Part 5 - Tourney Time
So after about 2 years of study and play, I was ready to play some tournaments, which was the goal all along. There was actually some overlap here. I was playing a few freerolls and $2 buyin tournies just to get a feel for the flow of this new (to me) format, while still messing with the training software
I felt that I had a pretty good handle on the pokering part of it, but there’s more to tournament play than that. This is where I started to develop my tournament strategy. One of the first things i noticed was that strategies that were effective early on tended to fail later in the game.
I eventually decided that this was mostly due to the fact that the average skill level changed throughout the tournament, with the lowest average skills at the start and the highest average skills at the end. This suggested that I needed to employ different strategies, each tailored to a specific stage of the tournament. This eventually morphed into the 7 stage approach i use to this day.
I soon found that my “sweet spot” were the $10 and $20 buyin tournies, which were capped at 1,100 seats. I sometimes played smaller ones, and sometime bigger, but this is where I concentrated my efforts. It became a matter of practice, analyze, then play some more. The tournies I liked usually filled in 5 to 15 minutes, which left me time to kill, so I played rings to pass the time, warm up, and tried to at least win my buyin back.
As i gained experiance and developed my strategies, I started hitting the money more and more. I eventually got to the point where my monthly cash rates were between 40% - 60%, which isn’t as hard to do as it sounds.
In 2006, the site ran a series of freerolls for seats to the WSOP main event. Even though I had grown to hate freerolls by then, i decided to give them a try. They had 72 of these a week, each with 3,500 seats, and the top 50 from each met on Saturday to play for the seats. That’s 252,000 players a week, with the finals having 3,600.
I made the finals, and made the final table. That week, 1st place was a $50k seat to the first HORSE tourney, and nobody at the table wanted it! We all went crazy and I went out 6th, winning the Main Event seat. They also paid for the hotel.
The next week, i again qualified for the finals. My plan was to sell the second seat if I won it. Late in the tournament, I was in a great position to do just that, but I had a nagging feeling. i called support during a break, and they told me the seats were “no transfer.” Oops!
This time, there was no HORSE seat, so the top 15 won main event seats, and I think the next 15 won what they called a “preliminary package.” This was $2k cash that was intended to let you enter one of the smaller WSOP events. I hate to admit it, but I dumped chips and ended up winning one of these 2K packages. Hey, it more than covered the airfare, so eh.
The actual main event was intimidating. i was in no way, shape, or form ready for it. 2.000 players on 200 tables, with lights, cameras, and more noise than you can imagine. I sat for the first 2 hours like a deer in headlights, afraid to do anything. I totally forgot the game that got me there, and it cost me.
I did get into the swing of things, but never got any real traction. I was the session closer on my day 1, so i guess I went out 3200-ish out of a field of almost 8,800. I managed to hold my own for 15 hours straight, against some of the top players in the world, so there’s that. I could have done better, should have done better, but i just wasn’t mentally prepared for the reality of the event.
Not long after that was Black Friday, when the US Gov clamped down on online poker, and that was that. I still love to play tournament poker, so here I am.
So here’s what you should take away from all this, if anything…
Have a plan.
Master the basics.
Don’t expect it to happen over night
Put in the work if you want the rewards
Play as much as you can, but play mindfully
Don’t be afraid to try new things, and develop a strategy that works for you
Have fun, these chips are fake, the people are real.
Thanks for reading this, which went much much longer than I expected. I guess I’m just a chatty guy!