Why Do I Always Get Unlucky?
Since poker includes a luck element, most losing players overestimate the contribution luck has in their results. More importantly though, humans suffer from how they handle and organise information in their brains around what information they retain. A simple way of explaining this, is that we remember our losses more than our wins.
For example, getting it all in with AA vs 22 is a great situation, but we are only ever an 80% favourite to win the hand. I would imagine that every time a player loses with AA in this spot, they kick and scream about their bad luck. How many times do you hear them say that they got super lucky when they win with 22 in the same spot?
So the first part of this is to understand that the distribution of ‘luck’ is normal and uniform across all players over the long term. Over the long term there is no luck. There is just odds. Even in the above example where we have a massive lead (one of the biggest you can get) we are going to lose that hand once every 5 times! You need to understand the math and realise that being in the lead does not guarantee a win.
Variance is a concept that you need to understand and come to peace with. Variance revolves around the fact that it takes a long time for outcomes to move towards the true odds. What this means is that in the short term anything can happen. In the short term you can lose with aa vs 22 ten times in a row. You need to understand that not only is that possible but that it is going to happen.
The concept of variance is super important when discussing required bankrolls and bankroll managements for moving up stakes. Even a 1 million to one shot, will win once every million times! Here is the thing though, it could win on the first spin too. Let that sink in.
By understanding the odds of outcomes, and the concept of variance you can begin to absorb things that happen to you at the poker table in a calm and calculating way. Once you realise that the ‘bad luck’ you are experiencing is not bad luck at all, but actually the world of probabilities playing itself out then you can turn the corner and your poker game will improve.
Professional’s don’t think they get unlucky, or lucky for that matter. They just shake it off and move on because they understand variance. The key thing here is that if you are of the mindset that the cards are NOT against you and that the world does NOT hate you, then you can focus on playing good solid poker.
The most distinct difference between losing and winners players is this exact difference in mindset, because it affects our emotional state, which of course dictates how many mistakes we make.
Knowledge is power, and any winning poker player understand the maths behind the cards, not because they like numbers, but because it affords them the ability to stay calm when things turn sour. When your action are dictating by statistical analysis you have confidence in them, and that gives you the strength to carry on. Absent of that fundamental understanding, you will be left wandering the wilderness, with empty pockets, wondering how it all went wrong.
If you want to improve you need to firstly understand the odds of certain outcomes. You then need to understand variance and how it affects your bankroll. Once you have the math down you need to work on yourself emotionally and entrench your mindset into an analytical approach.
Do not be results orientated. Make moves that have a positive expectation over the long term and you will print money, as long as you can keep your head in your A game.
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