Tilt analysis

by ~ September 3rd, 2009. Filed under: Instructional posts, Weaknesses.

(I had a few draft posts that I was working on at the same time. Now that I’ve started posting them I notice that a lot of the same themes were woven through many of them)

Here’s something for my “A” game/tilt analysis.

Especially when I’m playing a very cheap game (as I’m doing on on Party Poker right now trying to build a bankroll from tiny amounts to clear the deposit bonus), when do I look at a situation and:

  1. Fold, deciding to wait for a better opportunity/better read,
  2. Fold, deciding my hand is too marginal given the situation/number of players that have shown interest and it’s unlikely that they are all overvaluing their hands
  3. Make a crying call even though the really low levels of poker often bluff poorly, not bluffing scare cards but betting scare cards because they actually chased for that card,
  4. Or go too far when I’m behind thinking that my opponent is overvaluing his hand
  5. Play looser instead of holding tight and waiting for situations that I like. Chasing to try to catch the bad players
  6. Get frustrated and play more aggressively. Similar to chasing to catch the bad players, but betting, trying to “make them pay” for their bad plays
  7. Get frustrated and play longer sessions
  8. Bet/call/raise because I have seen this player make this type of bet before or seen them fold in similar situations previously

In summary, there are times to make certain situational bet/raises/calls (thinking back to my posts of poker playbooks). And other times the exact same bet/raise/call is wrong, not because of the results, but because the situation or what I know of my opponents is different.


The converse is true as well. I think that there is some kind of edge where I make my decisions based on the wrong reasoning. For example, I do better in freerolls when I don’t pay attention to the game and do something else, preferably something off the computer like cooking, cleaning, or reading a book while playing. That way I play the situation new each time the screen pops up with my turn. I play the situation based on the situation, without trying to get tricky, without overreacting to an awful play made by the player who has now openlimped ahead of me, without emotional frustration or anxiety over my stack size, just looking for the next opportunity for me to double up.

So, freerolls are a good starting point for analysis. Let’s stop and look at what I gain and lose by playing this way, and then see if I can figure out how these things offset each other to work out to a net positive for me.

By doing something else and not paying full attention I see less, meaning

  • I lose specific reads on players, like seeing them call down with bottom pair or min-raising with top pair/no kicker or slowplaying big hands
    • (-) I don’t have as many player specific reads
    • (+)(-) I won’t go looking for a player to repeat a play I’ve seen them make in a different situation
  • I don’t see awful plays so I don’t target the worst players
    • (-) I don’t know who makes awful plays to be prepared for them
    • (+) I don’t go out of my way to play against them
    • (+) I don’t get frustrated or exasperated by them
  • Because I have less connection to the game, I have less emotional attachment
    • (-) I don’t get into the flow of the game
    • (+) I can see the forest for the trees, my perspective isn’t narrowed
    • (+) I don’t get frustrated or exasperated by the table in general

I can apply general play analysis based on position/stacks/blinds/cards/HUD stats/general play ability at freerolls without prejudice. I’ve lost some specific reads but I’ve gained objectivity and probably some patience.

If that is a fairly complete analysis then apparently what I gain in objectivity and patience offsets what I lose in terms of specific reads. Again, the HUD is still there so I’m not lost entirely. And generally the play is pretty poor in these so the potential skill advantage that I have is substantial, and I always take into consideration my position and my cards so I should be a fairly decent favorite any time that I do choose to play a hand.

(Later addition: It’s worth noting though that I’ve also been playing some freerolls on another network trying to start a bankroll from nothing. The reason for choosing this one is because the network has a Java based version meaning that I can play it anywhere without installing their software. But I’m also not running a HUD as well as not watching the play so I have no information other than stack sizes. And I’m not even getting close to cashing. The structural difference is that these are turbos in nature and the starting stack sizes are only 1,000 chips so the good player gets less time to use their skill advantage. Between the turbo nature, the lack of a HUD, and plus probably some player skill differences, I’m unable to achieve the success that I have at the private freerolls.)

Now, what can I do with this information? It certainly applies in general when I play cheap tables, or even at $50 tables when I see a bad player. But ideally I should find a means of maintaining this balance while still being able to use a fuller range of my poker thinking ability, ’cause at higher levels my skill advantage is not nearly as great as when I play freerolls, obv.

Things I gain by not paying close attention: Patience, objectivity, willingness to give up hands (I was watching a video of a coach playing $50nl and was surprised at a couple of the hands he folded on the flop with decent holdings), not trying to outread my opponents perhaps? Things I lose: Awareness of specific moves, like overbet-bluffing the river, or calling down with any pair, c-betting missed flops into multiple opponents, chasing draws against pot odds, what kinds of holdings they will call down/donk small with.

Both the things that I gain and the things that I lose are valuable. I need to find a way of getting and keeping the best of both sides.

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