“In God We Trust, all others bring data.” -Edward Deming

You’ve known that I have for a long time tried hard to figure out what is the appropriate session length in poker.  It’s so much harder than Sklansky’s clever but not useful cliche, "Don’t quit winners", or Mike Caro’s advice "You’re always even" (so don’t try and get even before you leave the game).

So you’ve previously seen me do analysis of my session lengths and my profit.  I’ve decided to try an experiment for a months, and play poker like a disciplined Wall Street trader.  For the games I play, I’ve set a profit mark, and when I hit that mark I stand up, and head over to the board and see what other games I can get into.  For $6/$12 limit hold’em, $1/$2 no limit, and $4/$8 O8 I’m generalizing that a $100 profit is a pretty good mark.  These numbers could be completely wrong, who’s to say?  But I’m curious about how this experiment will go.

I’ve only had three sessions, but they’ve been hilarious.  I played Omaha/8 for an hour and fifteen minutes, and hit my target.  I then got called for a $6/$12 game, did the same thing in fifteen minutes, and left the card room with a $250 profit.  Could I have made more?  Yes, possibly.  But I also could have lost that and more.

I had a very different experience last night, when I played $6/$12 for three hours and basically floated within $60 of my starting $200, never getting strong cards and aggressive opponents at the same time.  Finally in my fourth hour I hit a couple of good pots, the last of which put me at +$150, so I got up and left.

There’s a tendency to think of this as "a job" with these parameters, but I’m attentive to that.  During my last Omaha/8 game I caught myself thinking really hard about a decision:

I’m in the pot with 5 people, and the board comes with 6-7-8-9-10.  So there’s a straight on the board.  I figure one or more people have a straight, but nobody seems particularly aggressive.  On the river there’s a bet and then it’s my option.  I’m holding A237, one suited.  I’ve got the low, but am I likely to split it with someone else?  Well maybe.  But maybe the only people left in this hand will be chopping up the high straight.  If I raise and I’m the only low, I make more money.  If I’m the low and someone else has a non-split high, then we’ll possibly squeeze someone in between us and both make more money.

I consider the risk of getting only half the low and decide to raise.  There are two folds, one cold call, and the original bettor calls.  As predicted they both had the high but I won the only low, which means my raise pumped the pot for me, and robbed them of half of every dollar they put in.

Would I have thought so hard about this raise before?  I’d like to think so, but I also know that if I’m going to play slightly fewer hours of cards per session, I’m going to give each decision a little more thought.  I’m tracking my sessions and in particular, my stack size every 30 minutes during each session.  I’ll be posting results here.