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Old 04-14-2018, 08:53 AM   #1
Feldheimer1
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Steady or Swingy?

Hi,

I'm curious about how other players experience wins/losses in poker over a fairly short span, let's say 3 months as an example.

Many articles say that winning players take in anything over 1bb/h for a steady winrate, while other people say that it's much more subject to swings and you're likely to see some wilder winning & losing sessions.

Just interested in people's experiences with winning or losing (particularly winning as it sounds intriguing to hear how people manage those steady or unsteady runs).

All the best!
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Old 04-14-2018, 09:08 AM   #2
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

Depends on your definition of "steady" and "swingy". Also depends on strategy and style of player. Nobody literally makes 1BB/hr.
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Old 04-14-2018, 09:23 AM   #3
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

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Originally Posted by the_spike View Post
Depends on your definition of "steady" and "swingy". Also depends on strategy and style of player. Nobody literally makes 1BB/hr.
Well I'm making an educated guess that more people have smaller, more consistent wins, though I know the game is notably loose in many areas nowadays. I'm uncertain whether the field generally leans more towards a smaller climb of profit instead of larger swings that some of the more famous, looser players have endured.

1bb/h is probably not expressing what I wanted. I'm only trying to differentiate between the gradual and radical climbs. For example, do all loose players experience wilder swings or are there those sorts of players who manage to even out and win at the same kind of rate as a tighter player? I realise there are a lot of variables but I still think the answers would be good to hear.
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Old 04-14-2018, 10:25 AM   #4
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

Even if you are a conservative player you will have stretches of amazing cards and others full of coolers and beats. Im not convinced there is a winning NL style that doesnt experience 500 to 1000bb swings, even in the softest of games. Its worse if the games are tougher and more aggressive.

I play live 1-2 and have had 8 hour stretches where I have booked 2k wins, and others where I have dropped 1200. I consider myself somewhere in the middle between conservative and LAG.
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Old 04-14-2018, 11:01 AM   #5
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

IMO, guys that are good that don't have huge swings know how to minimalize their losses well. Most people go on some sort of tilt when they start losing and make their downswing even worse. Some people just run into a bunch of coolers but as long as they play correctly between the coolers, they are "minimalizing" their losses.

I have one guy that plays at my home game that has a great winrate and would probably show a steady climb on a graph because he is money tight. When he loses he doesn't allow himself to lose a lot.

So far in the rough year that I have been playing a lot, I have seen 3 months of pretty decent "run good", 2 months worth of "run terrible", 2-3 sessions of "play every hand run good", and 6-8 months worth of needing to play solid poker to not lose because I only see 4-5 big hands a session mixed in there.

I have learned that poker swings are VERY real and basically unavoidable. It is what you do and how you handle those swings that make the good poker player.

I haven't studied a lot lately due to complacency and frustration due to a recent downswing. Yesterday I took a little study time on one small aspect of the game, went into a session with a great mindset and focus and had my highest hourly winnings of $400/hr. I think discipline and focus is one of the LARGEST keys to success as a poker player past the fact of knowing the fundamentals and maths of the game.
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Old 04-14-2018, 01:20 PM   #6
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

Variance and win rate will also be affected by what you play, where you play, and when. Are you playing live $1-$2 at a nitty reg infested casino? Are you multitabling microstakes? Are you playing live, daily turbo MTT's?

If you are playing a very nitty medium stakes limit game, your swings may be less pronounced than if you were playing a loose, LAGgy $2-$5 NLHE game, though your win rate might be the same.
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Old 04-14-2018, 01:35 PM   #7
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

Ok cool. I used to play sng's but I didn't like the feel of the games as much as cash.

How about at higher limits? I'd be playing 25nl/50nl, not anything over 100/200/400nl. Initially I think someone who plays something large like 500nl plus would have a different mindset but I see a lot of games on local sportsbetting sites which attract whales and bad regs who clearly don't have the same temperment. They seem to tilt and ragequit/shove when losing. I don't play on it but I assume the more regular players on stars have an overall better capacity for downswing endurance than people playing on something like global or unibet?

This brings me to another question; how do people find that they actually make money from poker? Is it simply down to minimising what we can lose? Choosing good, weak tables etc?
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Old 04-14-2018, 04:35 PM   #8
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

Times have changed because games got tougher, but in the past some players were able to successfully play a very low variance style in FullRing NL games.

