The Biggest Loser

The Biggest Loser

Written by abarone

Topics: Life, Poker

The strike ended on the 4th and that meant it was time for me to get back to work.  I planned to break up the final 125,000 VPPs needed for Supernova Elite over a 25-day period.  The whole math thing tells us that to achieve SNE in that time, I’d need to average 5,000 VPPs each day, which is roughly 6-8 hours at the tables.

December started off well enough; I knew the games were tougher, but at first the regginess of the games didn’t have much of an effect on my winrate.  And then on the 8th, I began a 10-day stretch that’s now become the worst downswing of my career.

I’ve blogged a bit about downswings before and while it’s not the most fun topic to discuss, I do think it’s important to address them.  Poker can be an extremely cruel and unforgiving game where at times, making all the right decisions simply isn’t enough.  Downswings are part of the game and happen to even the best players, as card distribution is a factor beyond our own control.  Now was I making all the right decisions during this stretch?  Definitely not.  I’m human, I make mistakes, and I’m playing in games that have a very high concentration of theoretically sound, solid opponents.

Speaking of mistakes, my expected winrate during this stretch was terrible by my own standards.  I’m used to a winrate around 2-4% and the EV ROI had dropped to -1%.  To be fair, I was still beating the games in terms of ‘chips won’ but I wasn’t beating them enough to overcome the astronomically high rake.  I wasn’t alone though, most of my opponents were going through similar struggles to beat the Spin and Gos pre-rakeback because of the high variance and increased game difficulty.  But their struggles didn’t make me feel that much better.  I wasn’t enjoying the grind at all and knowing I had to keep going only made things worse.  Several days I would wake up and stay in bed a bit longer, using the covers to shield myself from possible negative variance and the emotions that accompanied it.  The only positive to come out of this downer was that I didn’t miss a day in the gym — I yearned for any opportunity to get away from the virtual felt, so I eagerly went to the gym and did my absolute best to sweat out all the frustration.  Being out of breath means I didn’t have enough energy to think about all of the questions swirling around in my head.

Was I doing something wrong?

How could I fix it?

Was I still profitable?

Would I have to find a new format?

And then, all of a sudden, I remembered something — I had basically the exact same thoughts eleven months ago during another brutal end-of-year downswing.  At the time I had serious concerns about my winrate and subsequent place in the poker world, but what happened in 2015?  I adapted, learned an entirely new format, and ended up posting my most profitable year-to-date, eclipsing my second most profitable year by a considerable margin.

So, how much did you lose?



In total I lost about $21,000 at the tables in that 10-day span.  It’s a staggering amount to most people but thankfully I remain overrolled and far from busto.  Here in Thailand players often use the local currency reference point, and as the downswing got worse and worse I had to look up and see how close I came to losing 1 million baht.


Not quite there, ‘only’ a 750,000 baht downswing.  Had a profitable day today and I’m hopeful that trend continues going forward.  Less than 50,000 VPPs left to earn and I should finish up by the 28th.

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