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Poker News | World Poker News

Poker Study Shows Importance of Bankroll Management and Sensibility

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The more that poker becomes an integral part of so many Americans’ lives, more studies will be commissioned and research done on the topic. Since poker is a subject that can be analyzed due to its heavy reliance on statistics and odds, it is an easy target for researchers. What is not considered in these studies, however, is the numerous other factors that go into successful poker, not the least of which are skills, money management, and luck.

A new study about online poker has been authored by Cornell University sociology doctoral student Kyle Siler, who sought to analyze the correlation between a number of hands played at various stakes to the payoffs achieved.  “Social and Psychological Challenges of Poker” is a part of the Journal of Gambling Studies, but the contents of Siler’s research is available only to members. Without seeing the actual study, it is difficult for this writer to properly scrutinize the exact findings, but the words written by media outlets like USA Today offer some insight, especially when compared to those of a widely-respected poker blogger.

What is known about the study to all interested parties is the introduction, which notes that online poker “provides the unprecedented opportunity to quantitatively analyze extremely large numbers of hands and players.” Siler did just that, as he input approximately 27 million hands into the PokerTracker software program to analyze the types of strategies used at each level (low, medium, and high stakes) and the payoffs associated with each. The results, in a nutshell, note that when players move up in levels using tight-aggressive strategies, they lose their competitive edge. Small stakes players don’t seem to appropriately balance frequent small gains with occasional large losses, which is where the problems arise when players move up in stakes too quickly as a result of small wins that don’t translate to bigger wins.

In sum, Siler wrote, “Adopting risk-neutrality to maximize expected value, aggression and appropriate mental accounting, are cognitive burdens on players, and underpin the rationality work - reconfiguring of personal preferences and goals - players engage into be competitive, and maximize their winning and profit chances.”

USA Today’s report on the study took the core data and findings to come to the conclusion that players should fold more often, as winning small stakes only added up to bigger losses at higher stakes. Quotes from Siler, a self-ascribed amateur poker player, to correspond with this point were included in the article. “This phenomenon can be explained by the fact that players who win large proportions of hands lose money, because they lose a few hands of great value,” said Siler, who went on to say that “the biggest opponent for many players is themselves.”

Poker blogger Short-Stacked Shamus had the chance to read the study in its entirety and wrote of the study’s results on a broader spectrum. First, he noted that Siler seemed to have a firm grasp of poker, specifically online poker, and the theories applied within. Second, he broke down Siler’s conclusions that higher stakes usually translates in a higher proportion of aggressive versus passive players, those aggressive players tend to be the biggest winners and the biggest losers no matter what stakes are involved, players that had the biggest occasional payoff did not have the best win rates overall, and the tight-aggressive strategy seemed to have the best return for players at all levels.

In essence, the compiled results of Siler’s study seem to indicate what most poker players with long-term success already know: moving up in stakes should be done with care and consideration of solid results and bankroll management.

One of the most common mistakes in the world of poker is moving up too quickly. A player will commonly find him or herself in the midst of a winning streak and move up in limits, suddenly playing poker at a level that does not correspond with the player’s history or bankroll. But an upswing often gives players a confidence boost, and they take it to the next level and continue playing aggressively, which frequently results in a big loss. Tournament players also find themselves in similar positions after having won a large sum of money in one tournament and moving on to play high-stakes buy-in tournaments until the bankroll is suddenly depleted.

Every seasoned poker player in the industry, whether from personal experience or that of a peer, will impart that one piece of advice to beginning players. Always play commensurate with experience and bankroll. It seems so simple, yet it’s hard to abide by such a suggestion when a pocketful of money and some run-good luck tugs a player in another direction.

Siler’s study confirms the bankroll management advice. Moving up in stakes is appealing, exciting, and feeds the need for action, but it can soon result in bankruptcy in a very short period of time. But adhering to a solid and steady plan of climbing the ladder of poker success is imperative for ensuring that said success endures.

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