Personally, I had a stretch of a couple hundred thousand hands at NL100 in 2009 where my worst ‘downswing’ was 5 buy-in. Also, in a 6 week stretch of playing live cash games (mostly 2/5) during the 2011 WSOP, I didn’t have one single day where I lost more than one 100BB buy-in.

It’s just way more likely to lose multiple buy-ins in a row when you get it in with anything but QQ+/AK or postflop with less than a set. That said, a low variance approach usually also means a lower winrate because you avoid playing in marginally +EV spots.
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Old 04-15-2018, 05:57 AM   #9
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by madlex View Post
Times have changed because games got tougher, but in the past some players were able to successfully play a very low variance style in FullRing NL games.

Personally, I had a stretch of a couple hundred thousand hands at NL100 in 2009 where my worst ‘downswing’ was 5 buy-in. Also, in a 6 week stretch of playing live cash games (mostly 2/5) during the 2011 WSOP, I didn’t have one single day where I lost more than one 100BB buy-in.

It’s just way more likely to lose multiple buy-ins in a row when you get it in with anything but QQ+/AK or postflop with less than a set. That said, a low variance approach usually also means a lower winrate because you avoid playing in marginally +EV spots.
But is a low-variance style optimal play? When I've discussed theory with my study group we often go through equilab in particular spots. One hand we discussed was AJo (I can't remember the board) but we had a river decision. We faced a bet which made us run our range through and initially thought AJ was a fold but turned out to be a call for the price we were being laid.

Now I may be misunderstanding this but is the example above a fold if we're playing low-variance? To me, a low-variance style also has some elements of exploitable strategy in it for our opponents to take advantage of. Also how does low-variance affect bluffing frequencies, if at all?

These questions may be too general but hey ho.
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Old 04-15-2018, 10:19 AM   #10
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

low variance = being a nit -- always folding means you play a hand where you made 0 bb. Every time you enter the pot, float the flop, etc or what not, you are winning or losing X bb per hand.

high variance = call down more, bluff more, 3bet more 4bet more etc. because every hand has the potential to win or lose more $
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Old 04-15-2018, 12:18 PM   #11
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

Variance is a function of the playing style over winrate. Both playing more aggressive/loose/bigger pots and reducing your winrate lead to longer downswings. You can't really reduce both variables at the same time, therefor you should focus on the one that makes you money; winrate. Yes you can reduce your downswings by calling less optimally, bluffing too infrequent and what not but your winrate suffers.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:30 PM   #12
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Feldheimer1 View Post
But is a low-variance style optimal play?
In a straight poker sense? No, for reasons others have mentioned.

For me personally, especially in the live games example? Yes, because losing 2 BI makes me way more unhappy than winning 2 BI makes me happy. When I am in Vegas, even for 6 weeks, I want to do stuff with friends like fine dining or clubbing on an almost daily basis. I don’t want to do that when I am unhappy. So I try to minimize the risk of losing big even if that’s a -EV decision poker-wise.
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:20 PM   #13
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

Is it not true that in the last 10 years and with black Friday happening that more accessible information is available to poker players and much of it has advocated playing a TAG style though? This is obviously more low-variance but in more recent years I've seen several sources claim that a LAG approach (including higher variance intrinsically) is more profitable, just take something like the Grinder's manual.

So is the answer (for modern day playing at least) to play Loose-aggressive, tight-aggressive or perhaps to adapt both in certain situations? I think my confusion is rooted in the nature of profiting from such a brutal game and how different plays see wildly different results.
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:24 PM   #14
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

If you strictly want to win as much money as possible then

1) Stop caring about what influences variance. You have no control over it (actually you do but it also affects winrate)
2) Don't play a "style", it's pointless. Play every hand to maximize profit, on some tables that means raising 60% of your hands and on other tables that means folding 90%.
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Old 04-15-2018, 05:01 PM   #15
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

Yeah that sounds slightly counter-intuitive to me.

It's not a case of not being able to detach myself from the money but it sounds like you're inviting greater losses by employing a higher variance style. However I think that lower-variance is just as easily beatable by a player who can detect it; certainly at micro levels it could be optimal.

