Analyzing your game: Are you outplaying the table?
This article was originally posted on http://www.tournamentpokeredge.com/dap/a/?a=961
In this article we will talk about a very important concept: knowing when your outplaying someone. This involves honest, critical self analysis which is never a easy thing. It seems like a simple straightforward concept but it's very easy to delude yourself into thinking you are outplaying someone.
A Common Situation
For example say you have 10bb in the sb you decide to jam only the top 5% of hands and you happen to get AK and your calls with A5o. Did he make a mistake? Are you outplaying him here? He's making a bad call vs your range but if he has no way of knowing this, he's not making a mistake because you should be jamming wide enough to make a A5o a snap call. Due to incomplete information there will invariably be spots where you're making a good decision based on the information but end up making a very -ev play. In the long run your actually gonna be the one getting outplayed in this blind vs blind situation because your folding way too much in the sb, giving the bb way more walks than he should get.
A mistake is when you misinterpret the information you have, causing you to take incorrect lines. Lets take the A5o example again just with more information to show the difference between taking -ev lines that aren't your fault and taking -EV lines that are your fault. Lets now say that you have been playing with this guy for 10 hours and his stats are 8/7/2 over 500 hands, he's berating people for making standard very EV shoves, his OPR stats are awful, and you see him pass up many good spots to open shove and reshove. You now have pretty solid evidence that this guy is a huge nit so you will actually be making a mistake if you call with the Q8.
Knowing when and where you're outplaying someone is very important. You have to know where your edge is coming from. But you cant know if you're outplaying someone if you don't know how to play correctly. For example the guy in the sb with the 5% jamming range is obviously feeling like the guy who calls the Q8o is a idiot and that he is the superior player. There are many less extreme examples of this. I often hear players 3b the CO on the button and then laugh when the guy 4bet jams air because he's " never bluffing there" . Well he probably should be bluffing there and he's losing money the same way the guy in the sb does with the 5% jamming range, by missing out on many spots to pick up chips. So whenever you think your outplaying someone by them calling/raising you thinking that your bluffing in a spot that your never actually bluffing, think whether or not your making a mistake by NOT bluffing there. Also think about whether or not he should know that your not bluffing there based on the information.
Its this kind of self analysis that can really help your game and not delude you into thinking that your a great player (myself included MANY MANY MANY TIMES).. Its very easy to delude yourself into thinking your making great plays or playing great. There is so much luck and variance in poker that goes way beyond the obvious suckouts and coolers. You can bluff in a spot where you need your opponent to fold 40% of the time when he's only gonna fold 5% of the time and if it turns out he had the bottom 5% of his range and he folds you might not know that you made a terrible play. You can make calls that win the pot on the river when your getting 2 to 1odds when you really only have a 10 in 1 chance of winning. You can make value bets that look genius when they call you with worse but have it turn out to be that he would only call you 10% of the time with a worse hand.
This is the stuff that keeps every player from improving, even great players. Its so easy to fall for this stuff because its so hard to know what peoples actual range is and its also very hard to think about the long run for most people. The 1st problem is a lot harder to deal with , the second problem is a lot easier. Just being aware of these things will help you in the effort to not delude yourself. You will notice (especially if you play live) people doing this all around you. People making these bad plays and being oblivious to how bad it was because they won. Some of you might be thinking this may be obvious but what about when your bluffing in a spot where u need folds 40% of the time but he's only folding 30% of the time and you win anyway? Would you know you made a mistake? Or would you feel like a boss for pulling off this bad ass bluff?
The Proper Mindset
We are all fallible and we all delude ourselves from time to time don't be embarrassed if you catch yourself doing this even after reading this article. This happens to everyone almost every time they play and if nobody was susceptible to delusion there would either be no games or the games would be comprised of almost all good players. As professional poker players this is where our money comes from. The people who delude themselves because they dont do honest self analysis. Let me save you a little time on the self analysis part, YOU SUCK, I SUCK, WE ALL SUCK! Thats such a important thing to admit it keeps you hungry , it keeps you humble and it keeps you always working and analyzing yourself making sure you don't ever get delusional
This doesn't mean playing with no confidence because you think you suck. You will feel empowered when you play because you know you suck and everyone else is just deluding themselves thinking that they don't and are just playing oblivious to their mistakes. So admit that you suck and you will be one step closer to greatness! GL guys
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