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On MTT game Selection, BRM and why some flexing don’t impress me

Posted by Vikram Singh on 2017-03-17 at 12:00 AM

My current coach has advised against playing a high frequency of 44$ mtts on a 6K USD bankroll with 1 extra bullet (about 6K more in tank) to fire.

Why I don’t just put up the entire 12K and play higher? [B]That and many other questions are what I will try to answer below. [/B]

I am a low-mid stakes player and back in the day the first tournament I won was the 8$ [500 max entries] on Pokerstars which paid me $878. It was 2010 I believe and my first foray from 180 mans to MTTs.

As a 2.20$ 180 man grinder I was prouder than proud.

As a recreational player I [B]Won[/B] a 55 2x entry turbo, quite a few 22 SKO’s and a few reggy but fun 40+10+4 = 54$ KO. Those were the glory days of [I]rake[/I] and [I]vanilla formats[/I]. Selections included some awesome [I]1R+A or 2R + A[/I] formats that [U][B]played deep[/B][/U] but restricted your [I]ABI[/I] by capping the rebuys. I placed 3rd in a 331r1a; had my share of FT bubbles because my skill set was geared very much towards push-fold 180 man turbos so variance was high.

When [B]BF[/B] happened, GTDs dropped, there was uncertainty in the games, I was still having fun playing the early morning $33s, turbos, 109s on an upswings, 11s on downswings. I was keeping the coaching going.

Then came the wave of the [COLOR=”red”][B]Bigs[/B][/COLOR] and [B][COLOR=”red”]Hots[/COLOR][/B] and also a globalization of online poker unlike the first one. When I got back to playing I was seeing people on my table from countries I’d never have expected 2 months prior. Guarantees improved but structures and rake changed. I didn’t pay much attention because this was the time I was busy fixing my back and poker was not on my mind.

Now we have [COLOR=”red”]Bounty Builders[/COLOR] and a high degree of [COLOR=”black”][I]variant Freezeout[/I][/COLOR] formats that according to Stars attract fish. These games are very beatable but also easy on your average recreational player who can take a shot at a high BI tourney and expect one third the time to get most of the buy in back by catching some bounties thus enabling him/her to play more instead of being discouraged.

Pokerstars pay structure has always suited fish. It’s very flat and therefore pays a higher percentage of the player pool. Some changes have been made to this and I am optimistic about the upcoming [B][COLOR=”darkorange”]SCOOP[/COLOR][/B].

This entry however is not to discuss at length the format changes but how the current environment plus these changes we all know about – [B]affect our bottom line[/B] and what can be done to improve it.

There is higher rake on one side and game structure that reduce skill advantage (Pokerstars pulls in some of the lowest ROI numbers across the board online) on the other hand.

All these factors have made me chuck out Sit n Goes and cap myself at 44$ with my coach insistent that my [B]ABI[/B] must not come close 20$. The same is true of another sicko who has a thread on TwoplusTwo and completed his challenge of converting 43$ into 50K. His name on 2p2 is [B]Khanrava[/B].

The thread is epic and mind boggling. How can someone have the patience and I don’t know what many other skills to grind 11c sngs on Merge, buying tourney tickets whenever possible and eventually reaching his target in less than 2 years.

Being situated in a country where a lot of [B]off-site[/B] options are available, he does not play much on Stars anymore except a Sunday or two.

Our Turbo diet is pretty low. Perhaps 1 in 10 tournaments, maybe even lower and I don’t use my entire BR because I always want to have liquidity that is free and allows me to invest in tools and coaching for improving my game.

Let’s forget Bounty Builders and PSKOs for a minute. This is a hand with a old time winning reg.

[B]I think he ought to call me there. It’s the right play:[/B]


[B]I want to focus more on these games:[/B]

Apply skill, no 3bets when it’s hard to be perceived as bluffing but not worrying as much about this becoming a big multi-way pot:


[B]can make tight folds, read on the guy was tight but in a BB, probably not folding if the opponent has 2x or higher bounty:[/B]


Or make plays based on reads – Have a ton of hands on the opponent and his 3b from BTN to the effective stack size LP open is 2/6 in the current session and 7/24 over the entire sample. Face it, 30 odd places from the money, this is a bare play back spot for him. I’d like a better Ax or preferrably no Ax and something JTs but I am ahead of his 3b range there enough times and can get him to fold better Ax sometimes.


[COLOR=”blue”][B][SIZE=”6″]Cliffs: Far fewer dynamics and an ability to apply your skill more than your heater.[/SIZE][/B][/COLOR]

Plus there is also the fact that a lot of FO hands relate to Bounty Builder and Progressive KO spots than the other way around.

The BBs and PSKOs also corrupt your win-rate and profit – leverage your stack and call a 4 way all-in with bottom 30% of the deck and you may win all the bounties or take a better than marginal spot and not make any.

