Reflections on a week of ITH tourney play

I’ve been spending way too much time playing the new ITH league events. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is an entry to the WSOP main event or an entry to a minor event. I suspect that there are much easier paths to that entry, but I’m not always that bright. Facing the decision of whether or not to play in these events has taught me a few things about why I play poker and what I value.

From a financial perspective, the tourneys don’t make that much sense. I’ve given up probably 12 hours of ring game play with an expected earn of $1,500 at 30/60 to chase a $1,500 prize that will require many more weeks of play. It would clearly make a lot more sense to play more ring games and just pay my way in. I have been a net winner at the ITH events, by some miracle, but it amounts to a $22.63 profit. I’ve paid $40 in entry fees and won $62.63 in prize money. That’s a solid $2 an hour win rate, or less than I’d earn playing $0.50/$1.00 limit. Heh.

The thing is that I’m having a really good time. Part of it is the interesting differences in mentality between tourneys and ring games and part of it is the sense of community and fun that seems to thrive at these events. I made fun of Bull for about an hour last night and it made the time go by much faster. I’m not sure what else I’m looking for in poker. Many people talk about “proving” yourself by winning at the highest limits, but I think that is mostlly silly. At the higher limits, you have fewer and fewer fish and although many of the high limit players still have leaks in their game, they tend to be smaller leaks and the level of aggression and trickery gets higher. It becomes a game of very small advantages with associated bigger swings. If I jump to 50/100 or 100/200, I could imagine downswings of $10,000 or $20,000 coming very, very fast. I think very solid emotional control is one of the biggest strengths of my game, but I’m not sure I would handle losing that much as smoothly as I’ve handled previous bad runs. Even worse would be one of those fabled 300 BB downswings. If I dropped $60,000 at 100/200, I’d have to kill someone. I might take some shots at 50/100 when it looks juicy, but I’m not particularly eager to get to 100/200. I’m seriously considering devoting myself to MTT play from now until Summer.

I’ve yet to win a seat into the Main Event WSOP freeroll, but I’m getting closer. I was in a good position to win a seat in last night’s event, but I took a couple of beats with the best hand and got bounced in 4th or 5th. I felt really happy with my play in the event and I think I had some moments where I was really in good control. I’m starting to get a pretty good read on a number of the ITHers as we play the same people week in and week out. I’ll probably keep playing, but I suspect I’ll drop out of the freerolls. That just seems too silly to me, to invest a couple of hours for 100 points at most. I’m holding onto 16th place in the overall standings, despite missing a few events and being among the first one or two out of a few others. I’m clearly more willing to gamble it up in the early stages than most ITHers. I’ve taken coin flips for all my chips four times in the early going and lost all four! Perhaps I should learn from that and stop taking them, but instead I just figure it will all even out in the long run. Interestingly, in one of those, I battled back from a short stack in Level 2 and came in 3rd.

I also have been less into sports betting now that football is done, but some of my longshot schemes have started to pay off and I’m getting more interested. I’ve won enough to buy my way into a couple of WSOP events now, so my enthusiasm for sports betting is climbing back up.

By Nsidestrate

I'm a hard-core limit ring game poker player who is becoming a degenerate sports bettor. I'm sure it will all make more sense if you read on.