i was going to play. Ive said this before and it was like rebooting my brain.

    2) tilt.... set a stop loss.. I lost a few sessions buying in smaller and having two or more buy ins was actually much worse than buying in full for 1k and only bringing one buy in. I focused more and having a deeper stack actually allowed me to lose less and win more.. If you can I would recommend buying in for as deep as you can in your game and only bring a few extra hundred to top off. If you lose that just leave.. there is always another game tomorrow.

    So now about tommy angelo.. his stuff is great but I am not sure to this day exactly how all of it really works. I see in myself that once my brain was rebooted .. And something I havent mentioned to people on this forum was finding for me proper medication to help with my overly negative response to bad beats. I told everyone I was clinically depressed for many years. playing poker in that state is not good for both mood and playing your best. Last year right after the wsop my psychiatrist finally convinced me to try a mood stabalizing drug instead of a anti depressant. What this medication does is cut off the cascade off the cliff when I have a big losing session as well as the life tilt. It was really hard for me since the drug is used for people with Bi-polar type II disorder. My mother was bi-polar type I and I really didnt want to be like her. the good news I am not. and this little drug freed me from the trap that my brain chemistry dictated to me. In no way am I suggesting that you take medication just that for me it was the beginning of my transformation to a winning player..

    so with my break, the right medication and my CONFIDENCE that my play was way plus ev I started winning .. winning alot .. now feb was a small losing month and march was break even ..but dec and jan I won more money that I lost the whole of last year.

    take a break.. use a stop loss and find out if you need to talk to someone about the tilt stuff. I swear it will help!


  • grindblergrindbler Posts: 131Member
    edited April 2014
    lol, after reading your post the first thing that came to mind was 'Tommy Angelo'.
    get his 'eightfold path to poker enlightenment' vid series from deuces cracked asap.
    once i asked him about coaching at Lucky Chances; he charges something like 70k, and isn't even available for that amount. but he told me all the info is in his books and videos. the 70k is a hand-holding fee for high-stakes players. the books and vids are a great value!
    monitoring yourself is an essential skill; sometimes the game is great, but you still have to know when to quit BEFORE you go on tilt. I've learned a little bit how to notice little things i will start doing when i'm starting to tilt, and will snap-quit before any damage gets done. (it's like a golfer has a pre-shot routine, a poker player should have a pre-hand routine; when you start faltering, it should be a big alarm-bell!)
    Personally i hate spotting weak players an edge by going on B or C game or worse.
    you might think 'my B game is better than their A game, but you will be kidding yourself, you are on C- and you aren't even profitable at the moment against droolers.
    your edge in poker is slimmer than you think...
    develop the discipline to get up; the game will be there tomorrow.
    your music skills should help; i'm a classical musician, too. the focus, and discipline should carry over. If you are an action junkie, and actually have a problem with correct quitting, then work like hell on your self-control. How you play your cards is minor concerning your results in comparison to your self-control or lack thereof.

    also, get 'the Mental Game of Poker' by Jared Tendler.
  • JCWJCW Posts: 591Subscriber
    I was watching at the same time and also found this statement interesting. But I had a different take away.

    I often, very often, find myself down 1-2 buyin. And I am sure those are not my best sessions. But they are typical sessions. I think the trick is not to leave if you are down a buyin but to try to maintain the quality of your game when stuck.
  • QHealthyQHealthy Posts: 100Subscriber
    JCW wrote:
    I think the trick is not to leave if you are down a buyin but to try to maintain the quality of your game when stuck.


    For me leaving is not really an option. It takes me an hour to get to the casino. Sucks to play an 1 hour sessions.

    Fixing your ''leak'' quitting after one buy-in doesn't really fix the underlying cause of the problem.
    As Jared Tendler would say: Quitting before you tilt doesn't mean you don't tilt.

    You need to really understand this '' Poker is just one long session'' What make you play worst after 1 buy in in the red? Just rebuy as a new session and reboot.

    I suggest you read ''The power of now'' by Eckhart Tolle. Awesome book so far. hes got videos on youtube as well.

  • StephenAStephenA Posts: 35Subscriber
    edited April 2014
    I just did the exact same filter on my poker journal app, and I have close to the same results as you (losing % is 73.7%) and the graphs all go downhill. I don't think I am that tilty or anything after a rebuy. I'm starting to think this issue is due to math and how the filter works instead of a true leak. Maybe I'm in some sort of Tilters Anonymous denial, but I'm going to check this out from a math angle in excel and let you know.

    That being said, everyone had great advice in the preceding posts. Definitely useful for me.
    Thanked by 1grindbler
  • napncrashnapncrash Posts: 177Subscriber
    How any given player reacts to digging into their pocket will vary from player to player... and even within one player depending on the situation.

    Maybe you DO play worse after digging.

