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Attaining wealth as a CLP subscriber? Yes, play tournaments

justfourfun Posts: 70Subscriber
edited September 6 in Tournament Discussion
I posted this comment to a thread about cash games versus tournaments. Then I decided to make it its own post. If you are looking to become wealthy playing hold em then play tournaments and give those brutal, tough cash games a rest:

Here is my comment:

The last few years I was a 200/hr per year rec 2/5 player at the horseshoe in Hammond IN with a average hourly win rate of $15-$20. A lot of pro grinders in that game so it's tough to beat. I would also play about 10 tournaments a year in the $100-$2,500 buy in range with about the same hourly win rate. Beginning about 18 months ago - and soon after I joined CLP - something just clicked. I chopped the $125 daily at the Aria something like 7 out of 10 times with me getting a first place amount each time for about $3k each. Then a real heater: The results from my last four tournaments played are as follows: 1) a $282,000 2nd place finish at the WSOP $2,500 buy in event 29 June; 2) a great WSOP main event run where I was a 82% favorite pre-flop to have a top ten stack out of over 7,000 entries during level 11 day 3 (my aces cracked by JJ - all in pre-flop 550,000 pot); 3) 61st out of 1,180 in $350 buyin at HPT for $1,125 cash (knocked out after losing as 82% favorite .... AGAIN!); 4) 3rd/550 $1,650 buy-in yesterday for another $69,000 plus cash. I agree with you Jack about cash game players being better than tournament players. The pro 2/5 cash game players at the Shoe are much better players than a typical tournament player. I appreciate those sharks for helping me learn how to play. Knowing now how much can be made in a tournament with so little to risk - my $1,650 buy in yesterday is just over the $1,500 I need to sit down at a 2/5 game. I can win nearly a half a mil in a tourney and my upside in a 2/5 is about $4k. I am done done done playing cash seriously. I may play a little 5/10 (so happy to have moved from 2/5 to 5/10) to pass the time but tournaments are where I will get serious. About playing 200 plus tourneys a year.... forget that it's a bad idea. Try what I do instead. First, I pick out a decent sized tourney to play in about 14-21 days out. Then I train for the tourney, no alcohol, eat right, exercise every day, lose 10-15 pounds, no hold 'em. Instead rest relax focus Bikram Yoga five times a week. Arrive a day early for the tourney and get acclimated and relax. Once the cards are in the air you are ready and focused. Make consistently good decisions and the money just comes to you
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Comments

  • Jesse_The_Suit Posts: 274Subscriber
    Yeah, the potential upside from tournaments is higher. But so is the potential upside from buying a lottery ticket. The variance in tournaments is just so crazily high that it's hard to a) know of your a winner and what your rate is and b) earn at any sort of predictable rate. If you just want to play for fun/extra money you have no particular need for, it's fine to play tournaments. But is probably not the best way to make consistent money. Congrats on your successes though.
  • AJoff Posts: 531Subscriber
    Google survivor bias. Every tournament has a small group of winners who think they made a great decision and a much larger group of losers who are "just running bad". Every longtime cash player can tell multiple stories about guys that "turned pro" after binking a tournament and then subsequently went broke because they were never actually winning players.

    If that $350 tournament is $300 to the prize pool, $50 to the casino and dealers, it's not beatable. If you have a 25% edge you are annihilating the game. That's $80 in expected ev for what 10 hours of work?
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,026SubscriberProfessional
    This is a little narrow but in reality its why all poker players play tournaments. For that big score.. I of course want to win a bracelet too but top three spots are always where the big bucks are.. This is not new information.

    The issue with this is variance is so high in tournaments that in the long run they are not as plus EV as being good in deep stack cash games.. So yeah in any tournament you can score huge but then you might have a drought of those scores for years. In the mean time your cash game win rate just plugs along.. add up both over say 2 or 3 years and I bet if you are a 5-10bb cash game winner you will most likely be ahead in cash especially if you play a $5 blind game and above. If you play a $3 blind game and below then you are probably not as developed a cash game player and that would warp your opinion on cash vs tournaments..

    But I will also add that getting good at BOTH cash and tournaments is helpful to BOTH types of poker. This year I did my best at WSOP.. In part because I am much better at hand reading and because I am willing to accept busting more to accumulate chips. this in turn has given me alot more confidence in my cash game to call in lighter spots (ie station more in proper spots) and make plays that I didnt consider before..

