Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Do the Numbers Show?

Secret NumbersIf we’re going to be honest here, I’m basically more of a word guy than a numbers guy. Sometimes numbers fascinate me, though. Especially when they leave me at a loss for words.

Had a happy little session of limit hold’em over on PokerStars yesterday. Was two-tabling for about an hour and 45 minutes or so -- one full ring, one six-handed, both $0.50/$1.00. Played 249 hands and ended up $31.35. That’s an unusually high win rate (12.59 big bets/100 hands), way above the 1.5-2.0 rate I’ve been enjoying since Jan. 1 when I decided to move back over to LHE. Probably highlights a weakness of mine that I’m more apt to look over the stats after that kind of unusually good session than after a losing one.

Whatever the reason, I was doing a little post-game with PokerTracker, trying to see if some factor jumped out to offer an unequivocal explanation for the inordinately high win rate. I had won a lot of my showdowns -- 57.14% -- though not that much more than I usually do (54%). Other stats like preflop raise % and VP$IP (voluntarily put money in the pot) were basically the same, too.

I looked at my starting hands and saw I did get pocket aces three times -- and won all three. That helped considerably, no doubt. Playing just 249 hands, I should normally expect to get A-A just once (it is a 220-to-1 shot), so that was definitely a bonus.

Picked up A-K four times, about what I should expect. Of the 1,326 possible starting hands, there are 12 ways to get ace-king offsuit, and four more ways to get Big Slick suited. That means you normally get A-K about once every 82 hands or so (about 1.2% of the time). So being dealt the hand four times in 249 hands, I got it once more than averages would have suggested. But I lost twice with that hand, and was nearly six bucks down overall with it.

Kept hunting around a bit. Then -- FLASH! -- I saw it. A huge anomaly. Don’t know if it fully explained my high win rate for the session, but it definitely had its effect.

In 249 hands, I was dealt A-Q a total of 14 times. That’s right -- nearly five times as often as I should’ve expected. Got ace-queen offsuit 12 times, and suited twice.

Even crazier, I was dealt ace-queen at one of my tables -- the full ring one -- 11 times in just 112 hands. That means I was getting A-Q about once per orbit, when normally I shouldn’t expect to get it but once every eight orbits or so.

ace-queenHow did I do with ace-queen? Okay, I guess. I won half of the hands (7 of 14), for an overall profit of $6.90 (about half a big bet per hand). Looking at the individual hands, I notice most of the pots were small, with only a couple creeping up to four or five bucks. I raised preflop most of the time with A-Q (11 of 14 hands), though I also folded it once preflop from UTG+1 after a tight player had raised from UTG at the full ring table.

Even if I didn’t necessarily make most of my profit from A-Q, getting dealt the hand so frequently at that full ring table did have a significant effect on my image, I’m sure. My preflop raising percentage was actually higher at the full ring game than it was at the six-max. game yesterday, and while I didn’t necessarily consciously note the frequency with which I was getting ace-queen, I did pick up on the fact that the rest of the players at the table (most of whom were tight, with one notable exception) were starting to react to my relative aggression.

Ace-queen can be a frustrating hand in LHE, no doubt. Especially in full ring games. I think that explains my being relatively unfazed by getting it so often -- I wasn’t necessarily glad to see it over and over again. But I should have been. Not only was it a winning hand for me yesterday, it probably helped me win other hands, too, given the way it helped shape my image.

Am still enjoying the return to LHE after my lengthy sojourn with pot-limit Omaha. Of course, the “stories” about individual hands aren’t nearly as riveting as happens with PLO. I suppose one reason for that is the fact that LHE really is more of a “numbers game” than is PLO.

For some of us, though, the stories numbers tell can still be interesting.

Some of us (of a certain age) may also recall that vaguely suggestive picture above of the men in trench coats flashing numbers as coming from an old Sesame Street short from the 70s. Really, was that appropriate for the kiddies...?

Here is another Sesame Street short, which perhaps also helped inspire for some viewers a fascination with numbers. Or pinball. Or mind-altering chemicals....

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I played an exactly 100 hand session at 1/2 LHE a few days ago and finished 27 BB up. Outrageous. I don't keep stats or poker tracker or anything like that so would not know what to attribute that to, but who cares??!!

As a recent convert to limit it is going somewhat well...

2/26/2009 3:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I played an exactly 100 hand session at 1/2 LHE a few days ago and finished 27 BB up. Outrageous. I don't keep stats or poker tracker or anything like that so would not know what to attribute that to, but who cares??!!

As a recent convert to limit it is going somewhat well...

2/26/2009 3:25 AM  

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