    But the fact that you make more money on one buy in is often a function of the fact that if you're NOT rebuying, then you're profiting immediately. Of course you're going to have good numbers for those sessions! That doesn't mean you're playing better or not.

    Maybe your first buy in vanished getting AA vs. KK and losing and your next buy in was set under rivered straight. Did you dust them off? Nope - you just lost. Coolered, bad beat, etc etc. As Limon recently reminded us, "Bat beats make the world go 'round."

    After my biggest losing session ever (to that date) a couple of years ago, I did the same thing; looked at how I did depending upon how much I was in for. In the end, it's mostly a waste of time.

    The quality of your play should not be affected by how much money you've put on the table. BUT SOMETIMES IT JUST IS. TILT IS REAL. This is where stop-loss comes in.

    Only play the amount you can lose without wicked tilt. For you, maybe that's only like 700 bucks. Maybe it's 4k. Stop loss is a very personal thing, but, I believe, important if you're in a confidence lull.

    Most players hit those lulls at one point or another. Shit, I lived in that lull for years. But if your confidence is shaken, then set up a mind-healthy stop loss. Once you feel like you get your groove back, then you can widen the stop loss or get rid of it all together.

    My stop loss is in my pocket. As a matter of practicality, I bring what I'm willing to lose. I have to stuff my pocket and travel 40 minutes. Tommy Angelo suggests always bringing more than you are willing to lose... he lists a few benefits to that (which you can go find on your own). But, for those who aren't playing professionally or who are in a confidence lull, then a stop loss is a totally reasonable idea.

    One more thing: Elements of Poker is a really fun book to read. You're not going to learn a ton of specific game strategy, but just spending that time in Tommy's head is absolutely worthwhile.
  • StephenAStephenA Posts: 35Subscriber
    Ok I did some basic analysis using something else: a stock. I used GE because it has been around awhile. Pretend you had a 100 shares a year ago: your portfolio value would have been $2150. Today it would be worth $2656 (23.5% increase). This accounts for daily fluctuations over the whole year. GE had 123 days of losing value at daily close and 118 days of gaining value at daily close. So there are more days of losing than winning the past year with GE. But overall you are ahead. Why? Because it's a macro view, not a micro view. If I took the 123 days of losing value only and plotted it on a graph, it's going to look bad. Conversely if I took the 118 days of gaining value it will look awesome. But that's not how it works - you ignore the daily fluctuations and look at the course of the year, that's the true end value.

    Applied to this scenario, what is going on in this filter is that you are capturing daily results of rebuys which most likely still end up as a negative daily "close" if you will and adding ONLY the bad days up over the course of years. Well of course it's going to drop like a stone. It's taking "micro view" bad daily results and summing them at a "macro" level. I would argue when anyone has had rebuys on one particular session, it's hard to get back to even on that particular day. Compared to the times when you had no rebuys - those will always be positive $ daily sessions and when filtered as only positive results over the course of a year (macro) it will look awesome. Bottom line is the filter when used this way is not a true interpretation of results in my opinion. As we all know decent poker players are like winning stocks - daily fluctuations hardly matter but over time you get the value.

    All that being said, I agree with what a lot of people have said before in this thread and think it's great advice because we are human and it's hard for us to remove emotion completely from any daily outcome.
    Thanked by 1Lownstarr
  • DefacistDefacist Posts: 131Member
    edited April 2014
    A couple of folks have said that you should stick around when you're stuck and/or not playing well. While I agree that the ultimate goal is to be able to play your A game for as long as you can and to not be affected by losing, there's always a time to quit. For some of us that time is earlier than it would be for others.

    I'm reminded of something in the old Winning Low Limit Holdem book by Lee Jones that I read years ago. He said something to the effect of: if you're playing you best there's never a good time to get up, but if you're playing your worst there's never a good time to sit down. In other words, if you are in the right mental state to play, keep playing. If not, quit.

    You probably have recognized that you are not at your best when stuck or when playing long sessions. That's why the LATB commentary struck a chord with you before you ever looked at your numbers. You might suffer from something that another old-school guy came up with: Mike Caro's Threshold of Misery. This is a point where you've lost so much money that you no longer care if you lose the rest; you might as well throw your chips in the trash. You see bad players in low stakes games do this all the time; they've run bad, they've got a few chips left and they go all in with any two. I'm not saying you do this, but you might be doing a less extreme version by playing looser or crazier than you would normally play because you're losing.

    You also have a limit to how much mental energy and attention you can give to something. We all do. My limit may not be the same as yours. Pros sometimes play these really long sessions, but remember that they are pros. This is all they do. And even they might be slipping into B game toward the end, but their B game might be good enough if they've chosen a really spectacular game to sit in.

