Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Ignorant Factor

Lady Luck...if she exists...has not been very kind to me lately. I've been experiencing more and more losses with "strong" hands at showdowns than I have ever before. And I initially attributed it to my terrible "luck." But after watching my opponents play and after watching them beat me time after time even when they call my preflop all-in reraise with crap like 52s, I realized that there was something else going on here.

If luck exists, then my luck is terrible. My streak of losing with pocket Kings at the showdown has grown to 12. That's 12 consecutive times I went all-in preflop with pocket Kings to lose at the end to other hands (although once was against Aces). Poker aficionados know the odds of many things. I must ask though, what are the odds of losing 12 times in a row with pocket Kings at the showdown when people call my all-in preflop raise? I remember reading somewhere that Paul Phillips gave up tournament poker for a year or so after he lost twice in a row with pocket Aces. Well, Mr. Phillips, that's nothing compared to my streak. I have felt like cashing out all my money and just forgetting about poker. What are the odds of that? And my Ace-Queens have been less than marginal lately. Why is it that when I go up against an Ace-Little with my Ace-Big, the Little card always hits and mine doesn't? Sigh.

I'm sure some of you may think I'm exaggerating. But I'm not. But I don't really care whether you believe me or not. This really happened and is still happening to me. I have yet to win with pocket Kings.

But before I was about to cash out all my money, I began to realize something. These draw-outs are mathematically incredible, yes, but they are not impossible. And I realized that I was just experiencing more and more bad beats because I was playing against more and more ignorant players. By ignorant, I mean people that have no idea as to what starting hands are statistically "better" to play than others. These people have no idea what the odds are of hitting their inside straight draws or flush draws. They're just playing like they feel like. And of course, I'm playing against more and more of these types of people because of the great poker boon.

Now, I was finally beginning to understand why some seasoned poker players were lamenting the boom in popularity of poker. These newbies are calling big raises with hands that more experienced players wouldn't even dream of calling with. Against more "knowledgeable" competition, certain plays would cause certain reactions. But against new players, the reactions are all different because they do not understand the signals you are sending. They do not know that their hands are huge underdogs to overpairs and whatnot. They don't understand the difference between playing at a full table versus a short-handed table. They're just playing because they saw people on television play. They have the "if Drew Carey called with this, why shouldn't I" mentality.

One of the many interesting things I've also noticed is that PokerStars is becoming more like PartyPoker. I'm seeing people crying, "only on pokerstars..." A phrase I never used to hear on PokerStars but frequently heard on PartyPoker. "Only on PartyPoker..." was the single phrase (after all the cursing) I used to hear the most.

So, the increase in draw-outs and improbable streaks as the one I have going right now are the results of more and more inexperienced players calling against me. Eventually, I hope my streak ends and that my hands will return to statistical normalcy. But for now, I just gotta ride it out, I guess.