We're updating the site for a better experience. Thanks for your patience! ♥️

Short Run vs. Long Run

Whenever someone draws me out with very poor odds, I'm tempted to bang my head against the table. However, I try to console myself by reminding myself of all the drawouts I've performed on people and more importantly, it's the fact that my opponent is drawing to poor odds that allows me to win in the Long Run. But of course, this brings up the question that many people ask: What exactly is the Long Run?

There is no precise definition for the Long Run and it varies depending on the game. limit poker has a fairly short Long Run. I'd wager that almost all winning players will show a profit after 250 hours of play and most losing players will show a loss after that amount of time. However, any given hour can be totally different. In fact, the Short Run of limit poker is very brutal because of the vast potential for cheap drawouts.

However, the length of the Long Run depends on the skill advantage one has. If one has a very large advantage, the Long Run will kick in quite soon. In contrast, a very small skill advantage will seemingly take forever to be meaningful.

Of course, any 100 hands can bring just about anything in limit poker. There is only so much skill involved, so luck will be a very dominating factor in a small group of hands. Yet, a very important thing about limit poker is that there are few 'huge' hands. While the pots can be very big on some hands, you cannot lose your whole stack on any given hand (unless you are shortstacked). When, in fact, the pot is very big, it is generally a multi-way pot so you only invested a fraction of what's at stake. Because of the inability to lose a lot in one hand, short-run fluctuations do not make a very huge dent in the Long Run of limit poker.

Because any one hand involves a lot of luck but a thousand hands are not swayed too terribly by luck, I suggest sticking to a comfortable limit when playing fixed-limit games. 'Making a run for it' is a very bad idea at limit poker because there is an awfully large amount of luck in the Short Run, and there really is no need to gamble because the Long Run happens quite quickly.

In contrast, no-limit poker has a fairly short Short Run but a longer Long Run. How does this make sense? Well, it's the concept of big hands. At limit poker with a decent sized buy-in, it's almost impossible to double up or lose your stack on one hand. However, this is common in no-limit poker. However, when these big hands occur, generally the better player has a sizeable advantage at no-limit. Since the results of the no-limit session will be highly dependent on a few of these hands, generally a strong no-limit player will win simply because he will win a couple of these big hands. He may lose a bunch of small hands but will show a profit at the end of the day because of at least one or two big ones.

However, because one's outcome is so dependent on a few hands, the Long Run takes longer to kick in. Let's say you have some bad luck at no-limit. On three occasions, you go all-in on the flop with a 70% chance to win and lose all three times. These three huge hits will take awhile to win back. A very bad run at no-limit can take weeks to heal.

Because there is more skill in the Short Run, people are more willing to 'make a run for it' at no-limit. Nevertheless, this is still a bad idea because if you play a game whose stakes you are not comfortable with and your game will suffer. You cannot play scared at no-limit, so you should always play in a game whose stakes are not significant to you.

Skill is a relative concept. The greater your skill differential over your opponents, the quicker you can expect to reach the Long Run. Always be aware that any win or loss one day does not say that much about your skill, and if you have shown a loss over several months, perhaps you should wake up and smell the coffee about your poker skill.

Next Article: Common Intermediate Mistakes

Poker Games

Special Offers

See the Special Offers

Live Poker

Find out about Live Events