    Like the OP, I work a day job. I sometimes find when I try to play after work that I can't focus on poker for more than 90 minutes. That's all I've got. So I play my 90 minutes, take a break, and if I can honestly say that I still feel great and still feel that I'm on my A game, I'll stay and reevaluate myself later. If not, I go home.
  • ddzddz Posts: 152Subscriber, Professional
    I agree with Stephen A - I think by manipulating the data, you've shown that when you have to rebuy in a session, you tend to lose that session. Imagine if I could predict whenever you were going to have a winning session and took away an imaginary $500 away from you at the beginning of that session - guess what, your win rate would be lower (and might even be negative). Not because of effects on your game, but because you're starting out in the hole. This is what a session with a rebuy essentially is.

    I analyzed my data the same way using poker journal - I have a very solid win rate at 2/5 and 5/10 over a very long stretch (really not a subtle brag, just trying to give background for relevance), but my filters show the same trends as yours do. Solid upward line for no rebuy sessions, pretty jagged downward line for rebuy sessions, with similar session win/loss percentages.
    The caveat here is that I religiously top up in my sessions, so even if I add on 10-20% of my stack to get back to table max, I count that as a rebuy.

    I even looked at the percentage of sessions that are rebuy sessions - you're at 48%, I'm at 49.5%. If you are not topping up as religiously as I am and counting those as rebuys, than this may skew things.

    Nonetheless, I think you've found a math/data manipulation issue, rather than the underlying nirvana.

    I think Stephen A's comments about micro vs. macro view are also correct.

    With all this said, I think the key here, especially in a downswing, is to identify the leaks in your play by hand review, session review, etc. I often find in a downswing that some runbad leads to playbad, and the majority of the downswing is due to bad play. At that point, I will take a step back, maybe even take a bit of time off to clear my head, and then come back to the tables with a plan to play relatively tight, straightforward ABC poker. Focus on raising premiums and value betting only. Fish limps in EP and it folds to you on button with K3hh and you normally would iso? Forget about, just muck it. You raise and get called in a couple spots and would normally double barrel when you miss? Forget about it, just shut it down. Really take a hard look about whether you're being overoptimistic about how much money you will make if you hit your draw. Is it actually worth it to make those calls? Really play super nitty and value-oriented for a period of time until you've reversed the downswing and your head is in the right place, and then you can start adding these less nitty, more aggressive elements to your game.

    Hope this helps.
    Thanked by 2grindbler chriswt
  • grindblergrindbler Posts: 131Member
    edited April 2014
    I was thinking this over last night, and i still don't think that you have really identified your leaks in a detailed way. you should post some hands that you have questions on.
    what you've done is you have filtered out your losing sessions ( obv you have to rebuy when your'e losing/ don't need to rebuy when youre winning.).
    youre second graph goes str8 up because youve filtered out the losing sessions (in which you rebuy).
    youre kinda saying :'my leak is losing sessions.' but it goes much deeper than that.
    youre going to have winning sessions and losing sessions, that's a reality for everyone.
    if you started giving yourself a 1 BI stop-loss your problem would still be there, you would just be hiding it and not dealing with it IMO (like someone pointed out in reference to the Tendler book). It's like a muscle we need to strengthen. we need to exercise it to do so, but overexercise will be destructive, and counter-productive.
    there's no shame in quitting when you know you are off your game, but we need to get better at not tilting when we start losing. it's hard for anyone to play their best when they are buried in one particular session.
    it's easy to tell yourself that it's doesnt matter and it's all one big long session anyways, which is true, but the fact of the matter is that being massively stuck in one session will effect you emotionally and cloud your judgement.
    When you are losing, the other guy is winning, too, and even bad players will play better when they're winning, why spot them an edge? knowing when to correctly quit will help you IMO.

    "theres' no poker player alive that plays as good as when he's losing as when he's winning."

    - Phil Ivey VVV 1:35 VVV

  • khalwatkhalwat Posts: 997Subscriber
    JCW wrote:
    I was watching at the same time and also found this statement interesting. But I had a different take away.

    I often, very often, find myself down 1-2 buyin. And I am sure those are not my best sessions. But they are typical sessions. I think the trick is not to leave if you are down a buyin but to try to maintain the quality of your game when stuck.
    This is the key, imo. I think it was from Tommy Angelo, where he said that most people were focused on improving their A game... when what would really make a difference is if they improved their B and C games... and learned to quit when they were on their D game.

    Paraphrased, probably incorrectly, but it's a truism regardless. The times I have bad losing sessions, I'm generally playing terrible. I've been trying to improve my B and C games, and I think I've gotten better, but there's still some work to be done.
  • ChristopherSigmanChristopherSigman Posts: 1,147Subscriber
    khalwat wrote:
    JCW wrote:
    I was watching at the same time and also found this statement interesting. But I had a different take away.

