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Old 08-17-2011, 06:21 PM   #1
benjamin barker
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Spade The Truth About the EV Line

The EV Line

The following article is my personal opinion about the All-In EV line that is shown on poker graphs. The cliffs are that I don't like it.


It Only Measures One Small Aspect of Poker

A lot of people view the EV line as some clear indicator of how good or bad you are running. Although in some cases it can be a marginally accurate indicator, in most cases it simply is not. It's just one small part of a huge equation, and it's a bit like trying to see an entire forest by looking at only one tree.

You can run good or bad at every single aspect of poker, and it all factors in. First of all, when you sit down to play, you run good or bad with your game selection. The games might be extra juicy that day. You might end up with position on the fish or keep finding only seats out of position. Maybe your waitlists keep dropping you in good seats, or maybe you keep arriving just after the fish busts.

Once you are playing, you might get dealt a lot of good starting hands. You might get all sorts of playable hands and good spots, or you might just get a bunch of garbage. Perhaps everyone folds to you and you get to open a lot of marginal steal hands, or perhaps it is constantly opened or reraised in front of you and you have to instead constantly fold marginal holdings. There are a huge variety of ways you can run good or bad preflop before you even make a single action.

Every time to you flop a good hand, you can run good by having your opponent flop something worse that can give you action, and run bad by having your opponent whiff and give up, or by getting coolered. Every time you bluff, you run good or bad depending on whether or not your opponent happened to hit that particular time. Every time you make a thin call, you run good or bad depending on what part of your opponent's range you run into. You might decide to cbet and run a triple barrel bluff in a bad spot, yet end up hitting the perfect turn and river bluff cards and succeed and thus run good, or conversely it could be a good spot but the board runs out terribly for you.

You can even run good or bad regarding your opponents mindset. They might be distracted or tired or tilty on a given day, or you might run into them when they are playing their very best.

I've listed a few examples off the top of my head, some minor and some major. There are countless more that I'm not going to write out. I could go on and on forever, but the idea is this:

You can run good or bad regarding every single aspect of every single hand, from the most obvious all the way down to the tiniest detail, and it all matters. There are many, many factors that come into play regarding our success at poker, and while all-in EV is one of those, it's just one component of a very complex equation.


Even the Line Itself can be Misrepresentative

Suppose you play 10 hands, and in each of those 10 hands you are dealt AA and your opponent is dealt KK and you get it all in preflop. Let's say you in 6 of those all ins, and lose 4 of them. Well, you just won 2 buyins total in 10 hands, and ran very hot. However, according the the EV line, you should have won 8 of those all ins, and you actually ran extremely poorly to run 2BI below EV in just 10 hands. In my opinion, you did not run poorly at all. Your opponent, who ran way above EV, is actually the one who ran very poorly in this scenario, and the EV line is totally misrepresentative.

Now's let's suppose you open QQ UTG, and an extreme nit 3bets you in UTG+1. You decide to 4bet your QQ, and he shoves on you. You make the crying call, and are very relieved to see him turn over AK. Although his range is very heavily weighted towards AA/KK, and rarely does he show up with AK, you got lucky this time and got it in as a flip. Your EV line records this situation as a flip, but in reality you put yourself in a very -EV spot, and the graph has no concept of this.

If we again have QQ and get it in against an extreme aggro spew monkey, but unfortunately run into his KK and lose, the EV line only shows this as running very slight under EV. However, against this crazy opponent that is open shoving every hand, we were in a huge +EV situation, and actually ran very very poorly in this case.

The line has no concept of any of these things, and as a result of very often mispresentative as to how we are truly running. Again, there is a lot more to say on this matter, but I'm just providing a few brief examples to illustrate the point.


Why it can be harmful to your mindset

For me personally, when I am constantly looking at my graph, I am not playing my best. I am too focused in on overall results, and not focused enough on the situation at hand and playing my best. There have been times that I have been way under EV, and I would constantly look at the graph and feel sorry for myself, or show it to other people to try to garner sympathy. I could have spent this time being honest with myself about my leaks, and working to improve my game, but instead I just wallowed in self pity and tried to tell myself that I am amazing at poker and don't need to improve, and that someday I will magically stop running bad and then I will be a crusher.

