Idiotic poker axiom #572

"Just because you are making money, doesn’t make you a favorite in a game."

Sometimes you’re not a favorite because you’re just not good enough to hold your own with the other players.  But sometimes you are pretty good, but your skill is diminished by the fact that there’s a lot of people calling the flop, and someone’s getting really lucky cards.

One of the big leaks in my poker hobby is the inability to walk away from a game when I’m up.   If I’m up by 100% in no limit, or 30 big bets in limit poker, I’m at the the statistical high for me.   But I generally stay, thinking I can make more.  Rarely I do, sometimes I give some of it back, and occasionally I give it all back and go into the red.

The last HORSE game was an example of my need to set a profit limit.  I was at a decently soft but high variance table and I’d run my $70 stack up to $140.  I hit the bad end of variance and started to give back, finally finishing with a profit of $15 instead of $70. 

Although poker author David Sklansky says you should never quit a game where you’re the favorite, the application of that axiom is not easy.   Just because you’ve made money at a game doesn’t mean you’re a favorite.   In high variance games with six people playing each pot and three to four showing down hands, you will ride wild swings of variance, reducing your skill level significantly.

If you make money in that situation, it might be skill or it might be luck.  But you have to be pretty good to know the  difference.   If you aren’t sure, you shouldn’t be taking chances with longer sessions. 

I made money on friday but didn’t really take the luck factor into consideration.    And that’s when I gave back $55.   A clearer head would have hung up for the night when I’d doubled my stack, but I mis-attributed my success to all skill, discounting luck.

Hence my idiotic poker player’s axiom: Just because you are making money, doesn’t make you a favorite in a game.

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