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Tales from my efforts to improve my poker game.
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Playing Above Your Bankroll

By: CanuckMonkey @ 21:15 (EST) / 1171 / Comment ( 4 )

So you'd probably expect me to write about the WBCOOP this week.  A very reasonable expectation; I almost did.  However, I'm keeping myself to one blog entry per week to avoid burnout, and this week I have another topic I want to discuss, mostly because it is time-sensitive!

When I talk about playing above my bankroll, I do not mean buying into tournaments or cash games that are too expensive for the size of your bankroll.  I would never do something like that!  (Well, not again.  No sir!  I learned my lesson after the first, um, eleven times.  Right.  Moving on...)

What I am talking about is that wonderful situation that comes up now and then, where the powers that be summon their angels, and while you are sitting at your computer, a little cloud floats down out of nowhere.  Sitting on the cloud is a ticket, one that will allow you to play in a tournament that would normally cost five dollars, or ten dollars, or more!  And the prizes for succeeding in this tournament are commensurately large.  Why, just making it past the bubble will increase your bankroll by 50%, or 100%, or maybe even 5000%!

And this is where the problem comes in.  You see, all the MTT strategies I have  been learning are very clear: a min-cash is nice, but it should not be your goal.  Your goal should be to build up a large stack on the bubble, when other players are playing weakly while trying to cash, so that you can go for a deep run.  After all, making a min-cash in 50% of your MTTs will give you nothing compared to making good, deep runs in 10% of your MTTs.

This is very true.  It is good, sound advice.  It works perfectly for players who are playing the same kind of MTT over and over; in the long run, the winnings from the deep runs more than outweigh all those min-cashes you sacrificed by attacking weakness on the bubble and occasionally getting outdrawn and busting out three spots short of the money.

But what if you won't be playing this kind of tournament over and over?  Your bankroll is small, and this ticket that came down to you on a cloud is something you wouldn't be buying with your bankroll for months, or maybe years.  What if a min-cash would double the size of your bankroll, allowing you to play more expensive tournaments sooner?  Would this be a good reason to play a weaker style, to be cautious and try to get past the bubble without worrying about a deep run?

Obviously, making a deep run in this kind of tournament will be much more rewarding.  When you consider the frequency of deep runs vs. the frequency of playing these tournaments, though, I think the +EV choice is to aim for that min-cash.

The reason I bring this up now is that I believe I will be getting a ticket for the second Big Bang tournament (coming up on March 9), and a few weeks ago, I received an $11 tournament ticket at Full Tilt just for pairing my accounts and transferring some money there from my PokerStars bankroll.  In the first Big Bang tournament and the Full Tilt tournament, I played my usual aggressive style.  In both tournaments, I finished well out of the money.  I have no regrets about these tournaments; I am still working on my NLHE MTT game, and I have no reason to believe that I would have survived past the bubble even if I had been playing a weaker style just trying to cash.

However, my game is improving quickly, and I suspect that I might now be able to cash in one of these larger tournaments if I played more conservatively.  I've got the Big Bang coming up, and I've also earned myself a $5.50 SCOOP ticket in WBCOOP Event-6, and both of these could result in significant bankroll increases that I won't get any time soon by playing within my bankroll.

So what should I do?  What would you do?  If you would play conservatively for a big increase in your bankroll with a min-cash, where would you draw the line and start playing for a deep run?  (i.e. if a min-cash would increase your bankroll by 100%, would you play conservatively?  How about 50%?  25%?)

Please check out my Time Vault thread in the Challenges forum for notes on my 2013 goal progress, some interesting hands I have come across, and miscellaneous commentary.

Until next time, good luck at the tables!

-- CanuckMonkey

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