Also, by making ourselves keenly aware of that fact that we have been losing or that we are under EV, we put ourselves in a mental state where we are much more prone to tilt. When we are not upbeat and focused on the task at hand, it is much more difficult to play our best poker. Sometimes if we are over EV, it will undermine our confidence. The more fixated we are on our past negative results, the less successful we will be at the tables. The whole process can lead to a defeatist attitude that destroys our passion and drive to improve. Again, there is much more to be said about this and the poker mindset in general.


Conclusion

There are times when the EV line actually does a pretty fair job of summarizing how we ran over a given stretch. Usually when we are under EV, we feel this is the case, and when we are over EV, we feel like the line is misleading. On the whole, it tends to only tell a very small portion of the story. It's not a good representation of how lucky we have been, and can have a negative impact on our mindset.

Just turn it off and don't look at it!

This is all just my opinion on the matter. Some people will have different opinions, and that's fine. It's a complex subject and it's hard to say someone is 100% right or wrong about the matter. I'm hoping others will share their opinions on the topic, and this will lead to some good discussion.

Cheers!
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Old 08-17-2011, 06:31 PM   #2
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

sounds like someone who is up a ton in ev
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:28 PM   #3
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

Very nice. I hate the EV line too. Can it be removed from hem somehow?

Quote:
Originally Posted by benjamin barker View Post
The EV Line

Now's let's suppose you open QQ UTG, and an extreme nit 3bets you in UTG+1. You decide to 4bet your QQ, and he shoves on you. You make the crying call, and are very relieved to see him turn over AK. Although his range is very heavily weighted towards AA/KK, and rarely does he show up with AK, you got lucky this time and got it in as a flip. Your EV line records this situation as a flip, but in reality you put yourself in a very -EV spot, and the graph has no concept of this.
Don't you think the nit ran hot too and was very relieved to see us having QQ? Surely AA/KK is in our range too.

The way I see it, at any given single hand whoever wins the money ran hot. And if that wasn't the case we would be making something like -0.01-0.05BB every hand. i.e. no variance.
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:45 PM   #4
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

Good point. I think everyone knows it but good that you pointed it out.
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Old 08-17-2011, 09:22 PM   #5
benjamin barker
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

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sounds like someone who is up a ton in ev
i assumed you'd troll me eventually itt, but i didn't suspect you'd nab the very first post
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Old 08-17-2011, 10:42 PM   #6
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

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Originally Posted by benjamin barker View Post
it's a bit like trying to see an entire forest by looking at a shrub of trees.
FYP imo
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Old 08-17-2011, 10:54 PM   #7
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

I agree that it isn't a good indicator of how you're running, but I think it's a more accurate tool for a winrate. No matter how well or poorly you run, that red line tells you where you should end up long term. As long as you can keep these ideas separate, it is useful. It is,however, pretty harmful if you can't make this distinction.
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Old 08-18-2011, 06:25 PM   #8
benjamin barker
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

bump one time
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Old 08-18-2011, 06:57 PM   #9
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

Quote:
Originally Posted by benjamin barker View Post
The EV Line
For me personally, when I am constantly looking at my graph, I am not playing my best. I am too focused in on overall results, and not focused enough on the situation at hand and playing my best.
Cheers!
This is so true. I hate looking at my graph while playing, but I still do it every single time after I loose or win a moderate to big pot. It can unconsciously ake you do things you would not normally do, like calling when you should shove if you are down, or chasing one more card when you are up, etc.

I also feel more reluctant to shove QQ or AK if the Ev line doesn't work for me that day. I try to always make the best possible decision, but to do this, I think no one should look a the his graph every 300 hands. It makes you focus on a lot of things but what is actually happening on your tables.

I wish you could have a timer option on HM or PT3 and you can't look at your graph or results for the giving time. Would be nice. Or I guess I could be more disciplined.

Good post OP.
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Old 08-18-2011, 06:58 PM   #10
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

The site I play on doesn't show mucked cards so I've never had to worry about it.

I think it's just a case of trying to satiate our desire to control variance. Our mind doesn't like to accept the lack of control we have - we always try to rationalise the unknown even when we know it's dumb. For more info on variance in everyday life I'd recommend the book Fooled By Randomness.

