Poker Study shows More Hands won equals Less Profits

Posted on by RTR Rachel

Commonsense tells us that the more poker hands a person wins, the more profit they’re likely to pull in. However, a study by Cornell graduate student and long-time poker player Kyle Siler suggests the complete opposite in that more hands won means less overall profits. In addition to this, Siler’s online poker study also showed how small stakes players find just as much value in low pairs (2’s through 6’s) as they do with medium pairs (7’s through 10’s).

Siler’s study, which was called Social and Psychological Challenges of Poker, reviewed 27 million hands to come up with the shocking findings. He also used the poker software program known as PokerTracker to analyze high stakes, mid stakes and micro stakes players. In the end, Siler’s research discovered the aforementioned knowledge about how people lose more money by winning more hands, and low limit players over-value low pairs.

In regards to playing more hands, Siler summed up his findings by saying, “(the research) coincides with observations in behavioral economics that people overweigh their frequent small gains vis-à-vis occasional large losses, and vice versa.” In less scientific terms, the people who are willing to gamble in order to pick up frequent, small wins are also willing to accept losing bigger pots. This would explain the overly-aggressive internet poker players, who make lots of raises to win small pots, yet eventually get burned by players with better hands.

As far as the small pairs finding goes, Siler also explained this by mentioning, “This is because small pairs have a less ambiguous value, and medium pairs are better hands, but have more ambiguous values that small-stakes players apparently have trouble understanding.” This being said, it’s apparent that low stakes players over-value small pairs, and are willing to risk more money with these hands than they should
In any case, Siler’s research could have a positive effect on inexperienced players who either overplay small pairs, or think winning lots of small hands will make them profitable players.

Tip of the Day: While overvaluing small pairs can be a sign of inexperienced low limit players, these hands can actually be valuable when set mining. Just make sure your implied odds are good by choosing the right opponent to set mine against since the pot odds are terrible in these situations.

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