(Quick disclaimer to my previous post: I didn't actually qualify for the WPT Foxwood's event proper. I, erm, *cough*, merely qualified via a satellite to play in the Paradise tournament that provided two trip packages to the event. I should have made that very salient point much more clear. Many thanks for the congratulatory comments, but I, erm, *cough* am so not deserving of them. But hey, on the bright side, it's nice to know that people are reading. *Waves*)
Thank you, Blogspot, for eating that post. You're a sneaky bastard, eating only the longer, meatier things I post.
Finished 90 something out of 320 in the Paradise WPT Foxwood's tournament last night, that provided two trip packages to the WPT Foxwood's events. Nothing very exciting, took a shot in a monster 4 way pot with a good drawing hand (KQc) that didn't quite get there. I got in via a satellite so I only had 10 bones invested, which made it a good bit easier to push on such a speculative hand. Lately I've been more aggressive in MTTs, which I think is good. In the past I tended to play to cash too much, letting myself get blinded down in order to limp into the money. Which is great, finishing in the money, but more often than not it ended up paying me something like 8 bucks an hour, when it was all said and done, and sucked up three or four hours of my life that I'll never get back. So lately it's been more balls to the wall (Where the hell did that phrase originate? Is it purely alliterative or is there some kernel of meaning there? Or is that assonance instead of alliteration? That's definitely assonance. But the real question is why do I love ginormous parenthetical ramblings?) play, shooting for a big score instead of a few measly bucks. And I'm cool with that, despite not yet hitting a big score.
It's interesting, watch the WSOP coverage. For most of us wannabes it constantly poses the eternal question of "Hmm, they're good, but are they really that good?" And I think it's a valid question. Granted, we're not seeing a lot of the real skill that's employed over days and days, all of the small steals and plays that provide the chips for the all-in thunder that gets televised. So sure, there's a reason that you keep seeing the same names near the top of the heap, time and time again. Pros are pros for a reason. Their skill set and experience is such that they are, simply put, better players than the rest of us.
But there is a counter argument to that I think, in regards to major tournament play. And it's the obvious, grunt monkey argument that tournament play is, in many ways, simpler than cash game play. The "quality" of your play (for lack of a better term) is greatly compressed, with a much more limited number of hands defining your success or failure. Catching AA (and having it hold up) three consecutive hands is just a blip on your long-term cash game radar, no matter how much you rake in. Catching AA three consecutive hands in a tournament (with favorable circumstances) can give you a dominating chip lead that directly translates to a major cash prize.
This is more debatable, but I also think tournament play requires less skill, in general. Well, not less skill, but that there are fewer essential lessons to learn. I'm sure I'm missing some, but you can come up with a pretty short list of principles one must adhere to be a successful tournament player in the long run:
1) Play to win. Your long-term profit depends on big scores, not barely limping into the money.
2) If the pot is large (anything over 10BB) play to take it down immediately. Do not get fancy and allow people to draw out on you. Unless you have the absolute, uncrackable nuts, don't try to build big pots even more through sneaky play.
3) At some point you will have to steal in late position with complete rags. Probably more than once. Make yourself comfortable with that fact. If you have to, arbitrarily pick a hand in late position to push, no matter what you have, if everyone folds to you.
4) If you have a stack of less than 10 BB, never call a bet. Raise, push, or fold.
5) If you have the biggest stack at the table, never call a bet. Raise, push, or fold.
6) Learn when to take your shots. At some point you'll have to push (usually pre-flop) with less than the nuts if you want to win. Don't be scared to enter monster multi-way pots with hands that are almost guaranteed dogs but have good drawing potential (KQs, A10s, etc.) You have to get lucky somewhere. Maximize your return when you do.
7) Play tight early. If you're good, you're good. You don't have to rely on doubling up on the first hand with KK, calling an all-in bet pre-flop.
8) Be aware. If it's a big field with a small buy-in, expect crazy loose play at the beginning. If re-buys are available, expect crazy loose play as long as they're available. If it's a relatively expensive buy-in (over $100), expect crazy tight play until the first break. In nearly every tournament, expect crazy loose play right after the bubble is reached. Conversely, expect tight play right before the final table, even if the payout structure doesn't greatly reward 10th over 11th, etc.
9) If you're the big stack at your table, pick on middle stacks. Not short stacks. No, no, no. I see this all the time and it drives me crazy. The short stacks are your friends. Their short stack actually forces them to play better (i.e. more aggressively) than they normally would. The middle stacks are the weak, vulnerable ones who are tightening up, waiting for the monster hand.
10. Play to win.
Long story short, the point of this babbling is that I'd argue that if you bankrolled most experienced online NLHE tournament players (all you bloggers out there), removed all financial concern from their minds and allowed them to play all the major WPT/WSOP events with no financial worries or concerns whatsoever, they'd produce damn good results. No, they wouldn't dominate, they probably wouldn't win the WSOP, but I bet the majority would, over a five year time span, produce average annual profits that would equate to a pretty good living. I just don't think that the advantages of the pros are that great to overcome the more simplistic nature of tournament play.
So, umm, yeah. I'm changing my tune slightly. I think we all could win the WSOP. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Hellmuth. Or, you know, whine about how crappily the pipe was packed, or how lucky it was that someone just happened to have a lighter available, or that it just isn't fair that the Earth has to revolve around the sun.