Friday, July 18, 2008

WSOP Recap Part One: Are Tournaments Worth It?

About a year ago I shifted from playing mostly cash games to playing mostly tournaments. I did this not because I was struggling playing cash or because I felt my EV was higher in tournaments, but simply because I find tournaments more exciting than cash games. Since then I've had a few solid scores and am up substantial money during that time period, but now I find myself on a cold streak in tournaments and wondering if it's all worth it.

There are three major problems I have with tournaments. First is the losing. In tournaments you lose and lose and lose and lose. A good player might cash one in seven. So six out of seven times a good player will lose money. When you do cash, you usually don't make the final table. This means you don't make substantial money most of the time you cash. This feels like losing too because you didn't really accomplish any of your goals. Even when you are fortunate enough to make the final table, you probably won't win. I walked into that damn convention center at the Rio 22 times this summer, and I walked out feeling like a loser 22 times.

The second problem is the time commitment. Tournaments require you to carve out a big space of time to play. It's not like a cash game that you can just hop in or out of. When I'm at home I rarely want to devote a six-hour stretch to playing tournaments. I want to play for a couple hours and then do some other stuff.

The third problem is that I have a sneaking suspicion that I suck at tournaments. I probably have no talent for playing them. I've played enough of them now that I should have entered some really profitable phase where I just tore it up and made a series of scores. That's never happened. I've made enough to know I'm a winning player in most tournaments but I've made few enough that I really, really have doubts about my talent.

Of course there are many excellent reasons to play tournaments. They are extremely exciting when you get deep. They are still loaded with dead money. Online cash games are getting tougher and tougher. Fish are few and far between as you move up the limits. I wonder if I can still get it done playing online cash. Perhaps not. Tournaments are still filled with weaklings. The big ones, like at the WSOP, are just loaded with players I know to be worse than me. They also have many players that are a lot better, but at any given time chances are I am in good shape skill-wise versus the field (at least at the WSOP).

If it wasn't for the emotional pain, the repetitive losing, I would probably keep grinding away at tournaments without taking a break. But all the losing wears a player down eventually. Maybe in a month or two I'll feel like playing tournaments again.

The best reason to play tournaments, and the big reason I haven't mentioned yet, is that you can make a monster life-changing score. Many of my friends have done this and now have almost complete financial freedom. For them, it has definitely been worth it.

On a related note, my pal Mike "SirWatts" Watson won the Bellagio Cup yesterday and pocketed $1,673,770. Watts is not a close friend of mine but I like to think we play a similar style and have had similar careers (until yesterday). In reality, he's probably less spewy and more ballsy. He had a rough WSOP, and maybe he was asking himself the same questions about tournaments a week ago.


Post a Comment

<< Home