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Tournament Poker >> One-table Tournaments

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Irieguy
enthusiast


Reged: 08/15/04
Posts: 340
Loc: Las Vegas
Signing off/ 10,000 SNGs of data/ some FAQs
      #2302700 - 05/03/05 02:15 AM

In preparation for the WSOP, I will be shifting my focus from internet to live play after I finish my current set of SNGs. Part of my on-line hiatus will include a break from this site until after the WSOP is over. I need to allow my mind to make the transition from "Push/Fold/Moron" mode to another mode that has too many components to name. But before I sign off for a bit, I thought I would summarize what I have learned about SNG play over the past year or so of very busy SNG activity. This is not meant to be an authoritative post or anything like that. It's just my opinion on a few things for the fun of it, based on a lot of experience.

As I was doing some bookkeeping regarding my backing/coaching partners last night I realized something. Between all of the players that I back, coach, or play with, I have either reviewed or personally recorded over 10,000 SNGs worth of data in the past 6 months. This is quite the heterogeneous data set, too. It includes players as young as 18 and as old as 68. It includes SNGs from the $6 level all the way to the step 5's, with at least 500 SNGs of data at every level except the step 5's (and close to 100 even there.) All of the players have the requisite knowledge to beat SNGs at some level, but not all of them are winning. A few of them disregard what they know about SNGs much of the time... but are winning anyways. It's quite a fascinating data set. I figured I would present this in "FAQ" style, because it will be a nice way for me to search for it and refer somebody to this later in case I ever feel like any of this is valuable. Again, this is all just my opinion based on a healthy amount of data and experience and I'm not interested in "proving" any of it.


What's the highest ITM possible at each level?

There is a limit to how often you can place in the money, even if you are playing against 9 monkeys. All you can do is get your chips in as a favorite when it matters most. How often you are able to do this will depend largely on your opponents... and that's why it's harder to do at the $215's than at the $6's. But even if you found the worst 9 players alive, you could only do so well.

That number is 44.4% or 4/9. I'm not talking about playing against 9 robots programmed to make the worst decision possible on every hand, I'm talking about 9 opponents who are trying their best to win money, but just can't do it (a standard $6 SNG.) 44.4% is simply the best that anybody can do over infinity.

I understand that a whole bunch of people have sets of several hundred SNGs with greater than 44.4% ITM. I understand that a few may even have 1000 or 2000 SNG sets that are slightly higher than this. I also understand the impact of favorable variance and I'm telling you that anybody finishing ITM more than this is on a heater from hell. Period. The best player in the world against the worst players in the world would be very, very, very close to 44.4% ITM over infinity.

So, what's a "good" ITM? Well, I can tell you after watching a whole bunch of really good players play a whole bunch of SNGs, that if you can get 40% at any level above the $11's you are either kicking ass or running hot (or both.) Once you get to the 1000-chip games, right now in 2005 the very best players may be able to achieve 38% over a very large sample.

Again, I understand that a few players may be able to furnish some impressive numbers that seem to prove otherwise... but I don't care because all those players will be gone in a year or less.

What's the highest ROI possible at each level?

This question is much more difficult to answer. I think that after reviewing 10,000 SNGs you probably have a good idea about where peoples' ITM really lives, but to have any idea about ROI you'd probably need to review a few hundred thousand SNGs of data (to really get a good impression of how people are doing.) So here's what appears to be true, though I'm much less sure about this than my opinion about ITM:

A great $6/$11 player can probably sustain 30% or so.

A great $22/$33 player can probably sustain 22% or so.

A great $55 player can proabably sustain 18% or so.

A great $109 player can probably sustain 12% or so.

A great $215 player can probably sustain 6% or so.

I understand that there are players who have done much better than this over a large number of SNGs. I've done better than those numbers at just about every level for hundreds of SNGs at a time. Sometimes you're hot and sometimes you're not. When the dust settles, the above numbers are likely to live in the optimistic ballpark for even the best players.

When should I move up?

Whenever you want to.

How big of a bankroll do I need to play SNGs?

