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Breakeven Stretch Continues...

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  • Breakeven Stretch Continues...

    Hi guys,

    I hope ya'll making money at the tables. Unfortunately for me I am still on my breakeven stretch. It's really starting to get to me now. Now I am not sure if it just variance, or that may play is bad. I don't know where to start with regards to looking at where I might be going wrong. Anyways I thought I would share this with you guys.

    Please see below:

    Here below is my overall stats, and my stats by postition respectively:

    I understand that my blind play is bad. Any help would be much appreciated. I guess I will have to keep up the grind.



  • #2
    At first glance, stats look reasonably solid.
    This won't be much of a consolation to you, but I'm building a roll on another site and I'm having an even stranger set of results. I just had a 5,000 hand breakeven stretch, but for the 1500 hands prior to that I was winning at a ridiculous 40bb/100, and over my last 1000 I'm winning at 75bb/100. The swings away from expectation are just due to dumb luck.

    Breakeven stretches can be really disheartening, and they can last a very long time. To see just how much variance can be expected in poker, try using the variance simulator at

    I took the liberty of tapping in your current winrate (4bb/100) and a standard deviation of 70bb/100, which is typical for a nitty TAG playing full ring. (You can find your actual Std Dev bb/100 stat - a measure of the "swinginess" of your play - in HEM2).

    Here is the how my simulation came out over 100,000 hands:

    The straight black line in the middle indicates the expected winings, and the smooth green lines on the graph show the confidence interval. 95% of players with an expected winrate of 4bb/100 will have a graph somewhere between the two dark green lines. But look at that crazy bright blue line at the top. That's one guy out of 1000 in the trial that completely CRUSHES the game, due mainly to pure luck. A 4bb/100 winner is expected to win 40 buyins in 100k hands, but that guy wins 133 buyins! Imagine running at over 3 times your EV for 100,000 hands! That's some sick rungood right there, and it's poker variance in action.

    Down towards the bottom, there's a dark red line that represents the biggest loser in the simulation. He's expected to win 40 buyins in 100k hands, but through sheer bad luck, he ends up down 27 buyins. Again, it's variance, and it's completely sick. So if you think breaking even at the moment is bad, imagine losing 27 buyins in 100k hands, when you KNOW you're a winning player.

    95% of players will be within the green zone, either a few BI above or below EV, but on the fringes there are some pretty crazy outliers. In amongst the slight winners and slight losers, there are a lot of people close to EV, but the graph is a bit too cramped to discern the break-even stretches. Fortumately the variance calculator can supply some numbers.

    From the figures lower down the page I linked, I can tell you that if you're a typical TAG with an EV winrate of 4bb/100, then if you were to play 1 million hands, then you have a 39% chance of having a 10 buy-in downswing at some point, and close to a 50% chance of being in the middle of a 7.5 BI downswing. The breakeven stretches are even scarier. The likelihood of you having a 5000 hand breakeven stretch is 65%, and a 10,000 hand breakeven stretch has a likelihood of greater than 50%.
    You're currently on a 35,000 breakeven stretch, and I feel your pain, because I had one myself, but more than a quarter of 4bb/100 winners will experience the same thing if they play a million hands.

    I'll say again that the breakeven stretch is pretty sick, but things could be so much worse. Someone with the same skillset and expected value as you could be going busto right now, purely because of runbad (and bad bankroll management). Variance in poker is brutal, so you'll have to grit your teeth and get used to it. I'd recommend you take a break if it's affecting you mentally, and spend time analysing hands or going to training, so that you're quite sure the bad results are due to mostly bad luck and not bad play.

    If you suspect your play in the blinds is weak, then filter for hands played in those positions where you lost more than 30bb. Post them on the forum if you're not sure if you played them well.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by ArtySmokesPS; Thu Dec 19, 2013, 12:01 AM.
    Bracelet Winner


    • #3
      Hi Arty,

      Thanks for taking the time to look at this - fascinating stuff.

      I know some of it is variance related. For instance, at the end of graph where my all-in coverages with winnings, most of that is attributed to when I had AAs three times and lost to KK, JJ and 55 when all-in preflop.

      The kings made a flush;

      The jacks made a set; and

      The pocket 5s made a flush.

      What concerns me a bit is that my non-showdown winnings in positions EP to BTN were going up with my showdown winnings, and since I have been going on this breakeven stretch, my non-showdown winnings have leveled off for the most part, and recently have gone slightly down.

      Again, this could be variance (I think) where villains keep calling me down when they connect (I think) and I am not connecting so I give up when I feel that I am behind.

      There's something in the non-showdown winnings I believe, since that my showdown winnings remain going up.

      Spltting my stats up between the "non-showdown" winning and the "non-showdown" breakeven stretch, my stats I thinka are the same.