Yes I think adapting your hands and plays to suit the table is probably the best starting point here. I suppose the variance is just something that you have to endure but making a profit is attainable through multiple styles of play.
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:28 AM   #16
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

Playing a LAG style means paying more rake which means, in general, you have to achieve a greater winrate as opposed to a TAG style. I'm currently trying to get it through with a quite loose approach, but it's very swingy.
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Old 04-16-2018, 03:19 AM   #17
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

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Playing a LAG style means paying more rake which means, in general, you have to achieve a greater winrate as opposed to a TAG style. I'm currently trying to get it through with a quite loose approach, but it's very swingy.
Can I ask how you're finding that adaption?

Is it affecting your mental game, do you think? It must be fairly shocking to go from minor swings to bigger ones?

Is the greater winrate achievable and sustainable?

Do you try to utilize a lag approach only when there are nits/tags or more broadly?

And anything else, of course. It's all quite interesting to me.
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Old 04-16-2018, 06:11 AM   #18
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

you pay more rake because you enter the pot more often... not sure what you're trying to say.
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Old 04-16-2018, 08:34 AM   #19
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

I agree with kelvis in the fact that fitting into a certain player type should not be the goal. You should play each villain accordingly. Some villains you may have to play nitty against and some at the same table you can play super lag against. Being a good player is knowing how to adapt to those situations. We have guys at our home games that are HANDS DOWN the best players at the table when looking at odds and math, but constantly get run over by guys that can adapt to their style and exploit them. Generally when I sit at a table I can tell who I will be targeting the majority of the night within the first 30 minutes, and if I tangle with one of the other people that's cool but I will make sure I am in good position or have a strong range against them. And for the most part, I play 90% of my hands I am in against the same 3-4 people ALL night long.
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Old 04-16-2018, 08:46 AM   #20
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Feldheimer1 View Post
Can I ask how you're finding that adaption?
I play on PS, micro stakes (6max NL5 and NL10). I may not be the one to give you the most useful advices on this topic since there are more competent players here, but I'll gladly share my experiences and thoughts about it.

I started playing cash with the standard TAG style a year ago. Then this idea came to my mind, that if today's environment is so tough and every beginner is "told" to play a TAG style, doing the same would make it much tougher. I've read posts from respected posters about LAG style and as far as I know there's consensus about the profitability of playing loose-aggressively.
I think being a LAG can be highly profitable at low limits, but I have to mention that it is not a style to mass-multitable with. You get involved in more pots and due to your wider preflop range, you face more difficult postflop decisions.
I assume that the higher level you go, the harder it is to maintain the profitability of this style, because people play closer to GTO, though I can be wrong at this point.

Now for your other questions: I still consider myself a beginner, thus, swings do not affect me that much, since I know I have a ton of leaks to plug. Apart from this, I could imagine playing LAG poker for a living can be nerve-racking.

This is only my opinion, others may add theirs: I think at the small and probably medium stakes, LAG style can be way more profitable even in the long run in terms of bb/100. Now, as I already mentioned, you might make more profit playing tighter on more tables, but for sure there's much more possibility to exploit your opponents if you play a decent LAG style. And at these limits, an exploitative style is way more useful than trying to play balanced GTO.

Quote:
Do you try to utilize a lag approach only when there are nits/tags or more broadly?
I shift to a tighter approach when I play with other LAGs (they are mostly maniacs at NL10), because the board can quickly become a minefield of raising and re-raising. But since weaker players tend to play passively and the average regs all play a quite similar TAG style (from the nitty 15/10 end up to around 25/20), it's not too often I end up playing against decent LAG players.

I want to keep playing loose-aggressively as long as I can, my understanding of the game improves faster thanks to closer postflop decisions and, honestly, it feels way more fun to me. I did tighten up my game a bit since February. I played 38/22, but that was definitely out of the line if you think of any long term profitability. I've cut back from vpip and popped up my pfr a bit, now it's around 33/26, which I guess is a somewhat sustainable style. Who knows, time will decide .)
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:33 AM   #21
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Re: Steady or Swingy?

I feel that I do pretty decent as long as I can manage to control myself when I feel as if I’m starting to tilt. And well i stay away from the casino.
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