Thursday, July 22, 2004

Never Judge A Book By It's ....

This was supposed to be a write up about how a "loose/aggressive" player can win out over a "rock" at the $1/$2 LHE 10 seated level. The idea sprang forth because I found myself seated at a table with a well known blogger over the weekend. I have no idea if he knew who I was but I said nothing and neither did he. I was seeing allot of flops that night, around 34% and he wasn't seeing any. The flops he did see brought no action and although I'm sure it appeared I was on the verge of being a "maniac" as my stack would fluctuate 5BB's at a time I was still winning. The other player was slowing bleeding away chips. This could all be attributed to bad cards on his part but the more I thought about it the more I realized I was seeing allot of this from other players as well. After 54 hands this blogger had bled away about 3.5BB's and had only seen two hands to showdown. Of those two hands he lost one. I was up 8.75BB in the same span of hands. Again this could just be a bad run of cards and no single session can be a determination of anything. My curiosity was piqued enough though to follow up and thus here we are.

In order to have some semblance of credibility I went to Poker Tracker for my statistical analysis. I've played 6,212 hands at the 1/2 level but that encompassed allot of players. 1,295 unique players to be exact. Needing a way to dwindle this down I chose to only include players I had seen 100 or more hands against. This doesn't represent any magic number but for percentages I thought this number of hands should give some general idea of individual playing styles. The number that had seen 100 or more hands was 99.

The next step was to determine the criteria by which the players would be filtered. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel I searched the Internet for someone who had broken down Poker Tracker numbers into a style of player types. This should have been easy, but wasn't. I kept reading reference to a 2+2 forum post regarding percentages and playing styles. A search of the forum yielded nothing and so I was left to my own devices. That was until while reading an unrelated thread, I stumbled upon a direct link to the post. The post was written by MS Sunshine and described his breakdown when determining player types. Certainly more time and effort was put into his research than mine so his numbers were adapted for my use. The breakdown as he presented it is as follows:

For ring games:

very tight(under 15%sf)
med tight(22-26%)
med loose(27-33%)
very loose(over 50%)
nutball(with the exact% in note)

very passive(never raises preflop)
passive(< 3%pfr)
med ag(3-6%)
very ag(11-15%)
above 15% I write very ag with %

I assume that the numbers above are for seeing the flop and not VP$IPF(Voluntarily Put Money In Pre Flop) as Poker Tracker presents it. To adjust the figures we need to consider the big blind. For the most part we can see the flop when in the big blind without further cost. To account for this I decreased the above percentages by 2% pre flop. That would bring a VP$IPF for a tight player to 19%. Pre flop aggression is the other key factor in filtering out the players but now I have a problem. Through observation and common sense we know that a player that tight will not want to raise every time they are in a pot. The cards may very well warrant this action and some players will always call but many others will fold if paying any attention at all. This forces the tight player to camoflague the starting hands buy limping in a majority of the time. This has led for a PFR%(Pre Flop Raise Percentage) that really has no significance for me and won't be used for this purpose here.

I had considered myself a rather loose player and although I had no intention of using my own numbers in this analysis things no longer jive. If going off the figures represented above I am not a loose player. I am not a tight player either but fall into the medium loose range most of the time. In fact right now my VP$IPF is at 24.95. That is a point or two lower than usual but still puts me at the low end of loose or high end of tight. My aggression matches the above numbers but when looking at players in the range as above the study becomes a different beast entirley. Poker Tracker will only let me choose a greater than or less than number when filtering player data. In order to be accurate for loose numbers the players need to have a VP$IPF of between 32% and 48%. These figures are very broad and represent 20 players if we include the 100 hands played criteria. Now in considering aggression we can put the PFR% figure back into the equation because alot more hands are being played. I want to look at aggressive players so using the 7-10 range the players are now reduced to 3.

Every one of these three players are a loser in the hands I've seen. In order to bring this back into the realm originally intended though the numbers will have to be reworked. A true loose player is not a winner according to my statistics. If I rework with numbers matching my own which would be the medium tight to medium loose range of 24% to 27% while maintaining the 6-10% aggression pre flop the number of players moves to 4. Still not a large enough sample base but now we see one winning player. This players winnings outdistances the loosers making for a positive expectation in the long run but still nothing indicative of a loose player type being better.

In fact what I have been able to determine while reviewing all of the data is that a vast majority of players at the 1/2 level play incorrectly. Those that play loosely are either to aggressive or not aggressive enough and the majority of tight players are to weak post flop. I know this is ground breaking news and you'll want to rush out and tell everyone. In fact the conclusion makes the whole excercise rather pointless. People have been professing this for ages yet I still had to sift through the data in order to come to the same conclusion.

With that said I need to look at my own play. As stated previously I never intended to use my own numbers in the study but now they become relevant. I am a winning player at this level even though many tight players cry that the 10 seated 1/2 can't be beat. My stats show that a tight player can in fact beat this level and does so at a pretty good rate. My looser style also beats the level and I attribute it to post flop play. I know I push sometimes to hard and can loose big ones but I win bigger ones. To beat a dead horse post flop play is everything. To put the numbers down the tight player criteria mentioned above averaged to the following numbers:

# hands 3,619
VP$IPF 14.98
PFR% 4.73
BB/100 4.19

For comparison here are my numbers:

# hands 6,212
VP$IPF 24.95
PFR% 6.37
BB/100 3.46

So is Loose better than Tight. Not when looking at this data. Is Tight better than Loose. It appears so but more importantly you need to find your comfort level and exploit those at your table to maximize your gain. If you are going to choose a loose or tight style you need to know how to play properly. Both can win... It's up to you to find out how.