  • Jack7777 Posts: 594Subscriber
    I think it's a personal preference for most. It seems most everybody plays some of both. I play them online and I am well in the black. The thing about tournaments I think is selection. If you can cash, then you can make money. It's just the grind and playing long periods with out cashing.
  • justfourfun Posts: 70Subscriber
    Variance seems an unlikely explaination. My main point is that the skill level in tournaments, for instance a $2,500 WSOP event, is about a 4 on a scale of one to ten. The skill level at a 2/5 is about a 9. The fours that sit down at a 2/5 don't last long and the nines bring their backpacks. Why not choose to play in the weaker field? I haven' t done the math on the relative rakes but it doesn't seem significant to me. And whatever the rake comparison, the player pool? That I know; Tournaments = 4; 2/5 = 9.
  • Jesse_The_Suit Posts: 274Subscriber
    The point about variance is that even if it's true, which it almost certainly is, that tournament fields are very soft the amount of randomness involved in tournaments is so huge as to make it a pretty speculative way to make money.
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,026SubscriberProfessional
    Jesse_The_Suit said:
    The point about variance is that even if it's true, which it almost certainly is, that tournament fields are very soft the amount of randomness involved in tournaments is so huge as to make it a pretty speculative way to make money.
    This is the exact point. Even if you had a significant skill edge its still harder to have positive and as high EV in tournaments because of the variance. If not then you would find many many more tourney "pros"

    You will find some pros that have done well over the years Phil Helmuth, Fedor Holz, etc.. but they play 100s of tournies a year and even then many go long stretches without a significant score.

    Are you going to substitute playing a tourney for every session of poker you play in a year? That would be a very interesting experiment! Tally your NET profits then divide by the number of hours you played.. I would bet that in almost every person who did this that my hourly in cash is higher..

    In fact I would bet that almost every person who tried this would actually end up losing!



  • justfourfun Posts: 70Subscriber
    I realize that I am bucking conventional wisdom with my theory that the best way to make money playing hold em is in tournaments. But... many fortunes have been made bucking conventional wisdom. Variance will unfortunately prohibit any proof of concept analyzing actual results. Any actual results will be suspect due to Variance. But, logic can still effectively be applied to the problem. When solving the problem Hammah the problem is not your hourly rate in cash versus my hourly rate in tourneys. Instead the problem we are attempting to solve is Hammah's hourly rate in cash versus Hammahs hourly rate in tourneys. Let's assume that your skill level in both venues is equal. Let's also assume that you are willing to accept a higher variance in order to obtain the highest expected value (we all agree tourney results will have a higher variance). In which venue, cash versus tourneys, can you Hammah expect the highest return? If your skill level as a poker player is a 9, and the average skill level in a cash game is an 8 and the average skill level in a tournament is a 4 then I am certain that your highest expected return will be in tournament play. How could anyone attack this logic? Now, if a player needs money in the short term then they might say they cannot tolerate a high variance factor. But, if our focus is the long term which it should be then F- those cash games.
  • justfourfun Posts: 70Subscriber
    I really enjoyed your post Hammah and I loved the challenging tone. I am just a recreational player and have significant business interests outside of poker so I only play hold em when it suits me. But to answer your question "Are you going to substitute playing a tourney for every session of poker you play in a year?" The answer is an emphatic "yes". Wouldn't you if you were me considering my last two years results which are detailed in the two attached spreadsheets. No matter how my results trend in the future I am certain my highest EV is tournament play versus cash. No proof will be offered since I am done done done playing cash games against sharks like you.
    2048 x 1536 - 314K
    2048 x 1536 - 292K
  • justfourfun Posts: 70Subscriber
    edited September 7
    Problem solving on clp
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,026SubscriberProfessional
    edited September 7
    First off Congrats on the big scores!!..


    What I am trying to say is that even keeping track of every hour you have played in the last two years in tournaments it totals a tiny number. 178 hours so far in 2017 and 125 ish in 2016. In this small a sample I think it would be very difficult to not say that you could very well be in a plus EV situation. in fact you could be running super hot given the number of hours.

