Limit Tourneys compared to No Limit Tourneys

It is my thesis that Limit tourneys offer a higher advantage to the skilled player than No Limit tourneys do.  I base this on a number of factors.  First of all, it is my observation that many otherwise skilled players in these events have a limited grasp on proper limit poker strategy.  Namely, they chase pre-flop with hands that might have good expectation in NL due to higher implied odds, but are clear money losers in limit and they miss many very thin value bets.  Skilled limit hold’em players seemed to comprise a fairly small percentage of the field.  I believe that the low buy-in tourneys feature many unskilled players in both disciplines, but the popularity of NL as a tourney event has elevated the standard of play for many players.  In the limit event, it is my sense that many of the players rarely if ever play limit poker.

Furthermore, limit poker provides more play in general, which gives the good players more chances to save an extra bet or extract an extra bet.  Over the long time horizon of a tournament, these skill differential seems to favor the better players more surely than it does in a no-limit event.  A bad player can miss many value bets in NL, but hit one set over set or one crucial overpair all-in pre-flop and make up for a whole day of missed value.  One AA vs KK confrontation will probably not rebuild your stack in limit poker.  This argument cuts both ways, because an unskilled player will often play 200 hands passably well and then manage to give away their stack in one spectacularly bad hand.  Nonetheless, I feel that I have very often looked around at the end of a no limit event and seen the last few tables full of players that I know have played terribly.  In general, the last few tables at a limit table will all be reasonably skilled players, in my opinion.

Having said that, you can still go from an above-average stack to a desperately short stack in a very small number of hands in limit poker.  The ever escalating blinds place extraordinary pressure on your play in the later rounds.  For instance, at the outset of level 11 I was sitting on 23,000 chips which was just over the average stack at this point in the event.  The blinds were at 500/1,000 chips.  I played a single hand that cost me more than half of my stack (13,000 chips).  I saw a hand between Victor Ramdin, Eric Lindgren and some internet player where Victor started the hand with 32k in chips, which was an above average stack at that point in the event.  By the time the hand ended, Victor was sent to the rail when Eric caught a set of Queens on the river to knock Victor’s Kings to the rail.  Ironically, I would have flopped the nut flush draw and busted out on that hand too, had I called pre-flop.  That was about an 80k pot at a time when the average stack was about 30k.  So, there is still certainly luck involved in this form of tourney poker and one hand can really turn your fortunes around.

The equation is magnified for me, since limit poker is my best discipline, one in which I believe that I can play at least break-even with the best players in the world and where I have an edge against even fairly skilled players.  I believe that every one of the regular players in my usual games on PokerStars would be massively +EV in WSOP limit poker events.  The flaws that I know in my regular opponent’s play are minuscule compared to the errors I saw in this event.  I would love to play in more of these events, but the schedule for them is fairly limited and the time I have available to play is also an issue.  I continue to believe that I also enjoy a pretty significant edge in the low buy-in NL events, but that edge is smaller in part because I am not as skilled in NL and in part because the nature of NL poker allows bad players who connect with a few good hands to make a lot of money.

I’m trying to put together a series of trip reports on my WSOP this year, but finding it slow going thus far.  One of these days…

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.