PART II August 7th 2007
PART I August 3rd 2007
Lessons from Phil Ivey
Running Bad Part II - It’s Bad to Always Get Your Money in Good
February 29th, 2008
In my last tip I wrote about running bad and the effect it can have on your mental state. Now I’m living it. If you’ve been following my $0 to $10K Challenge, you know it took me about nine months to turn $0 into $100 and another nine months to turn that $100 into $10,000. Even though I hit my goal, I decided to keep playing and rapidly built up to $28,000. Three months later I was down to $9K.
Obviously, I was on a very bad losing streak, but it wasn’t due to bad beats. I just kept getting my money in bad; every time I had Queens, my opponent would have Aces - every time I had AQ, they would have AK. That’s just how it goes sometimes, but getting your money in badly doesn’t always mean that you’ve done something wrong.
For example, if my opponent gets all his money in pre-flop when he’s got Kings and I’ve got Aces, does that mean he’s a bad player because he got his money in poorly? Or that I’m a great poker player because I got my money in well? Obviously the answer is no – if our roles were reversed I’d be the one going broke. We both played the hand correctly; the fact that he was behind doesn’t mean that he played it wrong. He was simply unlucky to get dealt Kings when I was dealt Aces.
Focusing too much on getting your money in good can actually be a part of playing badly overall. I hear a lot of people complain, “I always get my money in good, but I keep losing… I can’t believe it!” Most of these players just don’t remember the times they’ve gotten lucky with the worst hand. But some people actually do get their money in well a majority of the time. It may be hard to believe, but these people are experiencing the right percentage of hands they’re going to lose – it’s just that these losses result in the players getting knocked out of tournaments because they are playing too tight.
Suppose I’m playing heads up and I’m only going to go all-in with Aces, Kings or Queens. My opponent is pushing me around by raising every single hand and moving in on me with any two cards. Finally, I get a pair of Aces and he moves in again. Even if I win the hand, just think about all the chips he’s taken away from me while I was waiting for my high pocket pair.
If I’ve lost 1,000 chips to him before I put my last 1,000 in the pot - even though I have my money in good - I’m only going to win 1,000 chips back. So, I’m actually employing a poor strategy by waiting for hands that don’t come around often enough because even if I win this hand, I’m only going to break even - and there’s no guarantee that I’m going to win. Plus, the chips my opponent is putting into the pot have been accumulated from all the folding I’ve been doing, so he’s now freerolling even though he’s behind in the hand.
Great players are going to get their money in bad once in awhile, especially if they’re playing against someone who’s playing way too tight. However, they’re actually going to make money over the long run because of all the small pots they win when their opponents are unwilling to challenge their raises without a strong hand. What this means is that if you try too hard to get your money in good all of the time, you’re susceptible to being bluffed and are going to lose more often over a long period of time.
Losing stings, especially when it seems like you’re getting your chips in badly with every hand you play. Still, if you keep your calm and avoid going on tilt, it’s possible to weather a rough patch without making drastic changes to your game. Keep your focus on playing well. Even if you do find yourself “getting your money in bad” from time to time, you’ll end up a winner in the long run.