Urgh, overconfidence is a killer. I have now completed the 50 online $2 + 0.20 heads-up tournaments I previously mentioned. You may remember my goal was to win 70%. Well, I didn’t make it. The good news is I won more than I lost – 52%. The bad news is that with entrance fees, a win rate of 55% is required to break even. I lost $6 and so ended up with $66; a little disappointing.
It all started so badly. I’d like to think it was just variance – that the luck of the cards means that sometimes you are just going to lose. However, reading that goal-setting blog post and remembering those first few games, I think I might have been overconfident. I improved a little over time. If I played the first 25 like the second 25, then I would have made a small profit, but still a long way from the 70% goal.
Like my first posting, I think the main problem is my attitude. While playing this 50 I kept a record of whether I considered I played “well” or “badly”, together with the final result. My definition of playing badly included: not starting in an appropriate frame of mind; getting disheartened during the match; chasing pots; or bluffing too much even when the other player was betting back. Those are my main vices. Just today I played a match where after I ground the other player down for 10 minutes, I went all in on the turn with a full house and then lost on a 2-outer as they made a slightly better full house on the river! Despite still having a playable stack (around 30BB), I was tilted and busted stupidly a few hands later. That was badly played. Playing well meant I played mostly calmly the entire match, allowing a few small bad hands as long as they were non-terminal. Notably, the maths of poker did not count for much in categorisation. If both players went all in pre-flop after just a few hands (a surprisingly common experience), then it was considered well played if I was ahead at the start (the normal situation). One game defied categorisation as the other player disappeared after 2 hands and had to be blinded out. Thus there were 49 entries.
I played well 59% of the time. When playing well I won 72% of the time. When playing badly I won only 20% of the time. Even allowing a bias towards saying I played well if I won and badly if I lost, that is still a big difference. Playing badly 40% of the time is way too high. If I played well every match, as I should, then I would be close to my original goal. So the goal for the next 50 is to win 30 (60%), by playing well 80% of the time. To that end, here is my beginner’s advice (from a beginner to a beginner), which I will try to follow over the next 50: