Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Big Stack vs. Patience. Guess Who Won?

This is the follow-up to my last post, a few days later than I planned.  I gave this a little extra time as I only had a couple of responses on the Blog, and I asked a few of my online buddies the same question…and I guess few responded because they thought it was kind of a dumb question, which maybe it was.

If you recall, I asked the following:

Situation:  It’s a 10-player 1 table Sit ‘n’ Go, top three get paid, and there are 6 players left.  You’re one of them – IF YOU COULD ONLY HAVE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING TWO OPTIONS, WHICH WOULD YOU PREFER?
  1.     A big stack to punish the other five players, or
  2.     Absolute patience to pick your spots in order to get to be one of the Top 3.

I reminded posters that they could not have both patience and a big stack.  I also asked them to explain why they chose as they did.

To little surprise (except me, I guess), everyone said “Big Stack.”

Those that did explain themselves usually said something akin to “It’s easier to punish people with a big stack” and “you can take more chances.”  I get that.

The thing is, poker isn’t (necessarily) about taking chances.  It’s about making the best of what you do get.  It’s about making fewer mistakes than the other guys, and pushing them into making mistakes that pay (you) off.  You can do that with a big stack, and for some, I would think it would be easier based on not skill, but luck and bullying.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen players get a big win by luck (their suited 8-9 makes a four-flusher in spades to two red Aces, for example), and then plunge in to try to re-double their luck with pretty much any two cards, thinking they can beat their opponents senseless merely by the size of their bets.  Push, push, push…until someone gets a hand and breaks them, and their big stack is whittled in half.  So whatever advantage they had is gone.  This is hardly using a big stack effectively.

And yet, I see it over and over and over.

If only they had the patience to wait, take chances when they had the best of it, and lure opponents into a trap rather than use blunt force.  If only they used their muscle (their big stack) like a knife, cutting pieces of their opponents bit by bit, rather than all at once as a nuclear device.

Tell me if I’m wrong in what I see,

I am a strong believer in patience.  Not that I don’t like a big stack – it is the overall object of the game, after all.  But there is a reason we say “building a stack” instead of “having a stack (magically appear).”  Skyscrapers aren’t put up all at once – they’re built.  One doesn’t obtain an automobile from a 3-D printer (not yet, anyway) – it’s built with craftsman-like skill.

So should your poker playing be like the craftsman – you can’t conjure up a big stack, you have to create it.  Luck is based on statistics, and if you’re playing hands that only give you a 1-in-6 chance of winning, in the long run, that’s what’s gonna happen.  

In the next few posts I will dive further into how patience can get you the big stack you want. 


But you’ll have to be patient….

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