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Tournaments can seriously damage your wealth

Tournaments can seriously damage your wealth As a recreational time passing or leisure pursuit tournament poker is a great option. For the professional player however, only a deluded mug would see tournament play as a primary source of making a living from poker, using their own money at least.

Tournament poker has a massive attraction to poker players and it traps its’ victims with the enormous promise of fame and glory, not to mention the fun that you can have for a relatively small outlay with the additional potential of a large payout at the end.

Tournaments have a psychological hold over its victims very similar to that of nicotine to smokers.

Tournament players live for that one big score that they know they are good enough to get and even when they do not get close, they see others making it and often those winning they perceive are not even as good a poker player as they are, so that re-enforces their delusion.

When they do get a decent win they forget the multitude of small losses they endured before they have the win and are often not in profit overall. Being flush with money for a short time feeds their addiction so they can keep hoping for a longer time into the future.

There is a huge difference, which most people tend not to appreciate, between "tournament winnings" and "profit from tournaments" (especially where live play is concerned with the inherent expenses that go with it).

I have been playing poker live and online for 25 years and I probably know more live and online players than most people.

I do not know one single winning professional player that considers playing MTT as your primary income source as a sensible option.

Even the top American pro players openly admit that they make their "real money" from playing cash and that playing tournaments is mainly for PR and exposure.

Probably the best tournament players in the UK at the moment are the members of the "Hit Squad", along with JP Kelly, Sam Trickett, and Neil Channing (though he is getting on a bit now) and what do these great players all have in common? They all generally make a lot more bottom line profit from cash games than they do from playing tournaments.

The edge in being a very good tournament player is so small, most of the time, as to not be worthy of consideration in the overall determination of your likelihood of winning any tournament.

As one of the top online money winners Dusty Schmidt so incisively wrote, playing tournaments is like participating in a lottery.

Bad players nowadays probably have 1 ticket each (it used to be 1 ticket between each 20 of them until the internet taught them how to most effectively reduce their disadvantage), average players have 2 tickets each, good players have 3 or maybe 4 tickets each and the great players have maybe 5 to 7 tickets each (Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu probably have about 9 or 10 each).

I am very involved with an online player sponsorship operation called Bankrollsupply where we provide the entire bankroll for online players and provide educational tools and mentors to enhance the games of those to whom we provide a bankroll.

My current main efforts are to try and get the multitude of delusional players that see tournaments as a potential pot of gold, to properly appreciate that most likely that attitude or belief is a quick way to a job that involves placing gherkins on hamburgers.

I do accept that tournaments are great fun and obviously you can get a nice win from them but, as a long term professional activity it provides a very bad business model for a sponsorship activity or indeed a stand alone poker player, who is effectively sponsoring themselves into tournaments, the principal is the same in both cases.

Ideally players should play a poker variation that makes them regular money and then sometimes, if they fancy a crack at a tournament, do so and it cannot really adversely affect their overall profitability if they lose (as is significantly the most likely outcome in every tournament played).

I have spent the last 6 months or so trying to change the mindset of the many tournament players we have, in an endeavour to make them more profitable poker players.

It is a very difficult task to accomplish similar to trying to persuade a smoker that they would be better off not smoking. It does not sound that difficult but, you are asking someone to choose to stop doing something they enjoy and get pleasure from.

The worst but most common way people try to stop smoking is to carry on wanting to have a fag but denying themselves the "pleasure".

The most effective way to stop smoking is to convince yourself that the reasons for not smoking are valid and therefore not wanting to have a fag in the first place, (even though you still have to go through the nicotine cold turkey).

Similarly, this is the most difficult mind-set to change with tournament players as well as the similarly psychological issues described below which apply to addicted smokers and tournament players alike;

Smokers that smoke 40 or more a day know they are addicted know its bad for them but don’t care because they also know that they do not have the discipline to stop doing what they know is bad for them, because they have an addiction.

The most psychologically deluded smokers do not smoke for a week and then have a fag as a "bonus" at the weekend. These are most addicted in terms of stopping as they see a fag as a "bonus" a "treat" rather than something bad that they cannot stop themselves from having and these have the least chance of ever properly giving up smoking.

At Bankrollsupply we have players that want to play tournaments they get in a hole and when they have a win they keep only a fraction of that win as the majority of any win covers previous losses first.

We now insist that all players (other than a small tournament group) specialize as their primary play in some kind of cash play or STT play.

It is quite difficult to be a successful full stack player as the standard online in 6 max cash games is probably beyond the comprehension of most live tournament players they would be eaten alive, though short stack cash play is a viable option.

STT is a good option as I believe a good STT mentor can turn any human being with an IQ in double figures into at least a none-losing STT player and then the rake back available can be significant in terms of earning, providing you make the effort to put enough volume in.

The biggest barrier to my endeavours in this is that nearly every tournament player thinks they are already good enough to play cash or STT but have absolutely no idea of optimal play.

It is a hard task to persuade someone to make ongoing effort to learn something that they truly believe they already know.

A good cash player will soon spot a donkey tournament player making tournament type moves in a cash game and I suspect many online players when spotting the tournament player on the table have a little chuckle to themselves waiting to "pick the money off the floor" which is about as difficult a task it will be to get them to "stack off" drawing slim or dead.

It is the same in STT play as tournament players try them, playing the same as they do in tournaments, with no understanding of optimal strategy, no appreciation of stack size bubble abuse or table dynamics.

They get it all-in in level one in a coin flip and lose and have been "unlucky" and on numerous occasions knock themselves out, sometimes in front when the chips go in, but had no need to ever play the hand that killed them.

So to sum up, if you want some fun, happy to pay for your entertainment with a small chance of a nice return then fill your boots with tournament entries. I myself love playing tournaments, though I do not play many nowadays, but I recognise them for what they are, in terms of a potential regular revenue stream.

If you want to make a regular income from playing poker then, if you are not prepared to do something drastic to get yourself noticed and sponsored (having some breasts grafted onto your head might work if you have no other obvious marketing attraction), learn a poker discipline than you can reasonably expect to make you money most times you sit down to play.

Tue, 7th December 2010

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