Am I Playing Too Many Hands?

by Lou on July 28, 2005

About two weeks ago, I played too many limit hold’em hands online and I made a conscious effort to tighten up, which seems to have worked quite well. When I seem to play at my best, I play about twelve percent of my hands in positions outside the blinds. Sometimes it’s a bit more than that, and occasionally it’s a little less, but usually this where my play clusters when I’m doing everything correctly.

The total percentage of hands played, including those in the blinds, is not really a meaningful figure, because it is often more dependent upon my opponents than upon me. I’ll obviously see the flop anytime I get a free play in the big blind. I’ll see a lot of flops from the small blind with decent hands for one small bet, and if I’m playing $15-$30 — where the small blind is two-thirds of the big blind — I’ll see the flop most of the time the cost is only an additional five dollars.

In passive games, with not much raising before the flop, I’ll see more flops than I will when the cost of playing has been elevated by aggressive raises. The number of players in a game also affects the number of hands I play. Blinds come around a lot more frequently in six-handed games than they do when it’s nine- or ten-handed, and I see a much higher percentage of hands in short handed games.

When I’m playing well, and I add the pots I’ve won at the showdown to those I’ve won without showing down the winning hand, the sum always exceeds the total number of hands shown down. My wins from showdowns added to those pots I won because I bet everyone folded is often two or three times greater than the total number of hands shown down.

If I’m showing down too many losing hands, it’s a sure sign that I’m taking hands to the river that I should have folded. It’s also a sign that I’m taking hands to from the flop to the turn that I shouldn’t have, and that I’m probably seeing more flops with hands that I shouldn’t have played in the first place. It’s a daisy chain of unplayable hands and bad decisions that culminates in losing too many hands at the showdown, and shows up in that metric as well as in the percentage of hands played outside of the blind.

If you’ve had a similar experience, let me know. I’m interested in other players’ opinions on this subject.

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