Friday, April 11, 2008


Harrington On Volatility

The Harrington cash books arrived this week and having skimmed through them they are a bit underwhelming TBH. Definitely worth buying, don't get me wrong, I've always said that a book with any useful information in it at all is going to be worthwhile providing you're good enough to sift what's useful from what's not and what's downright unhelpful. But a lot of the specific hand advice isn't really new to me because I've picked most of it up through watching training videos online.

My favourite parts of the books are the more general discussions. There's an excellent interview with Bobby Hoff, and some interesting thoughts on the loose-aggressive style. During that section, if I may take the liberty to quote directly, Dan says :

"Most people, in any endeavour that blends skill with some sort of randomizing agent .. that causes huge volatility, want to somehow extract the skill and its rewards, and leave the volatility behind"

and then "Courting volatility is inherently profitable. The more volatility you can endure, the higher your expected return in a skill/chance arena ... In poker, the volatility is extreme, and many, if not most, players are willing to pay a little bit to reduce it. At any table, the long-term collectors of this 'volatility tax' are the loose-aggressive players".

All spot on, but what I think is most interesting is that this advice would have been even better placed in the tournament books, which tend too much to the passive for my liking. The dichotomy (ooh) in tournaments is that it helps a lot to consider, and try to reduce, volatility when you choose which tournaments to play in, but, once you're in a tournament, you should be embracing a lot of high-volatility situations when you are liable to profit at the expense of opponents who are trying to avoid risk.

Anyway here's me courting volatility to good effect last Sunday :

Ship it for $64K. And a nice piece in the PartyPoker blog :

Spider's the $300K Man

I'm glad I made someone's job easier there :-). It would have been hard work thinking up that many puns for "eposss" or "salue1111".

So that sets me up nicely for the WSOP which I'm really looking forward to now. Before that I'll have this TV thing at the end of the month, which I've slightly cooled on, but what the hell, I'm in it now, it should be good experience if nothing else ; I'm just going to play my game and if Greekfish & co don't like it that's not going to lose me any sleep. "He's certainly courting volatility with that play Jesse". I don't think.

TV thing? Do tell
I see Dave Garbacz is one of the entrants. Is that the Dave Garbacz who was at Sporting Index in the 1990s? Another case of old names resurfacing in a different context. Occasionally I see names whom I recall as young Bridge players as long ago as the late 1970s at the Young Chelsea, now reappearing at the Old Vic. (Boom-boom).
Was talking to someone else about this and we came to the conclusion "How many D. Garbaczs can there be ?". Odds on it is the same guy.

I've picked most of it up through watching training videos online.

Mixed sites or is there one site in particular you recommend for MTT advice?
Hi Andy,
Fantastic tournament, I just watched it through
and I can see your point about
volatility, three major swings on the
way to the end including the one where
you would have blinded out without the win.
The most exciting hand for me though
was the AK AK split, I wonder if that
one got your heart beating a little
I have to say that the result
speaks for itself, I can't fault
the process because it worked, but
I think that I will speak on anyway.
The trend I see most clearly
in online poker is that people
either never bluff at all, or they
bluff far too often. There is a
proportion of bets where bluffing
gives a benefit, and if the proportion
is too low or too high, there is profit
being missed.
My best guess is that you don't
bluff enough. There are a few hands
out of the 760-odd that I can recall
thinking "that might be a bluff"
and some of them worked, but the
bluff-ish raises to real raises
ratio is maybe 1/10 or less.
This makes it pretty safe to fold
to your KK, AA, KK, AA etc that
never got off the starting block.
A few calls there might have made
up for some called bluffs, and
of course any time you don't get
caught, bluffs scoop the antes.
A countervaling trend I see is
that people call much to often.
This makes the "signal strength"
of bluffing go way up, since you
are more likely to get caught, but
if the ratio is right, it makes
them call your nuts hands more
often to make up for it.
As usual, this is worth what
it cost you, keep on ringing the
bell while I sit and think, and
best of luck in the WSOP!
-John Lupien
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