There is no such thing as a downswing in poker

Yesterday I came to a boiling point for about the 879th time along this bad run of cards that I have been having for the past month or two. The difference this time was that I got so mad at my perceived bad luck that I felt unable to continue playing for the day and just quit. I reviewed the session and its not even like things went that bad. I lost 3 big pots to a gutshot, a flip and a cooler, ran KK into AA again (which I won), and lost a bunch of annoying little pots to silly suckouts and such. This all occurred in the 1700 hands that I played, pretty standard stuff.

The problem is that every single time I lose a pot these days I take it personally. I have no fuse. Truthfully I haven't had one for weeks now as I have never endured anything close to this before. Notice the language that I use "endured" as if I have been personally attacked but more on this later. I play really low stakes and am still able to win. Stressing out over this seems really stupid in the grand scheme of things.

Drawing from my article "On Tilt" and using a little bit of logic I have come to some conclusions and will now try and put them down here. In the article I essentially made the rather obvious case that online poker is not rigged. I used Stars as a specific example as 100% of my play is there. Stars has now dealt 48 billion hands, all of which are publicly available for audit at any time. I have personally been playing there for 5 years and it was around for several more before that.

There are a lot of smart people in this industry, a lot of really nerdy math types, with access to sophisticated compiling programs such as HEM and PT3 along with incredibly fast computers. There has not been a single credible argument that I am aware of in all these years that anything is amiss with Stars RNG. By credible I mean, a) written by an intelligent person and more importantly b) is based upon a solid set of data.

Poker is a game where there will always be much ranting and even more raving, usually made by poor players, who do not even have the slightest bit of perspective. I am talking about the masses of recreational players ,who if you give them your ear for a second, will tell you all about how their aces got cracked 3 times in a row! And therefore (insert online poker site or casino name here) is rigged.

The facts are simple. There is simply no compelling or even slightly believable reason to believe that anything is wrong with basically any of the big online sites. In fact, the only credible evidence is to the contrary (each of the big sites have been independently audited). And in any case, accepting the complete randomness of these sites is necessary for our continued play there. If in some bizarro world this is all wrong and Stars really is rigged, then there will be some huge fucking lawsuits down the line. So its a win win either way.

Stars random number generator or "RNG" is really just a computerized replication of a random deal of cards hosted on servers located in the Isle of Man. Like randomness in the universe (will it rain or be sunny tomorrow etc), there is no conscious direction in the decisions that these computers make. That is to say, there is no will, volition or stake that these computers have in the outcome of any hand of poker. They are inanimate objects performing a pre-programmed task. They are in no way aware of their decisions. They are random.

What is a downswing then? What is an upswing or a heater for that matter? Clearly both of these are patterns that we have found within this random sequence of events. The problem though is that there are no patterns within a random sequence of events. Because patterns are intelligent designs that require planning. And for planning to happen, consciousness and volition is required.

Since these computers have none of that, there is no other conclusion to be drawn besides that downswings and upswings are imaginary. We may have a good or bad run of cards over a specific time period but it is a purely coincidental phenomenon and holds no explanation in reality.

That is because they are a pattern that we have concocted in our minds and nothing else. There is nothing personal about a bad run of cards. It is perhaps easier to see this point if you think about live poker. Do you go and blame all the dealers for your downswing? Do you think they all got together behind the scenes and conspired to stick it to you? Of course not.

We are essentially getting upset about something that doesn't even exist. There are no patterns in random events and therefore there are no downswings or heaters.

So the next time you receive a "bad beat" or a "cooler" you should remind yourself that what you really just received was a random event. Do you want to be like the madman standing in the rain shaking his fist at the sky because he planned to go to the beach that day?


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