    I dont keep records on hours in tourneys mainly because the wsop ones I have made deep runs are multi-day and my poker tracking app doesnt make it easy for me to put in start and stop times for multi-day tournies.

    In contrast for the past 4 years I have recorded in excess of 1000 hrs in cash each year and I can say with a very high reliability that i know what can expect to make hourly. With only 200 hrs that is simply not a big enough sample.


    Ok so besides bickering on win rate, if you are a rec player study the game and you ENJOY tournaments more than cash then good for you! Keep playing them.. have fun that's what poker is supposed to be FUN..

    But for most folks the money will be in cash and in the long run cash will also be more predictable. A perfect example of this is Bart.. Bart is an exceptional player.. certainly not as good in tournaments but no one can argue his overall skill at NL. So far this year he has made it super deep in the LAPC on to get super unlucky with I think what 12 players left with AA vs AK.. that hand alone was probably worth $100k in real money.. Bart played many many tournies this year at WSOP and really didn't do as well as he would like.. is he a worse player than last year? No he is better.. variance again..

    I made it very deep and ended up winning the california plo8 championship because in a great spot I shipped a pretty crappy hand and got lucky to double up.. In the WSOP Plo8 event I lost ONLY 2 all ins.. this is all variance randomness that we as players have no control over..

    have fun play tournies keep your records and I would really like your opinion after you have over say 500 or 1000 hours of play.
  • AJoff Posts: 531Subscriber
    edited September 7
    The game structures aren't the same. If you took an entire 2/5 or 5/T player pool and forced them into $350 daily tournaments the losing players would lose far less.

    Even if you are right US tax policy makes being a live tourney pro impossible. You can't carry forward losses and your tax bracket is determined solely by what you earn in each individual calendar year. If you play < 30 tournaments a year the IRS is basically free rolling you.

    Your results are massively skewed by two big scores. Congrats, but you're the lottery winner laughing at everyone 'too stupid' to buy tickets. If you can't beat cash games then tournaments might be your only +EV option, but that doesn't make it the best option for someone trying to earn a living. Your post isn't just benign bad advice. Every year I see kids ruin their lives becoming a tourney pro after their first big score.
  • Jack7777 Posts: 594Subscriber
    I have always heard the best players in the world play cash games. I think it's true. If you like to play tournaments, play them. They might be the best way to win money for you. If you take 200 tournament players and two hundred cash players and tracked them for two years. One year they would play all cash, the other year all tournaments, I imagine cash players mean number would be better.

    Tournaments are a serious grind because of the drought between paydays. How much stamina do you have to sit there week after week with no cashes? We all have an A game, but we don't play it every day. I would think tournaments would be even more difficult to play your A game, week after week with zero winnings. Travel expenses are different. Again, it takes a stronger mindset to travel and lose week after week. Even when you get a huge win, the daily grind is difficult.

    I came in ahead of a lot of pros in one of the WSOPs. Many of them bought in 6+ times when the min cash was just twice the buy-in. They have sponsors. If playing on their own money, they couldn't afford to do it. If you are playing on your own dime, the stress level you will feel after going zero for all in the WSOP will put stress on anyone game.

    I play a lot of tournaments online. If you don't final table them, you are not winning much money. I think it's the same for live, only worse. If you go play a WSOP main and finish in the top 5%, you couldn't make a living. Twenty-fifth place at Foxwoods paid $4884-$1600=$3,284. Deduct travel, lodging, misc it will take a strong mind to keep playing their A game. Remember, cashing is not a regularity.

    I play a lot of tournaments online because I like them and it's good practice.
  • justfourfun Posts: 70Subscriber
    Take my particular situation results off the table don't even consider them - I agree variance. I stand by my opinion though that a good pro that can tolerate variance would have a better EV playing against weaker opponents in tournaments. Tournaments have weaker average player pool skill levels. We all agree on that issue. And that factor cannot be overcome. The tax consequences are significant and perhaps that tilts net EV.
  • squishmytomatosquishmytomato Posts: 336SubscriberProfessional
    @justfourfun - setting aside all variance discussions (which i think is a whole seperate beast entirely - as live poker is just so so so slow and negative or positive fluctuations can last for YEARS), i agree with you the skill level in tournaments is much lower than the skill level in cash games.

