In Defense Of Grinding – The ‘Peter Principle’ And Poker

Poker Economy, Psychology, Strategy
January 29, 2009

“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence” – Dr. Lawrence Peter, The Peter Principle

“In a cardroom, every player tends to move up until he can no longer beat the game” – me, right now.

Dr. Peter’s observation was originally intended as somewhat of a joke, as is my corollary.  But like many jokes, there is some underlying truth involved.  Peter’s observation was this: if you have an hierarchical organization of people, and each person has a fixed set of skills, and you promote people based on competence you will inevitably promote any given individual to the point where they are not competent, and there they will remain.

It’s not hard to see how the same situation can develop in poker. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m Back, Some Updates, And Thoughts On The Poker Economy

Poker Economy
September 8, 2008

OK, it’s been WAY too long since I’ve posted.  Sometimes I just go through periods where poker doesn’t interest me much.  That said, I’ve got a burst of motivation so I’m going to get some new content up here.  Here’s what’s on the agenda for the next few weeks:

  • A bunch of “CardSharp Mailbag” features based on all the mail I got and didn’t answer the last few months
  • Some more postflop material for NL holdem
  • Beginner strategy articles for limit holdem and Omaha 8
  • A review of Cogert’s Play Razz Poker To Win – he was nice enough to send me a copy, so I should get my ass in gear and review it.

All that aside, I want to comment on the poker economy a bit.  It’s pretty clearly going through a bit of a downturn at this point, at least in terms of cash game availability (I haven’t been watching the tournament circuit too closely).  There’s probably a lot of reasons for this – the NL holdem fad is beginning to wear off, for starters.  The slower economy also means there’s not as much loose cash being dropped by the tourists.  Therefore we can expect the standards of play to rise somewhat at the midstakes and higher as the ratio of pros to fish changes for the worse.  Over time things will even back out as some of the pros quit or move down, but for now, things are IMO a bit ugly out there.  One thing worth noting is that as the NL holdem boom cools off, it’s good to know other games.  These games have the virtue that there was no boom, so there isn’t as much shrinkage when the boom ends.  Also, the average quality of play tends to be worse at the midstakes.

To help CardSharp’s readers cope with this, I’m going to add more content that isn’t NL holdem.  For now I’m going to start with limit holdem and Omaha 8, but PLO is a likely addition in the near future. Hopefully everyone enjoys the new articles.

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The Pro Poker vs. Pro Sports Analogy

Poker Economy
May 19, 2008

I was listening to the local country station today, and they happened to play a Toby Keith song where he’s discussing his semi-pro football career. The lyrics go

Semi-pro always means semi-paid

Which got me to thinking about the economics of athletics in comparison to poker. Read the rest of this entry »

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A tale of Twelve Dollars – Stack Size For Limit Games

Poker Economy, Strategy
September 30, 2007

I was playing crappy Colorado casino poker yesterday when a noteworthy situation arose. The game was $5 limit holdem. That’s right, 0ne $5 blind and all bets are in increments of $5. It’s hard to imagine a worse structure. But this isn’t about the structure. It’s about one of the worst plays I’ve ever seen at limit holdem. And It’s a bad play that happens surprisingly frequently and that many players probably don’t even think of as bad play at all. Read the rest of this entry »

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When should you stop playing?

Poker Economy, Psychology, Strategy
September 21, 2007

Ever since I wrote the last bankroll management article, I’ve been getting search hits for “craps bankroll management”. I feel sorry for these folks, because I doubt anything I said dissuaded them from their belief that somehow they could beat craps if only they played their money right. It’s important to understand why there are useful bankroll management principles that apply to poker, but there’s nothing to be done about craps. The difference is that poker, if played correctly, offers you a series of positive expectation wagers. Craps, in contrast, offers you only negative expectation wagers. So if you keep playing craps, in the long run, you will always lose. In contrast if you play poker skillfully you will always win in the long run. The problem, in poker, is to get to that long run without going broke in the process. That’s what the previous bankroll management article was all about – making sure you have enough money in you bankroll to weather the swings and get to that perpetually profitable long run.

There’s another aspect of poker management that’s worth discussing, and it’s probably a lot closer to what those craps players are thinking of when they think bankroll management: figuring out when to stop playing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Record Keeping & Data Mining

Poker Economy, Strategy
September 16, 2007

Keeping accurate records of your play is important for all poker players. It’s essential for tax purposes to know how much you won or lost in each session, but there’s lots of additional benefits to be gained by having comprehensive records. Specifically, good records will help you improve your win rate over time by highlighting situations where your results are consistently different from your expectations. This process will enable you to develop your game selection intuition. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bankroll Management Primer

Poker Economy, Strategy
August 29, 2007

Bankroll management is a controversial topic, because the term means different things to different people. For a long time, the term has been used to describe fad systems that claim (incorrectly) to beat various house banked negative expectation games like craps. These methods, such as variations on the Martingale system, are of no real use for any purpose. The reason is simple – no amount of varying your bet size will change a negative expectation into a positive one. If the odds are against you, they will still be against you no matter how much or how little you bet. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Best Game In Town

7 Card Stud, Poker Economy, Strategy
August 12, 2007

Here’s something to ponder: imagine that you are suddenly transformed into an incredibly skilled poker player. Specifically, you have a positive expectation at any fair game you could sit at. Let’s further assume you play in a poker town like Las Vegas, LA, or Atlantic City where you had numerous different games & stakes available to you. Now, what game would you play?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Way To Screw It Up Guys

Poker Economy, Psychology, Strategy
July 28, 2007

So, Wil Wheaton’s hanging up his poker spurs. Not just getting canned from pokerstars (which was inevitable), but giving up poker. And he explains pretty clearly why: Read the rest of this entry »

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