I have been in a slump recently in my cash and tourney play at the felt. It was time to go back and look at what I was doing in order to turn things around. As I mentioned in my last post, I am reading the “Poker Essays” of Mason Malmuth: Poker Essays, Poker Essays, Volume II, and Poker Essays, Volume III.
One of the ideas that Mr. Malmuth mentions as a possible weakness is playing too many hands. Most of the online sites that I play on record the number of hands that I play, the number of flops that I see, as well as the number of turns and the number of rivers.
While your mileage may vary, in general it is suggested that a good player will only play 17% of the hands that are dealt. One of the reasons that the percentages might go higher is that you will be in the big and the small blind about twice every nine or ten hands. It is very easy to be in at least 25 to 40% of the hands when you get cards that you think you can win with, along with defending your blinds.
During one session last night I actually played in almost 45% of all the hands dealt to me. Of the 122 hands dealt, I played 54 hands and won with 22 of them. The bottom line after two hours of play was that I was .50 cents ahead. Had I been more selective, my earnings would probably have been higher. The 32 hands that I lost in were part of the problem. Some of the hands did not have a high expectation of winning. Although a few of these hands were good, the opponent’s hand was better. For sure I could have played in 16 less hands and had a larger profit at the end of the session.
Do you play too many hands? Do you have a high win rate? Are you selective about entering a pot? Does position matter?