    I often, very often, find myself down 1-2 buyin. And I am sure those are not my best sessions. But they are typical sessions. I think the trick is not to leave if you are down a buyin but to try to maintain the quality of your game when stuck.
    This is the key, imo. I think it was from Tommy Angelo, where he said that most people were focused on improving their A game... when what would really make a difference is if they improved their B and C games... and learned to quit when they were on their D game.

    Paraphrased, probably incorrectly, but it's a truism regardless. The times I have bad losing sessions, I'm generally playing terrible. I've been trying to improve my B and C games, and I think I've gotten better, but there's still some work to be done.

    Dear CLP community,

    There has been some excellent comments, advice, and dialog in this thread, thank you for that.

    Some have compared my two graphs as picking out my "winning" sessions from my "losing" sessions, and of course one would go up and on would go down. What got me thinking about my rebuy sessions besides Greg's comment was how Bart talks about playing from behind early in a session. He often says things like, "If you don't play well from behind in a session, then you should play tighter earlier on and not press marginal EV situations early."

    I think I've found in general that, after looking at my graph, that I am one of those players who does not play well in a session where I'm stuck early. I think I feel a few things - first, I'm like, "Well fuck, I'm not going home after 30 minutes!" and so I rebuy without thinking about my mental state, game conditions, or my image.

    Secondly, I think, "If I rebuy, I can get unstuck." and so I'm focused more on my results than on playing quality poker.

    I believe when I get stuck early, I become results-oriented, which causes me to play more hands, chase my "loss," and probably spew a bit.

    Like Wendy suggested, I may take a break for a few weeks to clear my mind.

    Gotta go, I'm in a rehearsal. :)

  • OminousCowOminousCow Posts: 702Subscriber
    These are definitely all important things to think about. It would be nice if poker tracking apps let you do more to track your rebuys on a per-session basis as a function of time. That would really let you get at the sort of stats you are asking about here. However, such stats would probably not converge very quickly (if ever).
  • DrGambolDrGambol Posts: 724Subscriber
    I wouldn't put much thought into the stats. In sessions when you rebuy, you are typically re buying because you have lost. So you're already starting in the hole. You're not expected to be positive.

    That would be like flipping a coin 3 times, and then subcategorizing heads and tails on the first flip, then finding it strange that when heads is flipped first, that there's a large number of 2 or 3 heads being flipped. Obviously, if you've already flipped heads once, there's a higher chance of having a lot of heads. With the edges in poker not being huge, this should not be surprising that we are losing in sessions where we are stuck.

    A better stat would be what is out bb/100 when we are ahead vs when we are behind. So if we lose 1 buy in, how are we playing in all hands after that?

    As far as the don't tilt and stop loss advice, I personally just prefer to be honest with myself. If I'm losing but am playing well, I can just tough it out. If I'm upset, tilted, or playing bad, I'll quit. I've had sessions where I've been stuck 4 buy ins early and play it out til I break even because I was playing well in a good game. I've also had times where I've quit a game when I made 2 bad plays, was even, but the game was bad.
  • UntreatableFPSUntreatableFPS Posts: 1,004Subscriber
    edited April 2014
    Point #1: -$5500 in 2/5 isn't that big of a downswing if you play a little aggro. I get -$5500 streaks once every few months and I'm a pretty big winning player

    Point #2: If you're filtering out the sessions that you didn't rebuy at all, those sessions have to be mathematically way more winning than sessions when you rebought

    Like Dr. Gambol said, when you rebuy, you already starting in the hole. Conversely, if you never have to rebuy, it's usually because you started off positive and thus the rest of your session is expected to be positive.

    Also, I don't know if you top off or not when you lose a couple hundred after losing a few small pots, but if you top off, then your stats should be even more extreme in being skewed this way because it would be almost impossible for you to have a losing session when you didn't rebuy.

    Even if you don't top off, if you just lose your initial buyin and leave, your losses for that session are limited to one buyin. But your wins are still unlimited. And it means you started off above EV, so the expectation for that session is positive if you run neutral for the rest of the session.
    Thanked by 1OminousCow
  • BradleyTBradleyT Posts: 621Subscriber, Professional
    Spend $30 to get a month of Deuces Cracked and watch the Tommy Angelo video series mentioned above. Take a sheet of notes on it. Do the mindful breathing stuff. Become more right view in your thinking. Come to appreciate reciprocality.
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,090Subscriber
    Tommy Angelo will help but nothing is better for tilt control that knowing how you are playing is correct. I have said this before confidence makes you way way less results oriented. When you KNOW you are playing properly then you are less worried about how the cards come out.

    Although I think you naturally get better playing behind by topping off I dont think I would take the JCW jump in the deepend style. Try it slowly. I find that doing this bit more each time works for me without the huge swings..

    good luck! The fact you are on this site means it will definitely turn around. I swear it will.

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