Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Is The Aquarium Drying Up?

I was playing around with PokerTracker last night looking at the summary tab for filters with different numbers of minimum played hands. What I found was quite interesting. See Below:

Min # Hands - Win%/Lose%
10 - 44%/56%
30 - 46%/54%
50 - 48%/52%
70 - 49%/51%
100 - 50%/50%
150 - 52%/48%
200 - 55%/45%
300 - 59%/41%
400 - 63%/37%
500 - 62%/38%
600 - 68%/32%
700 - 63%/37%
800 - 71%/29%
900 - 71%/29%
1000 - 80%/20%
1500 - 100%/0%

This is not exactly what I was expecting. I read somewhere that only 10% of the people can be long term winners at poker, with 90% being long term losers. It always bothered me that the summary tab was reporting something like a 46%/54% split. In the short term luck will dominate and you should get close to a 50%/50% split before the rake. I figured that as you moved to the long-term (more hands played), the win% would start to drop off. It does not! First of all, these stats are for NL holdem only (.50/1 mainly). What this tells me is that the fish don't last very long. They give it a try, and if they are unlucky at first, they are gone in only a few hands. If they catch lucky at first, they may play a bit longer, but probably not much more than 500 hands before they bust out and quit. I am not sure if they drop down to lower NL tables, switch back over to limit, or quit entirely. The point is that they don't really come back. This is a big problem. To support the long term winners, you need a constant supply of new fish. This is not a problem right now due to the huge popularity of poker, but we are going through fish at an incredible pace, and they are bound to run out at some point. The Aquarium may be drying up! Now, you may think that the for the best players, this is not an issue, but believe me they will be effected as well when the aquarium dries up. Lets break the poker food chain into three simple groups. The fish, the midgrade player who can eat up the fish, but gets beat up by the best players (The eagles). The eagles can feed on the fish or the midgrade players. The midgrade players earn enough from the fish to make up for what they give to the eagles and can play break even or slightly profitable poker. When the aquarium dries up, the midgrade players will not have the fish they require, and will start to become losing players due to the eagles constantly circling overhead. Some of these midgrade players, especially the break even ones, will give it up at this point. So the eagles will no longer have a supply of fish to eat, and will also have fewer low end midgrade players to munch on. This will reduce the win rates of the eagles as well. The whole food chain is effected when there is a crisis at the bottom. This is simple evolution (Intelligent Design not required here). So what am I trying to say here? Enjoy it while it lasts. Things will get tougher going forward. Raise your game to the level of an eagle before your brand of play becomes extinct. And when you get there, don't expect you win rate to improve that much. You will need to constantly improve just to maintain your win rate. Many years ago they used to spread NL cash games in casinos. The games eventually dried up as the best players took all the money and the average players gave up. It then was limit city for many many years until the latest rebirth of the NL cash game. Watch for history to repeat itself.


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