Yet, suck outs happen in vanilla FOs and re-buys as well but the frequency of running bad is less since the games, even though quite pre-flop aggressive, are no match to PSKO aggression, gambling and variance – from the stand point of massive player pool alone, let alone playing style differences.

Here is a perfect example of a FO hand where we ran bad:

Taking this variance into consideration, I would highly recommend players to play within their bankroll. Get coached instead of taking a shot when you bink a tournament and are at a point of higher liquidity than your BR usually allows.

I have shown many players how their profitable graph over 3K games was ruined because of a 200 game sample of hyper turbo six maxes, 4 max shoot outs, playing high BI Turbos and participating in 30$ 18 mans. [

[SIZE=”6″][/SIZE]B]The only way to navigate tough games is to have a tougher strategy and deep bankroll[/B]

I am as impressed by someone winning the Hot 162$ as I am with someone winning a low-runner Big 33$. In fact, in the Big 33$ you are likely to end up with more regs in the F2T than a a Hot 109$ Turbo. Although this claim can be swapped at early stages, and it’s just my opinion.

If you have a massive BR – It makes sense to play these games but I would still play the Big 162 rather than the Hot 162 and I am a player who has a better understanding of [B]raw AIPF equity[/B] (used a lot in Turbos) than I do of [B]bluff catching[/B] (made use of a lot in normal and slow speed tournaments)

My above claim regarding [B]deep bankroll[/B] roots from the simple idea that [B]knowledge is power[/B]. Do you review a deep run or mark hands for later review? That is the most basic of studying and reviewing you should be doing. I’d find Villains in your database who you have big sample of hands on and review their play. Take notes on them retroactively.

Create simple reports on your own play.

How is my winrate above blind lvl 2k. Am I losing or winning flatting marginal hands. Do I need to adopt a different strategy in spots where I will look super strong? All of this is data available in your PT4 or HM2. There is an easy way to figure out whether you are running good or bad using excel and some filtered data exporting. These tools will help you in those ‘HUD spots’

As I wrote previously, mentality and practice will help you from spewing and game selection with tight Bankroll Management will get you from a break-even sort of chuck 250$ in stars and play a 109$, a mid stakes and a small stakes tournament and bust your roll again and again.

There is also the concern of coaching and training sites – You are not the only one with access to them – a lot of recreational players also do. Moreover, what you can learn, he or she can learn too. Never underestimate your opponent is an adage as true as the wisdom it’s old age allows it to be.

So whether you are in a stable or playing on your own $, watch training videos (takes 20 mins on 1.67x speed on VLC) invest in coaching and always [B]think think think[/B].

If 10 regs are being taught a strategy, [B]your mind should be on[/B] – can I exploit the fact that regs are taught to play a certain way, and are given ideological red flags regarding actions when the case is that each spot merits it’s own logic and that logic might need tweaking and tuning for the optimal play whilst I take advantage of information I have on the other player’s strategy.
Can I exploit what training videos teach me. In the end, no rule says 3b larger OOP. You want to balance that range with 3betting monsters sometimes so you need a lower sizing which requires another range of hands you can 3bet smaller – [B]hands that flop well[/B].

So when you have tougher games (Trust me there is an 11$ or 7.50$ gold mine running every hour on stars), tough opponents, fish that are way behind the curve but learning certain fundamentals of tournament play – It is important you choose soft sites, low runner low BI tourneys and most importantly – [B]play your normal schedule well within your bank roll’s constraints.[/B]

[B]Don’t be impressed by someone flexing on a hype of a hyper turbo high BI win or a turbo that had less runners than a 180 man[/B] and think that you play decent and thus a few flips, a bit of luck and you’ll win these high variance format but low runner tournaments. On the flip – don’t be afraid of mass fields, usually unless it’s a series like SCOOP or WCOOP the Big 22 75K on Sunday runs just an hour or so longer than the rest of the week’s game.

In fact, I played 496 hands in a Big 82 I won with 500 odd runners. 604 hands in the 22$ SKO. 551 hands in a deep stack tournament that I finished 3rd in, and 661 hands in a 27$ mass field event I placed 2nd in but had 4-5 times the player pool.

And lastly, improve your post flop play. In this deck of cards that is your resource, there is a limited number of each value a card brings, introduce that into your thought process, use that to your advantage and also remember – there is a misconception that high stakes games are full of sickos that making the sickest plays. Nah, most of the time, it’s still as simple as [B]Open – Cbet – TID[/B]. The only difference is, a higher percentage of the player pool does not make blunders or many mistakes, yet they can very easily latch on to your tendencies and exploit you and have good reads on the regs they play against.

[B][SIZE=”6″]They are waiting for you at high stakes tourneys, tell them, see you in the Big 22 journey.[/SIZE][/B]

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Vikram Singh

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