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When I Was A Poker Donk -- Eric Froehlich

Top Pros Share Their Early Mistakes

by Brian Pempus |  Published: Sep 21, 2011


Eric FroehlichIn this series, Card Player asks top pros to rewind back to their humble beginnings and provide insights regarding the mistakes, leaks, and deficiencies that they had to overcome in order to improve their games.

Eric Froehlich is one the best young players in the game of poker, and he has backed up the skills with more than $2.4 million in career tournament winnings.

Born in 1984, he competed in the first World Series of Poker event for which he was eligible. The 2005 Series was his debut, and he put a dent in WSOP history when he won a $1,500 limit hold’em event for almost $304,000, making him the youngest ever bracelet winner at that time. The next year, he won a second bracelet in a $1,500 pot-limit Omaha rebuy event. He took home nearly $300,000 and permanently cemented himself as one of the best multi-table tournament regulars around. At this summer’s WSOP, the poker pro had two chances at a third bracelet, finishing in third and fourth, while bringing home more than $500,000 in cashes.

Card Player caught up with Froehlich to talk about a topic that concerns players who are new to poker: dealing with downswings and the perpetual variance in the game.

“I think the biggest problem players run across when getting into poker involves not being able to handle the downswings appropriately. The objective of each player as they start out is to maximize profits while staying within their bankroll. This means slowly moving up in limits by waiting until you can beat whatever game you are playing before advancing further up.

“However, what most players don’t recognize is that downswings are a part of the game. As a player moves up in limits, the long, lengthy downswings will sting more and more as a larger amount of money is lost. However, assuming a player is playing within their means, these downswings are sustainable without a large risk of ruin, and the possibility always remains to move back down in limits at any time.

“This rarely happens, however, even with seasoned professionals. These big downswings at the higher limits are what usually cause players to lose their entire bankroll and go bust when that’s something that should simply never happen. The tilt associated with the desire to ‘get even’ is something that most players are not comfortable with, and so they do not adjust appropriately to the downswings. If a player is playing within their means, even a month-long downswing is something that their bankroll should be able to handle. Poker is a game with a lot of variance and fluctuation, and players need to be prepared for that aspect of the game.

“Most players getting started in the game are able to win steadily, slowly move up in limits, and then quickly find themselves going broke. Oftentimes this process is repeated. It can take several different attempts by any individual player to move up the ranks before they are successful. Of course, for some it may never happen, as their emotions just cannot be controlled, or perhaps the games are not something they can beat. It is not, however, necessary to tilt off your entire roll when you experience an extended streak of negative variance. All it takes is a little patience.”