This answer is much more complicated than it seems. It really depends on what your bankroll really is, and what you want it to do. The best answer I've ever seen to this question was AleoMagus' very serious answer of "one buy-in."

If your bankroll is only what you keep on-line, and the purpose of your bankroll is to keep you from ever going broke, then you need more than you think. Risk of ruin calculations are somewhat helpful in this regard, but it's all so ambiguously related to what you would REALLY do if you lost it all. Most serious players would simply find more money and start again.

Experience has shown me that most winning players will drop 20 buy-ins at least once in an average set of 500 SNGs, and some will drop 30. Over 1000 SNGs, you are likely to see 35-40 buy-ins dissappear and reappear over a stretch. Over 5000 SNGs, you better have a back-up plan if you keep 50 buy-ins as your "working bankroll."

I understand that not everybody experiences this. Good for them, they're running hot. It's fun to run like that. I know somebody well who played 1800 SNGs (multitabling) without a 20+ buy-in drop. That was awesome. (Over his last 400 SNGs his ROI is under 5% and he dropped 30+ buy-ins.)

Hey everybody, check out my ITM/ROI!

AKA

Should I quit my job today, or after 500 more SNGs?

There's a phenomenon that is not widely discussed, yet is pervasive on this forum. It involves positive reinforcement and selection bias.

There are close to 500,000 people playing SNGs at on-line sites around the world. How well do you think the luckiest 10% do each month? Well, the luckiest 10% (regardless of underlying skill level) do quite well. So, each month, there are 50,000 people or so who are convinced that they are the next Stu Ungar of the SNG world. If you come to believe that you may be able to make a boat load of money while playing poker on-line, you are likely to start doing some research into this idea. You will read, search the web, talk to people, etc. This process is likely to steer you in the direction of RGP, pokerpages, and this site. You are likely to learn the lingo, pick up some stats basics, and start convincing yourself that you are likely to be the real deal. This will happen to thousands of people every single month. A few thousand of these people will keep winning big for a little while, and a few hundred will keep winning big for a long while. This is all irrespective of skill level. These few hundred players; the luckiest 10% of the luckiest 10% of the luckiest 10%, are going to be able to make quite a convincing case about their poker prowess.

But the fact remains that probably less than 5% of all on-line players are beating the rake. I would argue that it's less than 2%. We are blessed on 2+2 to have at our disposal the free advice from several players representative of this small group of long-term winners. But of the hundreds of players on this site who are winning this month, or even this year, only a handful of them are playing the right way. Only a couple will still be participating in discussions about winning poker strategy in another year. Why would I say such a horrible thing? Because I've been posting on this forum for around 5 years (only recently as Irieguy) and nobody from back then is still around. Greg Raymer was around from 2001 or so (maybe longer) until last year when fame stole him from us. But forget about 5 years ago, somebody will sometimes reference a post from 6 or 8 months ago and there won't be a single poster in a thread with 1000+ hits who still posts today. Now, I'm not saying that the only reason why people leave is because their luck runs out and they get loser (Raymer is the prime example to the contrary); but that's why most people lose interest. So, you can pick your favorite 20%+ ROIer of the month and I will bet you even money that they're out of the poker world (effectively) in a year. In fact, I have several bets of this nature working right now and I sleep well dreaming of my payouts during WSOP 2006. Conversely, somebody who has "been around" for 5 years is 50/50 to be around for another 5 years. This is an old prop-bettor's rule, and it would have served you well prop-betting on the tournament circuit over the past 15 years.

The purpose of this rant is to simply point out that if you are winning, and have been winning for a little while, there are a couple of explanations for it: 1. You are blessed with natural poker ability. 2. You are on a heater. One of those two explanations is mathematically more likely.

How can I tell if I'm really good at this game, or if I'm just a luckbox on a turbo-steamer?

I've commented on this several times before, but it's worth repeating and rephrasing. If you think you are really, really, good at poker... have you ever wondered why? Here are some very good possible explanations:

1. You are a game-theory expert with an academic background in a field of study that applies well to poker problem solving.

