Evaluating Poker Players - Run Good vs Skill

shorticus

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Here‘s a scenario and I’ll let everyone chime in. Of course I have my thoughts as well, but I want it to be a general discussion first. I’ll share my thoughts later.

You are playing in a game with regulars and there’s a consistent loser at the table. Guy is a whale. Obviously, this guy will have some nights where he wins. That’s to be expected, but the majority of the time said player will be a losing player for the night and over the long run. Suddenly, said player has a solid night. We think nothing right, but then the solid night turns into a solid week, and the week turns into a month, month turns to a quarter, etc. You get the idea.

At what point do we start to reassess and say, “wait a minute, is this guy really a whale? Is it really run good, or did this guy get better?”

This is completely hypothetical so if you’ve played with me before, don’t flatter yourself, it’s not about you. :ROFL: :ROFLMAO:
 

shorticus

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But is it about you? ;)
Even if I was a whale at one point, I’d never admit it to myself. At that point, I’d have to quit poker. :ROFL: :ROFLMAO: :ROFL: :ROFLMAO: :ROFL: :ROFLMAO:

Edit: Actually, scratch that. I’m wayyyyyyyy too broke to be a whale! This clearly cannot be about me Lol!
 
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CraigT78

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Here‘s a scenario and I’ll let everyone chime in. Of course I have my thoughts as well, but I want it to be a general discussion first. I’ll share my thoughts later.

You are playing in a game with regulars and there’s a consistent loser at the table. Guy is a whale. Obviously, this guy will have some nights where he wins. That’s to be expected, but the majority of the time said player will be a losing player for the night and over the long run. Suddenly, said player has a solid night. We think nothing right, but then the solid night turns into a solid week, and the week turns into a month, month turns to a quarter, etc. You get the idea.

At what point do we start to reassess and say, “wait a minute, is this guy really a whale? Is it really run good, or did this guy get better?”

This is completely hypothetical so if you’ve played with me before, don’t flatter yourself, it’s not about you. :ROFL: :ROFLMAO:
Possibly the whale decided to take a month of off drinking.
 

Jimulacrum

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You describe this player as a whale, and that gives me the impression that he (a) brings a lot of money and isn't afraid to play with it, and (b) plays way too many hands and takes them too far.

Is he still playing too many hands and taking them too far, even through his winning streak? If so, he's most likely on a heater (and perhaps there's some chance it's cheating).

On the other hand, does it seem like his play has tightened up as he has entered his winning streak? If so, your whale may have evolved into a shark.
 

shorticus

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You describe this player as a whale, and that gives me the impression that he (a) brings a lot of money and isn't afraid to play with it, and (b) plays way too many hands and takes them too far.

Is he still playing too many hands and taking them too far, even through his winning streak? If so, he's most likely on a heater (and perhaps there's some chance it's cheating).

On the other hand, does it seem like his play has tightened up as he has entered his winning streak? If so, your whale may have evolved into a shark.
For the purposes of this conversation we can say with certainty that said player is not a cheater.
 

Jake14mw

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Results is piece of data to evaluate a player, and as you said, it can vary a lot. A quicker way to evaluate, or characterize is examining how he is playing. If he has tightened things up, or has improved his tactics, you can see that much quicker than examining his wins and losses.
 

Mefenn

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Here‘s a scenario and I’ll let everyone chime in. Of course I have my thoughts as well, but I want it to be a general discussion first. I’ll share my thoughts later.

You are playing in a game with regulars and there’s a consistent loser at the table. Guy is a whale. Obviously, this guy will have some nights where he wins. That’s to be expected, but the majority of the time said player will be a losing player for the night and over the long run. Suddenly, said player has a solid night. We think nothing right, but then the solid night turns into a solid week, and the week turns into a month, month turns to a quarter, etc. You get the idea.

At what point do we start to reassess and say, “wait a minute, is this guy really a whale? Is it really run good, or did this guy get better?”

This is completely hypothetical so if you’ve played with me before, don’t flatter yourself, it’s not about you. :ROFL: :ROFLMAO:
Someone has been watching some videos.
 

DrStrange

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Wins and losses cloud vision. Pay more attention to showdowns, positional awareness and bet sizing. How is the player handing their blinds and defense? Cold calling preflop without being deep enough?

Really, you should just be able to watch and see the whale is getting lucky or if the player has evolved a bit. This sort of skill growth doesn't often happen over the span of a couple of sessions.

Absent evidence of new skills, I presume it is mainly luck. Highly risky players with deep pockets can rack up rather impressive wins ( and losses ). Pay closer attention and see what can be learned.