      Arty, if the stats remain the same, and I have a "non-showdown" winning section and a "non-showdown" breakeven section, what do you think that this may represent?

      This could be a one word answer: Variance!

      But in what capacity do you think - villains connecting when I don't, so I give up.

      Cheers for all your help,

      Last edited by pullin1988; Thu Dec 19, 2013, 06:56 PM.


      • #4
        With regard to the break-even stretch, it's true that your showdown winnings (blue-line) is going to be positive to the same degree that your non-showdown figure (redline) is negative. I think the cause is largely due to what I call "hidden variance". You can have many sessions in a row where you're just not hitting flops, so you're often giving up after c-betting and getting called. Then there are sessions where you hit the flop (with TPTK, for example) but your opponent missed completely, so he folds to the c-bet and you get no value.

        When you're running good, you'll hit top pair and villain will have a draw that gives you value. When you're running badly, your value hands don't get paid. Unfortunately, you can't do anything about it. Villain's luck is just as random as yours.
        If villain hasn't got a hand, it doesn't matter that you smashed the flop. To keep up a winning streak, you not only need to connect with the board, you also need a villain to make a second best hand. That's the hidden variance (or "hidden luck", if you like) that's impossible to quantify.

        Your breakeven stretch might continue for a while, or you might suddenly have a bad downswing, or you might have a sick heater. In a perfect storm, not only will you make a few sets, but villains will make worse sets. You'll eventually have a session where you run like God and win several buy-ins, but you'll also have sessions where you get over-setted or over-flushed repeatedly. For most of the time though, poker is a steady grind, where you're averaging 10 small wins and half a dozen losses every 100 hands. Staying focused during breakeven stretches is really hard. Being a break-even grinder is not my idea of fun, and I'm sure it isn't yours either, so you either have to spend time working on your game so you can eke out a couple more bb per 100, or you can take frequent breaks, or learn a new game.
        Do whatever you can to maintain enthusiasm, because if you let the variance get you down too much now, then it will be even tougher if and when you move to higher stakes and your winrate naturally goes down, causing even longer downswings.
        Bracelet Winner


        • #5
          Arty that first post you made is amazing. I didn't know a variance calculator like that even existed.

          Any time randomness (read as luck) exists, variance and deviations from the expected or mean value are to be expected.

          However it is very hard to be objective when you're on a downswing or break even patch. Take a break if you need one but also try to analyse your play. Are there things you could improve on? Downswings for winning players are normally a combination of mainly bad luck but also some sub-optimal play.

          Hopefully you can find some rungood and get out of your break even stretch soon


          • #6
            Staying focused during breakeven stretches is really hard. Being a break-even grinder is not my idea of fun, and I'm sure it isn't yours either, so you either have to spend time working on your game so you can eke out a couple more bb per 100, or you can take frequent breaks, or learn a new game.
            I am still focused on the game, that hasn't changed one bit. You have helped me and I sure others who read ths how bad (good) variance can be. I wouldn't like to a breakeven grinder, as I am sure no one would; however, posting my graphs and having you guys share you thoughts helps me to understand the game better, e.g. variance, etc, and helps me to analyse me game more thoroughly. Having played many games, poker is the game for me. It's a great game that mixs psychology, maths, luck, skill, etc for which you can make a lot of money from.

            Hi Spand42,

            One thing that I do need to do more is analyse my play more. I think there are many areas that I need to improve on, I just need to identify them. I will keep up the grind, and if it the breakeven stretch of a big downswing happens, I will keep going, analysing and hopefully improving my play along the way. Rewards will come to those who work hard.


            Last edited by pullin1988; Fri Dec 20, 2013, 01:54 AM.


            • #7
              some top advice there thanks man


              • #8
                Hello, pullin. I play Zoom 6-max and i'm, at max, a 5 bb/100 winner. I can tell you i have 20k breakeven streches every month. The first one i had was followed by a huge downswing that made me drop 2 levels. Looking back to those sessions, i find that a blew my bankroll due to tilt. So, how do you deal with this every month? Simply you get used to it, start to compreend and accept variance and increase your probability to decrease the breakeven streach by playing solid poker (you will not play your A game, of course). I like to put a lot of volume when i'm breaking even. A take it like it's work to be done before i can have a break and go have some fun. So i do all the hard work and then i can go and have some fun again at the tables when i'm back to winning. And i force my self to stay positive by doing somethin good to myself outside poker. I tend to exercise more when i'm losing/breaking even. So, at the end of the day when i'm thinking "Shit, a blew 4 hours of my day on a card game" i can allways fall back to "oh, but i also went jogging for an hour. Not the worst of days". Stay positive and focused. umbup: Arty, great posts umbup:


                • #9
                  Cheers MrFlopes I appreciate the advice.





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