Minimizing losses by not maximizing wins

by ~ February 5th, 2009. Filed under: General poker strategy, Philosophy and approach, Poker aggression, Weaknesses.

I’m still wondering about decreasing my losses by not maximizing my wins.

I wrote about the differences that I experience between winning and losing and how my desire not to lose may be greater than my desire to win. This has me thinking again about Islewars which I wrote about long ago. Basically, Islewars is a simple DOS game where the winner is the one who dominates the world. It’s a simple version of Risk where you play against 3 computer opponents. You have a choice of settings for the number of countries that you have at the beginning and the random range of armies that each country might have. I played at a setting where I would start behind most of the opponents but overall I would win about 60% of the time.

I think that this is one factor that’s keeping me from maximizing my winnings, and from playing at levels where my win rate would be lower, but my cash inflow would be higher because the stakes are higher.
Last night I was working on my goal of rebuilding my full stack full ring game after months of playing (quite successfully) short stacked. I was in the blinds with QJo when an early position player raised and a late position player called and I called as well. The flop came AT9 so I had an OESD but OOP against two others. I checked, to see what the other players did and they both checked. A low card came on the turn. I checked again, the preflop raiser bet 1/2 pot and the other player folded. This looked to me like a late c-bet at a missed board that no one else had shown interest in. I said aloud to myself, I wonder if I have fold equity, so I raised and he quickly folded.

My plan would have been to check-raise the flop but my competition didn’t cooperate. As it was it worked out fine, but my fear of actually executing the check-raise almost stopped me. It’s only a semi-bluff, which I like to do with decent draws, but the risk of 1) being called and then missing the river, or 2) of being 3-bet, means that I have increased my potential loss with this play.

Short stacking itself is another means of minimizing loss while restricting wins. Just noting that goes a ways to explaining my problem with this aspect also, since short stacking was my principal means of playing ring games for the past few months. Now, whether I played short stack because of some inherent fear of losing, or whether having played short for months has made me fear extending myself, I don’t know.

It could be like a muscle that you use only for items close to you. Then after time the ability to work in extended form atrophies and you need to work it up and rebuild length. Or the differences in eye strain and focus that people experience if they work at a computer all day long versus someone who drives and looks long distances all day long.

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