Fantasy Premier League and the game of Texas Hold’ Em Poker have a lot of similarities.
You’re playing a game of cards throughout the night and there sometimes comes a hand where you have played everything correctly and, statistically, the odds are in your favour.
But then the least probable outcome happens. Your Sadio Mané (£12.5m) Triple Captain goes off injured early. That’s just how the dice rolls sometimes.
In Poker, we call it a ‘bad beat’. Over the course of the night, you have about 150-200 hands to play and there will be times when you do face a bad beat; a statistically unfavourable outcome (more than once in a lot of cases).
What separates the skilled players from the normal players in Poker though are the ones that temperamentally do not get affected by the statistically improbable ‘bad beat’ and continue hammering on with their strategy and trust. Despite a few setbacks along the way, they should end the night with a positive outcome with or without minor adjustments.
Keeping your temperament in control is incredibly important. It’s very easy to go ‘on tilt’ and make a series of low probability, irrational decisions after facing a bad beat.
I was talking to Trigg from the FFS boards while writing this in the morning and he had an important point to make here. As humans, we have a tendency to want instant gratification. We want our money (FPL points) back right away and that sometimes leads to poor decision making.
Clear your head and think again.
My good friend from the FFS boards, Prophet was telling me about a Serbian saying that when roughly translated in English goes like this – “Mom didn’t blame you for gambling but for trying to dig yourself out of the hole”.
The digging yourself out here means first putting in 100 Euros, then 500 and eventually your house. Tilts are dangerous and we should avoid them. The good Poker players are always looking to hunt and find which of their competitors are going ‘on tilt’ so that they can exploit them for some serious money.
Sometimes, you’re not really lucky throughout the night (or your FPL season) and other nights (seasons) you will be more fortunate than normal. Don’t pay attention to the improbable outcomes. We might not even know about it but we’ve probably made a few ‘statistically stupid’ decisions ourselves that have worked out for the best but it is human tendency to remember only the ones that don’t land on your side of the court.
FPL in some ways is similar. You’re making a skilled decision for an unknown outcome. Arguably, you have more control in Poker but there are similarities. There are factors you control and others you don’t. I wrote an article earlier this season that we are making about 140-150 FPL decisions a season:
- Initial Team + 2 Wildcards + 1 Free Hit = 4 x 15 = 60
- 38 Captains = 38
- 3 Chips = 3
- 35-55 Transfers throughout the season
Naturally, the FPL chips and your captaincies are your relatively high impact decisions. There is more at stake than normal. But they are still not going to decide your ‘entire’ season. All that has happened with some of the high impact decisions not coming your way is that you have received a ‘bad beat’ in a pot in which you have invested a lot of money. It happens. We’ve seen it over the years and if you want to develop as an FPL/ Poker player, don’t let this affect you, laugh it off, clear your head and continue doing what you are doing.
I’ve faced both sides of the coin very recently. The Jamie Vardy (£9.9m) to Sergio Aguero (£12.0m) captain move which worked out spectacularly (I’ve since sold the Manchester City forward and I’m plotting to get him back). But then, of course, I Triple Captained Mané and that turned out to be quite spectacular in its own right. Just goes to see that no one can really see the future and we’re all playing a game where we’re trying to put ourselves in an advantageous position week on week is all.
You have to think of your current position as the starting line. AK, another good friend of mine from the FFS boards says that in Poker, whatever be the case, you have to focus on salvaging your ‘current position’. There is a lot of the game left to be played. Most of us still have about 50 to 60 decisions remaining in the season. That is about 40% of your decision-making pool. There is a lot you can do to affect that.
- If you’re ranked at around the 1 million mark right now, 500k is just 37 points ahead. That’s one good differential captaincy in my eyes.
- If you’re ranked at around 500k right now, 100k is just 59 points ahead right now.
- If you’re ranked at 100k right now, 10k is only 55 points ahead.
If you look at the game this way, you realize that you can still have the rub of the green, have some decisions working in your way and who knows where you will land at the end of the season.
I’d recommend not looking back at what has already happened; instead, plot further ahead (or just take a break and enjoy the FA Cup football over the weekend) and salvage your current position.
The game is more fun that way. Make yourselves immune to the ‘bad beats’. If you’re far away from your actual goal, experiment with some new strategies for the next season. Re-condition your mind to the changing nature of FPL, or check if your current strategy will take you through this night (season) of FPL Poker and go past the bad beats.
Don’t forget it’s a game that we’re playing for fun based around a sport we watch for enjoyment (supposedly!). Don’t make it anything else. I’m currently sitting at an overall rank of 528 and I definitely intend on having fun with the privileged position I am in. Let’s see where it takes me.
Here’s to no more bad beats.