Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Internet Poker Tournament Strategy - Think You Are Unlucky?? Think Again!!

This post was inspired by a forum thread on Poker X factor... concerns a little Poker Psychology and a little Internet Poker Tournament Strategy.

The post started with someone bemoaning his apparent bad luck - always busting out of online poker tournaments when 70/30 or even 80/20 favourite... sound familiar? Yep, happens to me too!!

Now I am not going to talk about poker bad beats here - far from it. This is interesting from a more human point of view, our expectations compared with some cold hard statistical poker reality.

Say that during a given tournament you are all-in several times. The reality here is that, even if you have the best possible pre-flop edge (will use 80% as a round number) you will bust on one of them more often than you will survive. The unfortunate truth is that if you gamble for all of your chips there is no way to avoid the fact that you are favourite to get busted!! Here are the numbers (I'm not an advanced mathematician so in simple format!).

- First 80/20 - Fine, you are still in the MTT 80% of the time.

- Second 80/20 - Now you are still involved 80% of 80% = 64% of the time.

- Third 80/20 - See the pattern, now its 80% of 64% of the time, this = 51.2%

- Fourth 80/20 - so 80% of 51.2% now, thats 40.96% of the time, we are statistically likely to have been busted (and damn we are going to feel unlucky!!)

Now it should be obvious what happens when we add a couple of 60/40's or 70/30's to the mix. We are now at the stage where we are not only statistically likely to have been busted, but looking at a really small chance of survial - easy for this to get to 10% or 15% here.

There are of course adjustments to be made, I would suggest that there are 3!

- Make sure that your big-hand situations are for all of your opponents chips, but not all of yours!!

- Practice good bankroll management, no need for the heavy duty Kelly Criterion stuff - just make sure that all of your tournament eggs are not in one basket.

- Be aware that the odds of surviving multiple all-in situations are stacked against you, do not tilt your bankroll away when those aces get cracked.

Just remember that any time now that tournament where your hands hold up all in a row is coming right along... after all - it is statistically likely!

Gl at the Tables,



Scott said...

Once again I have extensively pimped your blog via my last post.Actually linked to you 4 times in one post lol. Thank you for your articles they help us little people out. I am in the middle of a big SnG challenge for a small timer like me could use your insight. check it out and see what you think.


Mark said...

Thanks for the links Scott, I do check out your fine blog (if you see visitors from Budapest in the Google Analytics then that is me!).

GL with the challenge, the hardest part of these is to overcome any irritating downswings.

Another blog you might want to look at for SNG strategy is called DonkeyDevastation... oh and of course www.sitandgoplanet.com !

Cheers, Mark

Scott said...

Any chance we can go over a few hand histories? sometime via e-mail?

Mark said...

Hi Scott, No time for full hand histories at the moment. If you put some specific hands / bubble situations on your blog i'll be happy to leave my thoughts next time I stop by though!!

Cheers, Mark