Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tourney Success - Good or Lucky?

Multiple Table Tournies are great to play in... probably one of favorite things. Definitely, the thing that has won me the most money... so what I do... I play (or historically have played) mostly limit holdem... because... Yikes... I don't know why. Probably for the mere fact that I haven't been successful with them has made me keep playing to try and figure things out.

Anyway, tournies are where it is at for me lately. My question is really more of the rhetocial nature. Do you have to be good or lucky to be a successful tourney player? Obviously, since you see the same faces on Pocket Five Leader Board or any of the typical leader boards, you have to be good. You obviously have to have the skills. But there are too many of us (types like me) that probably don't play enough or just don't get it. As I have mentioned, by watching a few hand histories from 2+2 MTT Forum, you have to be lucky. Let me say that again... If you are going to deep into a MTT, you HAVE to be lucky. Of course, this is no surprise as poker is gambling; but the question I seek is how much skill and how much luck. Again, rhetorical as I don't think there is an answer.

So what is starting this thougth process. Dah.... Running Bad... I've recently taken a look at all of my all in hands in the past couple of weeks (not including hands where there were people that had 3 or less BBs) to see how I've been doing. I haven't finished the final tabulations as I am also including SNGs but the results aren't too encouraging. Basically, I am making 5 categories:

Way ahead... more than about a 70% favorite
Ahead... somewhere in the 60's% favorie
Coin Toss
Behind.. somewhere in the 40s%
Way behind... less then 40%

We'll see how it turns out.. just from a top down look.. I am winning about 40% overall in the last 2 weeks for all of my all ins... I would expect that number to be over 50% as I would like to think that most of the time that I get my chips in the middle, I am ahead... and no worse than a coin toss. I will be really interested to know how that turns out. One thing for sure as I am doing this, you certainly seem to remember the bad beats more than the times that you suckout or similarly, the coin tosses that you actually do win.

Here is what seems typical for me these days.

I am playing in a $7,500 gurantee $24 buyin on FTP the other day. I thought there was going to be a huge overlay in this tournament; but it as usual, it filled up quickly at the end and there was no overlay; but I still played. 380 or so people playing.. We get down to about 90 people and I finally get a good hand with two Red Aces. Blinds are 150/300 and I am in the SB. Folds to Cutoff who raises to 1055. (Nice!!!)... Button Calls (Nicer!!!!)... SB (our Hero) says no time to play around, let's shove our 4,200 chips in the middle. I happy to take it down here... BB folds and so does cutoff.... Button takes just a couple of seconds and calls.

What range do you put him on... he is getting around 2-1 to call. What kind of hands can you call with? Also, this call would put him all in (not me)... although it would leave me with only 200 chips. Well, he turned over 76s. In my mind, I was pretty shocked that he called the original raise with this hand... and even more shocked that he called my all in re-raise.

Well, the flop was all spades including a 6 (he had clubs)... but nobody had any spades.. however, the river did bring a 7 which gave him two pair to more or less kill me. Had I won this hand, I would have moved to the top 10. Two really sad notes here. He lost all of his (my) chips a few hands later.. And also a few hands later, I got AA again... but at that point it was too late. Went out around 83rd.

Can anybody explain this call on the first raise or on my All-in?

Now, let's move to the Mook last night. Not much is happening for me although I am staying a float with nothing more that stealing blinds with the hammer (3 times). I can't remember for sure; but I think there were about 73 people last night. We are nearing the 2nd break and I barely above water. I am in last place or around there as things moved around. This hand comes down where somebody (who I will not mention because it is besides the point... This is not a Hoyish type rant; but more about good vs luck) from the MP raises around 3 times the BB and I reraise for 1000 chips for more with AJs. He doesn't have to call as it would not cripple him if he lost; but it would sure leave a mark. Any way, his calling hand of choice was A7o. Am I feeling confident.... NOOOOOOO!!!.. and didn't take long to find out the bad news as the 7 came on the flop... and just to rub it in, a 7 came on the turn and a 7 came on the river to give him quads and IGNH in the low 20s.

Now, I realize a lot of this is just poker; but really how much is MTT success contigent on luck? Those 2+2 tournies, I watch, there are at least 2 or 3 hands that the guy has won that he shouldn't have. The Mook winner last night... same thing... Coin Tosses have to be won... Big hands need to hold up... That's the lucky part.. The skill is knowing when to bet and check... knowing when you can steal some chips.... reading players... etc, etc... and many, many people have this down.

Well, I will continue the fight and see where I end up. I'm around 30th in the Blogger Challenge leaderboard with no money earned. While, I'm not way disappointed with that, I just know that it could be much better if I were just a little bit more..... yep, you guessed it. Lucky.

1 comment:

Jestocost said...

The answer to your headline question is, of course, "Yes."

Your chances of success are greatly enhanced by playing well and making good decisions, but your going to have to get luck a few times along the way. Lucky in the form of winning a few races, in the form of resucking when someone you had dominated got ahead of you, or just plain old sucking out when you make a bad decision or someone had a monster up against you.

There are players who are consistently successful in tournaments. I can think of no other way to explain this than to believe that they are better at playing tournaments than me and most other people.

Now, one of the odd things about tournaments is that because the top payoffs are such a large multiple of your investment, you can be successful in terms of being an overall winner by finishing high in the money in a relatively low percentage of your events. One win—or even a top three—in a $19K or $24K guarantee probably puts me ahead for my poker career.

The problem is, that if you play tournaments as seldom as I do—maybe four or five in a really big week—you can go a LONG time without winning a dime. If you plan in 10-15 tournaments a day, five or six days a week, your wins will come closer together even if your overall success rate is the same as mine.

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