    here's what you're not taking into account: in mid stakes/high stakes live cash games, you're often playing super deep (300+bb poker) where every single mistake is magnified x100. a player you would call a "9" in this game has a SIGNIFICANT edge over even an above average player.

    in a typical live tournament where the structure moves super fast, a significant skill edge often cannot be realized when effective stacks are under 30bb for much of the tournament.

    if you're trying to make money off poker -- cash games are mutual funds and tournaments are penny stocks. the penny stocks can be fun and are worth buying sometimes -- but it's not a smart place to tie up all of your networth.
  • fishcake Posts: 823Subscriber
    I don't think a lot of people realize how big of a joke tournies are. Squish summed it up. But I would like to add how insane the variance is in tournies. I'm not going to link it but do some research for yourselves. You can't even realize your equity in tournies in a LIFETIME live. There's not enough of them or enough time. People went through tens of thousands of them online. If you want to "bink a life" or gamble then fine. If you want consistent income and peace of mind and not have to worry about things then get really good at cash and make that your focus.
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,026SubscriberProfessional
    James does have some points that the average skill level in tournaments is lower than in cash games.. Thats why you see so manIy rec players play tournaments and when they bust we cash game players are just salivating as they come into our realm..

    All of this said the title of this thread is basically get rich by playing tournaments and thats a falsehood. Along with other variance if you score early on in your poker career this might afford you the time to learn and get better.. If variance is not your friend and you go tourney after tourney after tourney before you actually make any money you just might bust. Even though your skill level is much higher than the field and or when you started.

    For a while I completely stopped playing tournaments. I generally don't enjoy them as much as I along with most cash game players prefer deeper stack play. That said I see the gold at the end of the rainbow and I too want to get my share. So i have played alot more and my results have improved.. I have won a few tournies over the last couple of years.. But not for $100k and only 1 for more than 10k. that said I will still play cash and invest in the tournaments that better fit my skill advantage which is deeper play with longer levels..

    and watch out wsop 2018 Ima coming back!!! (but we all know I am only doing it for the attention :wink: )
  • nofriends333 Posts: 741Subscriber
    Just for fun i dont want to burst your bubble but your post is more about sharing your joy of running good getting lucky and making some big bucks on a few tournament scores which is nice but its comparable to someone going to the racetrack hitting a big trifecta exacta etc etc , then calling his buddy on the phone "Oh man you gotta come out to the track they are practically giving away money with these longshots" Great for you but not great for us because we have yet to bink the big tournament score. This site caters to cash players who either choose cash over tournaments because they have had little or any success at all in tournament play Glad you made some big bucks but what works for you wont necessarily work for others . Wait till you go on a tournament losing streak then get back to us in a few months
  • nofriends333 Posts: 741Subscriber
    Jack7777 said:
    I have always heard the best players in the world play cash games. I think it's true. If you like to play tournaments, play them. They might be the best way to win money for you. If you take 200 tournament players and two hundred cash players and tracked them for two years. One year they would play all cash, the other year all tournaments, I imagine cash players mean number would be better.

    Tournaments are a serious grind because of the drought between paydays. How much stamina do you have to sit there week after week with no cashes? We all have an A game, but we don't play it every day. I would think tournaments would be even more difficult to play your A game, week after week with zero winnings. Travel expenses are different. Again, it takes a stronger mindset to travel and lose week after week. Even when you get a huge win, the daily grind is difficult.

    I came in ahead of a lot of pros in one of the WSOPs. Many of them bought in 6+ times when the min cash was just twice the buy-in. They have sponsors. If playing on their own money, they couldn't afford to do it. If you are playing on your own dime, the stress level you will feel after going zero for all in the WSOP will put stress on anyone game.

    I play a lot of tournaments online. If you don't final table them, you are not winning much money. I think it's the same for live, only worse. If you go play a WSOP main and finish in the top 5%, you couldn't make a living. Twenty-fifth place at Foxwoods paid $4884-$1600=$3,284. Deduct travel, lodging, misc it will take a strong mind to keep playing their A game. Remember, cashing is not a regularity.

    I play a lot of tournaments online because I like them and it's good practice.
    I agree with Jack about the practice. I have played many low buy in tournaments and observed some of these younger kids basically run over the table because they have the online experience to back themselves up. They are used to seeing to 3x as many hands per hour as opposed to live which is why they are able to dominate the slowed paced live events .

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