Monday, June 22, 2009

WSOP Reflections

Not counting the main event which I'm scheduled to play on July 4th, I've played 6 WSOP tournaments to date. I've gained some valuable experience and learned a few things:

My no-limit game needs a lot of work. I found myself confused in a lot of post-flop situations, unsure what the right play was, and sometimes unsure of what I should even be thinking about. Part of this is due to a totally different style than I'm used to playing. Before I was primarily a pre-flop player looking for spots to steal blinds, make big reraises, and use my tight image to make big bluffs postflop. Now I'm seeing a lot of flops cheaply and putting myself into a lot of different post-flop situations. I need to get my no-limit game on par with my limit game. My plan is to continue watching videos, playing tournaments, and reading books. Once my SuperNova chase is over next year, I'd like to play the no-limit cash games and work on developing a balanced strategy that's difficult to exploit. I should be able to apply a lot of what I've learned from limit to no-limit as far as balancing hand ranges and actions in different situations.

Tournaments are a battle of attrition. I knew this from my main event run several years ago but the memory had faded away until I played back to back 15 and 12 hour days this past week. I was completely exhausted when we were down to 3 tables yesterday, I kept getting up from the table and trying to clear my head. It's mandatory that I get at least 8 hours sleep, eat well, and workout whenever I'm playing an event.

Tournaments, especially live ones, have an incredible amount of short-term variance. Playing 25-30 hands an hour and spending the majority of a tournament with less than 20 big bets adds up to unbelievable short-term variance and luck. I need to accept this, forget about results, and focus on making the best decisions I can, one decision at a time.

There are very few limit hold-em players playing limit events. I would guess at least 75% of the field in the WSOP limit events are no-limit players. This means there's a lot of value to playing these events and it's my best shot at a bracelet. I plan on playing as many as possible next year.


  1. Blind levels could change the dynamics especially with those with low stack. They would more likely put all in their chips and some get lucky getting more chips to carry themselves further in the tourney. I am not a big fan of NL turbo tournies because it could kill your big stack in no time when its level gets higher quickly.

  2. I prefer deeper stack tournaments as well. There's more "poker" being played because there are more meaningful post-flop decisions. Whereas with high blinds most of the decisions are all-in pre-flop.

  3. I have a question for you and I am not sure if it's any relevance.

    I notice that a chip leader like Naaldan with a relatively large margin of lead cruises to the final table without any challenges. I wonder if a large margin of lead would statsitically warrant a chip leader a final table? I remember Naaldan had like 400K when the average count was 150K, the blind levels were 2K/4K and 18 players left and he didn't have (ast least from what I see - the blog) any serious challenges. Based on the situation with Naaldan above, Naaldan had like 38 percent margin of lead and the blind levels were only .5 to 1 percent comparing to his stack, that would be an easy path for him, right? Is there something I should look at differently?

  4. I'm not sure there's an easy way to figure out what your chances of making a final table would be based on your chip stack and the blinds. The majority of money in most tournaments is in the top 3 spots so you always want to shoot for those places. There were several players when we were down to 18 that were playing extremely tight. It was apparent they were trying to get to the final table but this is a terrible strategy given how much money is in the top 3 spots compared to 4th-10th.

    You should take a look at ICM, you can google it. There's also an explanation of what it does here:

  5. nice post. If limit tournaments were televised I would be more inclined to play, but in terms of pure ev you gotta just grind out the hands online and rack up the moolah.

  6. Agreed. Tournaments are so time consuming and there's not a whole lot of EV in them - nothing like cash games anyway.