Leaks

Aug. 7th, 2005 07:56 am
peterbirks: (Default)
After a player has had a losing session, or a series of them, it's common, if he's at least vaguely competent, for him to go back over his game and to look for "leaks" — parts of his game that are consistently costing him money. Sometimes these are tactical — incorrect play in situations that crop up again and again. Perhaps a play that worked at one level or on one site was negative EV on another. Sometimes these are strategic. Too much watching TV, surfing the web, or other distractions. Or poor game selection.

But what happens if he can't find any leaks? Well, one answer could be that he is just being generally outplayed, and it's time to look for another game at another level. But another answer could be that he is looking for leaks in the wrong place.

As Caro has pointed out, a dollar that you don't lose is worth just as much as a dollar that you win. What he should also emphasize is that a dollar that you fail to win costs you just as much as a dollar that you do lose. In other words, it's just as important to look for leaks in your game when you are winning as it is when you are losing, because these leaks are just as costly.

I think that I am good at plugging my losing leaks. I don't go on serious tilt and I recognize when I am heading towards minor tilt through over-tiredness. No longer do I make those exasperated river calls just so that I can prove to the rest of the table (and to myself) how unlucky I am being today.

But I am not so sure about my "winning" leaks. As I said in a previous post, I am forcing myself to bet for value at the end a lot more when I am checked into. I am jamming hands more than I did, because it is clear that a raise will not frighten people off, so I might as well make the pot bigger (in other words, I was very good at raises that thinned the field, but not very good at ones which built the pot).

But I had (and have) other game and meta-game weaknesses. I still tend to protect my winnings. Although I am now doing so less, and only when a game that I have chosen has suddenly got tougher. When on a winning streak, I am in a rush to sit down. Now I am forcing myself to make sure that a game is attractive before I do so. I am diligently trying to teach myself that, although a number of my opponents are clever, many others are not. If a play by an opponent could be either very clever or very stupid, even at games of high altitude, it's usually better to plump for the "very stupid" line.

Surprisingly, one blog that helped me here was that written by a high-stakes sit'n'go specialist, the Zee Justin site (www.zeejustin.com). I don't care how clever this guy is, if he is playing 10 tables simultaneously, he is mostly playing by rote, and I have a good idea what that rote consists of, at least in the early stages. But he uses good game selection and knows that solid, rather than clever, play, will be enough to beat these guys. The trick, if you are playing 10 tables, is not to make mistakes, rather than to make plays of genius.

So, I reckon that all I have to do is not make mistakes. Sounds easy, huh? And, in a sense, it is. My opponents might have lots of money in front of them; they might have slaughtered lower-stakes games. But they are not superhuman, and they too have leaks in their game. Perhaps they have more than me. I have no wife/girlfriend with whom I might have had a storming argument which could have put me on tilt); I don't drink, so I won't be sitting down overconfident and over-tired. And I don't tilt; I walk away. I don't need to be clever-clever, because if I play steadily and don't let anything get to me then, eventually, even my toughest opponent will let something get to him, and he will crack.

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