Dead Money in Poker Tournaments

There are thousands upon thousands of players heading to Las Vegas for the annual WSOP. In fact many of them will be there already. I do not mean to be a doom monger here but I have never been to the WSOP and have no intention of ever going. I am not a tournament player and not only that but I also know that my style isn’t strong enough to get into contention to win a bracelet. I know that I am a solid player and that works well in cash games.

I just feel though that in a large event that although my chances of cashing would be decent……I wouldn’t have the gamble to get into the top four places. This is what I feel is needed as fields have become very large in recent years. I have simply played too many cash games and not anywhere near enough large field tournaments to be able to change that either. Also I would hate the thought of travelling all that way and incurring all those expenses to bust out in several $1500 events. This makes going to the WSOP a very negative sum experience for nearly all who play there.

I don’t mean to put people off because at the end of the day you can win a huge title that could change your life forever. This is not to mention the life changing sum of money that you could win taking down a big event or getting very close. However nearly all of the players who are in these events will not have the optimal style to win it! They will either not have sufficient skills or they will not have sufficient gamble to amass a huge stack. It takes a combination of luck and tournament skill to take down a big one.

I suppose that tournament players are no different to cash game players in so much that most of them believe that they have more skill than they really have. A classic example of a cash game player that overrates his own skill is a multi-tabling grinder that makes a small hourly rate with most of it coming from rakeback. You do not need to be Phil Ivey or Tom Dwan to multi-table NL50 and play tight solid poker and exploit fish with good game selection.

These are relatively simple skills and is why it is becoming increasingly difficult to make money grinding low levels. To win a huge field poker tournament either live or online involves gambling to a large extent and the players that gamble more have an edge. By “gamble” then I do not mean raising and re-raising and calling raises all over the place. But you do have to play more than just hand strength and you need to be able to put your tournament life at risk on the hunch that your opponent is weak. In a typical 1000 field tournament then the winners usually have a very good “tournament style”.

Tournament winners are not the players that know the most about poker although in some instances they can be. They also tend not to be the best players on a technical level as well. There is a world of difference winning an event with say 100 players in it and winning one with 1000 players. The merely “good” players who gamble can amass huge stacks that actually by default make them a much superior player because their arsenal of possible moves is greater. By sheer definition then some players will get lucky and if you are more active and playing more hands then you will give yourself numerous chances to get lucky. The flip side of course is that playing marginal hands increases the chances of elimination.

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