DrStrange
 

Nanook

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As others have said, you have to evaluate his play. Watch what he is doing. How many hands is he playing, how many showdowns does he go to etc. A good player should be able to evaluate within a very short time (1 or 2 orbits max) if he is actually a whale/maniac or what not. There are certain things that good players just don't do and weak/bad players do over and over again. It should be obvious and if it is not then you need to spend time studying your own game.
 

Mongoose

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All comes down to decision making. Is this player making bad plays but sucking out or is he now getting his money in good?
 

Jimulacrum

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Really, you should just be able to watch and see the whale is getting lucky or if the player has evolved a bit. This sort of skill growth doesn't often happen over the span of a couple of sessions.
It's true that this type of skill growth happening all of a sudden one day would be bizarre.

Less bizarre, however, would be a player who was skilled in the first place going on a tilt bender (or playing intoxicated, or being undisciplined, or approaching the game with a fundamentally bad strategy) and then later realizing it and shaping up. Or as others have mentioned, he was just on such a legendary cold streak that people thought he was a whale, and now it's over.
 

DrStrange

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It is very unlikely for a strong player to go on a long losing streak playing big bet poker. Same thing with a losing player going on a long hot streak.

A +10BB/hour win rate is hard to suppress via bad luck. ( same thing with a -10BB/hour turning to wins ) Of course a winning player can get off his/her game and spew money. But it isn't due to bad luck alone, the causes are primarily bad play. Occasionally a wave of really good new players or really bad new players joining the game will shift the balance of power. But this should be glaringly obvious.

These legendary losing streaks are stories from limit poker. Places where win rates are one to two BB per hour and the variance is well over ten bb per hour. Lady luck can be cruel in those games. But in a big bet game with huge win rates for the best players - - - - those sorts of people don't have long losing streaks.

There are plenty of players in the middle of the pack, winning less than 5bb/hr or losing less than 5bb/hr. If this is your poker life, then sure, you are going to have soul crushing runs of bad luck or ecstatic runs of good luck.
 

Nanook

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It is very unlikely for a strong player to go on a long losing streak playing big bet poker. Same thing with a losing player going on a long hot streak..................
Well said & everything spot on. If you don't understand what or why DrStrange is saying what he says in his post above then either 1 of 2 things should be true: a) you just don't care too much about winning or losing or b) you need to spend some time on your own game so you can consistently beat the game you are choosing to play in.

btw:
If you fall into the a) category then good for you and you are welcome in my game anytime. I will never criticize your play or make fun of you or complain, EVER. Go on the biggest rush in the history of poker & I'll say go get em tiger....
 

Rhodeman77

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My game is mostly filled will the same group of 5-6 players with a bunch others that play when they can or when a seat is available.

with a regular group it is very easy to pigeon hole players into certain play styles and strategies. Too often players miss changes in others players games and fail to realize they are making the same plays over and over again themselves.

It is very common for me to get a call or text from a regular saying I had been winning pretty consistently for the last month and now I haven’t won in 2 months and I don’t know what to do.

Of course I usually can see what they have been doing wrong along with how they aren’t adjusting to how others are playing them. I will give them some general pointers of what I have observed. After all I don’t want to lose a player because they are losing too much!

The point of my story is to be constantly observing your players. Are they learning and growing? Have they been observing you/others and figured out betting patterns?

As my first manager when I was 16 told me, you are either green and growing or red and rotten.
 
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Legend5555

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IT‘S HYPOTHETICAL!!!!!!!!!
tenor-3.gif
 

Taghkanic

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Maybe he was a whale, but did some thinking about your game and some studying?

OTOH, it could be rungood.

I posted a while back about a guy I’ve played with for 10 years, who is spectacularly bad.

I’ve tracked our game’s results for about seven of those years, and the data prove that he is far and away the worst of our group. And I’d venture he is the worst I’ve played with regularly in any game...

... BUT we all still talk about a roughly 10-week period one Spring years ago where the worst player who ever lived simply *destroyed* our game, and others he played in. It was remarkable.

And then he went back to being absolutely terrible.

What was going on there? Three main things I think:

1) Insane rungood which overcame even his awful habits;

2) Because of his rep for being awful, during that time he constantly got action, since people were used to him showing up with garbage;

3) Confidence. The rungood changed how he played—for a while. Normally a loose-passive station, he started to mix in aggression and bluffs more when he felt like he could not lose. But eventually he overdid it, and also stopped catching every 2-4 outer on the river.

Being a terrible player, he learned nothing from the changes he made while feeling confident, and reverted to form.

So... While I’d lean toward your guy just improving his game, it’s possible with time it will go back to the norm.
 
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