How can we improve upon this mental flaw? Have other (useful) straws to clutch to when estimating variance. Crunch the numbers, do variance simulators, watch training vids about variance, discuss it with friends, etc.
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Old 10-27-2011, 06:48 PM   #11
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

bump because of quality
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Old 10-27-2011, 06:59 PM   #12
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

awesome post. 100% agree.
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Old 10-27-2011, 07:50 PM   #13
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

i think a lot of the problem comes from uncertainty of expectation. like, if i'm playing in a game that i've already put in a huge volume at and know that i am a decent winner at, i pay a lot less attention to how i am running. if i'm doing something new or moving to a higher than normal level, now i'm paying a lot more attention to how i'm running, because i'm a lot more uncertain of my expectation.

edit: agree about ev line only being a small part of how you're running, btw.
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Old 10-27-2011, 10:28 PM   #14
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

You can't run bad on game selection. You can not do it and happen to get ****ty seats but thats not running bad at it. Its sucking at it.
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Old 10-27-2011, 10:30 PM   #15
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

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You can't run bad on game selection. You can not do it and happen to get ****ty seats but thats not running bad at it. Its sucking at it.
Try playing on a site where you only have 10 tables of a limit running.

A lot of Americans have this issue right now.
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Old 10-27-2011, 10:34 PM   #16
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

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Try playing on a site where you only have 10 tables of a limit running.

A lot of Americans have this issue right now.
If there isn't a good game shouldn't you not play? Isn't it just bad game selection to play in a bad game even if it's the only game? If you are profitable in the game then you are running well by getting in it. Maybe you could run better but you can't really consider that running bad. Thats like only winning $100 on a $1 scratch ticket with the grand prize being $1000 and call it running bad.
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Old 10-27-2011, 10:39 PM   #17
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

You can still be +ev but run "bad" in what seats are available.

If you only have 10 tables to choose from and feel you are +ev, you should still play. Even if you would prefer better tables/seats.
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Old 10-27-2011, 10:43 PM   #18
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

Nice post, I am turning of my EV line because it does make me mad, and I do check it way too much.
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Old 10-28-2011, 12:43 AM   #19
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

standard thing whenever you run under the ev line you complain about you being so unlucky and when you run above it you don't want to show anyone your ev line. Tbh with you I like your post and think many people know this but they like to act like EV is everything. The EV vs range (gbucks thing) is the most important point though for sure.
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:03 PM   #20
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

Great post Op
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Old 11-20-2011, 03:52 PM   #21
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

Realistically, you could even factor in outside variables to any given poker session. For example, let's say you were supposed to go away for the weekend, but ended up staying home so you grinded out a few sessions. Now, a few thousand miles away from you, some fish decides that he's gonna learn poker after being laid off of his job and he deposits 200$ online and sits at a 100NL table to your right. I would say, regardless of the order of cards about to come out, that you're already running hot. Also, like you mentioned, perhaps you get dealt a ton of 2p+ hands against this fish who flops consistently one pair hands and you manage to stack him twice and he leaves the table and gives up on poker/life. In this scenario, you're 200$ ahead and the EV line hasn't reflected any of it. But clearly, maybe even without know it, you're running hot.
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Old 11-20-2011, 05:03 PM   #22
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

Quote:
Originally Posted by IGot2ManyAccounts View Post
sounds like someone who is up a ton in ev
This.

Also, this thread is pretty pointless. Everyone knows everything you said already, if not, they're not serious pokerplayers. And how your EV turns out is certainly NOT a small aspect of poker. Try to tell the people who has endured 200 BI downswings below EV that it's just a "small part of the game".

The EV line stands out as a good measurement of how good/bad you run because it's easy to read and distinguish. It clearly tells you how often you suck out or gets sucked out on, how lucky you've been in coinflips etc. To actually measure your cooler pots, what kind of ranges you've been running into and so on you'd have to break down your entire database and look into every pot. No software can do this for you.
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Old 11-20-2011, 06:46 PM   #23
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

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You can still be +ev but run "bad" in what seats are available.

If you only have 10 tables to choose from and feel you are +ev, you should still play. Even if you would prefer better tables/seats.
Well I mean youll always be running bad in these ways then. everytime you sit
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:02 PM   #24
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

great read
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:51 PM   #25
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Re: The Truth About the EV Line

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The EV line stands out as a good measurement of how good/bad you run because it's easy to read and distinguish.
Being easy to understand doesn't make it accurate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nirwanda View Post
It clearly tells you how often you suck out or gets sucked out on, how lucky you've been in coinflips etc.
No it doesn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nirwanda View Post
To actually measure your cooler pots, what kind of ranges you've been running into and so on you'd have to break down your entire database and look into every pot. No software can do this for you.
Correct.
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