Stud: More on tournament bankroll

stud-thumb.jpgby Adam "STUDstood" Roberts

In my last post, I began blogging about which tournament events to enter. More specifically, which ones may have the most value.

I want to make clear that I didn't mean to NOT make a regular buy-in to a specific event. What I did state, and stand by, is that you will get more value when you can get into an event by:

  • winning a satellite (I recommend trying 1-3 satellites for a given event)
  • buying into shootout-structured events
  • buying into rebuy events and not rebuying
  • playing when enough prize money is added by the casino that you are getting a significant overlay on your money.
  • But if you have enough of a bankroll, buying into regular events may be enjoyable, profitable, and give you beneficial experience.

    There are few things more enjoyable in poker than making a final table. Even just lasting longer than anticipated, especially against high-quality opponents, may make losing your buy-in a fun experience for you. This applies at whatever buy-in event you decide to play, and there is always the chance that you will cash in any given event.

    Poker tournaments are also a great way to gain experience, without exposing yourself to too much potential damage. It's not a bad idea to buy into small events, whether it is in your best game or not, to gain tournament experience which may end up valuable to you down the road.

    But as we have discussed before, if you are using poker to make a living or to make needed money, you will have to manage your bankroll accordingly, and not "waste" any of it on frivolous items both on and off the poker table. Poker tournaments can be profitable, but the difficulty of cashing and the high variance involved can place an enormous strain on a bankroll. That's why I suggest looking for the best opportunities, the ones with extra value.

    You should also take into account that live casino events can necessitate travel costs (hotels, airfare, rental cars, etc.) which must be taken into consideration along with your actual tournament buy-ins.

    Also remember that the time you spend competing in a tournament will take away your time in cash games, which (if you are a winning player) cost you your average earn for the hours you could be spending in those profitable (for you) games.

    While it is possible to accurately assess your hourly earn in a given cash game (please read a previous blog which covers this topic), it is much harder to do the same for your tournament hours, because of the very high variance in tournaments.

    It took me less than one year to play 2000 hours on PokerStars in the $30/$60 limit games in the Stud section. Therefore, I pretty much know what my hourly earn should be in those particular games, over time.

    In multi-table tournaments, it's very difficult to play enough hours to get an accurate assessment of your hourly expectation for a particular type/buy-in event. Even if you compete steadily in the same weekly or daily events (even given the vast array which PokerStars offers), it will take you longer to log 2000 hours in each game/type/buy-in.
    To explain further, I generally compete in PokerStars' weekend $215 buy-in events in Stud, Stud Hi/Lo, and Razz. If I play in one of those events every week for one year, and on the average last three hours in each event, that would only give me approximately 150 hours in that event per year. Conversely, I could fairly easily play 2000 hours during one year of play in a single type of cash game.

    There are stories of players, especially high-limit ones, who want to actually quit a tournament which they were still competing in, because there was a "juicy" cash game at a high enough limit to where they felt that their hourly expected earn was far greater in that cash game, and were willing to give up on their tournament to try and take advantage of that cash game situation. In their mind, winning big in the tournament was unlikely, but winning big in the cash game was more of a sure thing.

    I disagree with that concept, but do understand their way of thinking. In tournaments, you really have to have "blinders" on. In addition to the physical and mental preparation we discussed previously, there can be no distractions, since one mistake in a tournament can cost you your whole buy-in, or cripple you enough to make cashing in that event unlikely.

    That is why I actually value online tournaments more than live ones, especially at a site such as PokerStars, which

  • Adds prize money to their tournament pool in many events
  • Allows you to use your FPPs to buy-in to some events.
  • Offers a wide array of types of events (different games, limits) and types of tournaments (Sit & Go, multi-tables, satellites, etc.)
  • Again, added money may give you a nice overlay to shoot for. Using your FPPs gives you a total free roll, which I always like. And, like in cash games, you may be more adept at, or just prefer to play, a certain type of tournament structure or game. PokerStars offers a wide variety to suit your personal taste, ability and bankroll. Plus, the tournaments online go a lot quicker (as do their cash games) as more hands are dealt per hour. Online, you're just not tied up for as long. Some people value the alacrity of online play, whereas others prefer the longer, drawn out structure of live tournament play.

    And if you have the head for it, you can actually do both online, playing in a tournament and a juicy cash game. I only recommend doing that if you have had successful experience multi-tabling, as it's very difficult to focus on two different types of games at once, especially in Stud games where board cards need to be remembered. In a sense, if you're up for it, you can have the best of both worlds online. Obviously, it's impossible to do that in a live tournament!

    We will elaborate on this discussion next week, as well as proceed with our tournament strategy.

    In the meantime, you can find me in the $10/$20 and $30/$60 limit games in our Stud section, as well as in our weekend $215 buy-in tournaments for Stud games. Please check the starting times of each of those events under Tourney > Special in the PokerStars lobby.

    Feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions or thoughts at

    See you at the tables!

    Brad Willis
    @BradWillis in Strategy