Poker is a war of attrition. It is a war that you are in for the long haul. How you do in any particular hand, session, week,or month, is just not very important.
I understand that it is much easier to say if you have a large bankroll, but good players think in terms of getting the best of it over time. Winning poker players get a good hourly rate out of the games that are available for selection.
Money management is important, but self-control is even more important in achieving this.
Those who want to play poker seriously need to have a strategy.
They need to know exactly what their reasonable financial goals are, based on bankroll depth and the choice of games available.
My friend seeks to make $3,000 a month, a modest and reasonable goal for a medium-limit player.
He plays about 100 hours a month— $30 an hour would accomplish his goal.
He plays the $20- $40 and $30-$60 games, in which a good hourly rate of one and a half big bets an hour can earn you $60-$90 an hour.
These games offer a mix of inferior opponents and highly skilled players.
Because of the skilled players, my buddy struggles to reach his $3,000 monthly goal.
This same player could compete at the $15-$30 limits and always be one of the best players in the game.
His $30 an hour target would be a slam dunk in that game.
At the lower limits, swings dictated by fluctuation and standard deviation would be much smaller than in the higher-limit games.
The stress level in his life would be greatly reduced.
My friend is afflicted with a syndrome that is common to poker players — he just wants to play, the higher the better.
It’s more fun that way. A person’s ego is better fed competing at a higher level.
The adrenaline pumps faster with more at risk. And to a certain extent, the people who play in higher-limit games
are often more nteresting — they are people who have been more financially successful, have done better with their lives,
and play in the bigger games. But none of that should matter.
A player needs to handicap the situations and the profit potential of each poker game.
Poker players tend to be extremely ego driven. If you don’t believe that you can win, you won’t be in the game,
but that same ego drives us to play higher than perhaps we should, to overrate our own abilities.
I’ve read that 95 percent of American males consider themselves to be above average drivers.
Obviously, some are mistaken. The same seems to be true of poker players.
I have recommended to my friend that he keep accurate records. This can be a great help in managing your poker career.
Keep track of the money that you have won and the limits and hours that you have played.
See where you perform best. Sometimes, people perform better at high limits due to either increased intensity,
changes in the style of play, or ante structure. Sometimes, people play better in lower limits because their strengths
apply to less experienced players. My friend needs to find his level and play within it.
Of course, he doesn’t want to hear that he should be playing at lower limits.
He wants to compete with the big boys, and go for the big bucks.
You need to maintain yourself through the ebbs and flows of your poker career.
Make each play a learning experience, and make your game grow.
My friend would have been much better off making the effort to learn something to improve his game than focusing on trying
to get even for the day. Getting the best of it in the long run should be the focus.
They say that when you are up to your ass in alligators, it is hard to remember that your initial objective
was to drain the swamp. But you can’t forget the objective. Every single hand starts a new universe of results.
The deck doesn’t care how you’ve been running, whether your rent is due,
or how badly you’ve just been snapped. The right play is always the right play, based on the situation.
If you lose sight of that, and start letting extraneous factors drive your poker decisions, you’re destined to lose.
I don’t know whether my buddy’s going to make it in poker. He’s on the edge. He’s smart enough. He cares enough.
He can do it. But he has to make the decision to make the right decision, regardless of short-term results.
He has to not get so caught up in the battle that he loses the war — and so do you.