If you could only play with opponents better than you

If you could ONLY play in a game where every opponent was a better poker player than you are, why would you want to stay in that game?

This actually does happen regularly in social games. I knew a player who stayed in the game solely for the political advantages it gave him at work, and he ended up running that company (it took him a few years). I’ve always figured that if it was more fun than it cost me, I was ahead, even if I lost some chips. What makes your game “fun?”

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Great topic @Alan25main - people play this game for very different reasons. On a site where there is no money to be won, the reasons should skew far more towards recreation than anything else. There is a maxim that I think fits very well here:

The professional player trades his time for money
The recreational player trades his money for time

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For me, one of the biggest things is that better players have a better understanding of fold equity. This especially applies to me because I play far more tournaments than cash games. I’ll notice players’ bets getting me to fold in spots that initially seem unusual to me. They’re getting me to over fold because they have a better understanding of the game. Their play convinces me to fold in spots where I likely shouldn’t; sometimes in spots where I don’t anticipate folding before they take action and change my mind. I save the hand and replay it, concentrating not so much on whether it was a good or bad fold, but trying to figure out how my opponent figured I would fold. This is one element I particularly enjoy while playing better players. I usually learn far more by losing to a relatively difficult opponent than by winning against an easy one.

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That’s a really good point, C6. I suspect we’ll always learn more from losses than from wins. A lot of times, we don’t get to see the losing hand, so if we win, our “information gain” is small or non-existent. And, because it hurts more, the lesson is reinforced by our pain of lost chips.

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I guess if I could only play with better players, I would be playing for one of several reasons.
A - They are my friends and I want to visit
B - I want to see how I do against better players and identify holes in my game
C - I want to learn from observing their game, so that I can better my game and/or beat them later

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I agree with everything @bahia7 said.

There have been a few times when I had the opportunity to play against people I consider significantly more skilled than me. I learned a huge amount from those sessions, and will regularly replay individual hands from them, as well as analyze those sessions’ statistics. Was I overfolding preflop? Defending too frequently against c-bets? Mindful of protecting my full checking ranges? Overly aggressive in certain spots?

However, if I ONLY could play against better players, I’d probably stop playing. Knowing that I was far more likely to lose than win any time I sat at a table, and that my few wins were driven far more by luck than skill, would be disheartening. There have been a number of times when I’ve been on a downswing, and being able to drop down in stakes to book a fee wins and rebuild my confidence has been necessary to maintain my interest in the game.

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I play to win money so I almost always want to be one of the 2-3 best players at the table when full ring and I table select to make sure that happens. This is not a problem in my regular/home casino. When I travel to play I am rolled to play bigger than I typically do(main games at my casino are 1/3 300, 2/3 600, and occasionally 2/5 1K) and will take shots at better 2/5’s and sometimes 5/T mainly for the reasons @bahia7 gives in his B and C bullets. If you don’t test yourself against better players the bar for improving will sit much higher than if you do. Still I stick mostly to the stakes/skill levels that I can beat for $. Don’t play higher just because I can afford to.

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When I first started playing poker, guaranteed–everyone was better than I was, but I enjoyed the thrill of the game, enjoyed learning to play better, and really liked the caliber of minds I encountered at the tables. Nothing has changed: I may be playing better now, but I still often seek out tables where I know I’ll encounter players better than myself. I learn best from watching them, and they keep me entertained with their witty repartee.

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I do everyday!

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Better cards ALWAYS beat better players!

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Unless Doyle Brunson is there then fold… Reason He Wins the WSOP with 10-2 in successive years.

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As a middle “teenager”, a few of us long time friends would get together to play some “house poker”. We were terrible, and had little understanding of how to really play the game. Occasionally, one of the parents would sit in. I used to think they weren’t very good poker players, but have changed my thoughts on that over the years. Rather than “take the money” (it was small ante) from “the kids”, I believe they “dumped” just to sit in and enjoy some time with their kid and his friends. Looking back, it was cheaper entertainment than going to a movie and probably more memorable.
I didn’t quite answer the question, but I give a suggestion on why someone might sit in a poker game and lose.

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DancingHomer, you answered it beautifully. I suspect there are a lot of others–like me–with those same memories. Playing cards and other games contributed to the people we have become. I’d like to think it made us better people, but my cynical nature says that won’t always be the case. Quoting Bob Hope: thanks for the memories.

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always a super thing to play with players who are far better on a table…But you cant consider this possiblilty on a play site…the main issue is not factored in-money…
I never for one second think that a one off game can actually tell you where you stand with better players…too many variables come into play…hole cards,luck and size of betbet…too many parameters come into play…on a given day it could be anybody but over many games you can actually tell the good players…a play site cannot give you these parameters and when the money is on the table its a whole new ball game…

Because if I only played with people who were not better than me – I would be alone :upside_down_face:

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Definitely wrong there. You are better than you think you are :slight_smile:

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Everyone is missing the most prevalent reason people play in a game where everyone else at the table is better… They don’t realize they are worse than everyone else!

How does the saying go. ." 75 percent of poker players think they are better than the other 75% of poker players"

The variance because of randomness in the cards, combined with the imperfect information in most hands allows us to convince ourselves that we are just victims of bad luck when we lose, but that we are good players when we get a lucky break.

Meanwhile, at EVERY table, someone is the worst player

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Well said, Jan! I agree!

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Blockquote They don’t realize they are worse than everyone else!

Yes I do!
Truth be told, I am not very good. Trying my best to improve, but I lack the time to get serious about it. My only option is to be the fish at countless tables where I know most players are superior, and make a fool of myself while I catch a few tricks.
It actually works. Some. I am still the worst player at my usual table. But the other guys don’t mind so much anymore.
In my book, that’s improvement. :slight_smile:

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Hi Sam.

One of our Player Reps put together a series of posts as reference material for those learning the game. A one-stop shop should be helpful for your situation.

Even if you only have an hour or two a couple times a week, you can read a bit and practice. The quickest improvement will probably come in the form of learning table position and deciding on a range of hands you want to play at each position. Also, keep in mind that a bet or raise is typically a stronger move than simply calling.

If you can put a few hours of dedication per week to practice the above, you will be shocked at how much better you play.

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