2. You have played 5 million or more deliberate hands of poker. (They have to be deliberate; you don't learn anything while drunk, screwing around, posting and folding, or gamboooling) and have been winning over the most recent significant sample. You can't just start out by beating the game. You can start out winning, but you can't start out beating the game.

3. You have mastered another analytical game such as chess, bridge, backgammon, or gin. World-class status at games of incomplete information like bridge or gin are particularly likely to improve your chances of poker mastery, and vice versa. Dance Dance Revolution wouldn't count.

4. You have extensive training and/or experience in a vocation that involves interacting with thousands of people a year who are under extreme emotional duress or jubilation: like a social worker, psychologist, physician, lawyer, or Keno runner. This type of experience allows you to become intimately familiar with how different people respond to different emotions.

5. You are a natural-born poker prodigy

My experience has shown me that the first 4 explanations rarely apply and that most winners are relatively sure that they are just naturally good at the game. The problem with #5 is that I don't even know of such a human. Stu Ungar was the best gin player in the world before he started playing poker, and even somebody like Phil Ivey had already played millions of hands of poker (albeit at a very young age) before he started winning at the highest level.

So, if you can't explain your success rationally, then it is likely that it will be short-lived. There are a lot of people out there who are smart, well-read, well-prepared, and experienced in the art of extracting money from people who try to play their game. You may be able to BECOME one of them, but you can't just BE one of them.

Screw you, Irieguy, I'm going to use Aleo's guide, read Harrington's book, play 16-tables, get 30% rakeback and make more money playing SNGs than I could at my lousy job no matter what you say.

Bwahahahahaha... now you're on to something. All of my above comments notwithstanding, SNG poker as of right now is just a tic-tac-toe game. You can learn basic winning strategy relatively quickly, even if you don't meet any of the above criteria for winning qualifications. You can play a bajillion games and squeek out a small profit. But you better have a sweet rakeback deal because you won't win as much as you think, and it won't last forever.

I can't spell, my grammer is no good, and i get defensive when your replies insult me. Can I still be a poker god?

No. If you can't spell, you don't read. You can't spell because you don't know how words look. If you don't read, you don't know what everybody before you has already learned, and they've already learned everything, so that means you don't know anything.

If your excuse is that you really read a lot, and spell well... but you just don't take the time to read your own posts before you post them, then you are careless and you lack focus. There aren't many careless poker masters that lack focus.

Typographical errors and occassional syntax errors are part of the human brain naturally malfunctioning. I'm sure there are a few of each in any lengthy post (not including the ones in this section.) I'm also well aware of the conversational tone and syntax of an interactive forum. But if you notice that your posts routinely have spelling or grammatical errors (of course, you won't notice it yourself but you may notice other people pointing it out), I promise you that your poker game will improve if you start reading more. Poker books do not count in this regard. "Can you see why?"

I can't wait for an english teacher or writer to sift through this post and find 27 spelling and grammatical errors... before even mentioning my horrendous misuse of the ellipsis.

So long for now.

Ok, I'm off. I look forward to seeing all of you who will be coming out for the WSOP and I look forward to diving back into SNG poker "full time" in July. It's likely that I'll have a pretty big bankroll deficit from which to recover.

Play the right way,

Irieguy


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minwoo
stranger


Reged: 08/16/04
Posts: 16
Re: Signing off/ 10,000 SNGs of data/ some FAQs [Re: Irieguy]
      #2302785 - 05/03/05 02:27 AM

Great post. Good reality check.

Good luck at the WSOP!!

Edited by minwoo (05/03/05 02:32 AM)


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ilya
addict


Reged: 05/24/04
Posts: 460
Loc: Party Poker
Re: Signing off/ 10,000 SNGs of data/ some FAQs [Re: Irieguy]
      #2302803 - 05/03/05 02:30 AM

Godspeed!

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UMTerp
newbie


Reged: 10/06/03
Posts: 26
Re: Signing off/ 10,000 SNGs of data/ some FAQs [Re: Irieguy]
      #2302819 - 05/03/05 02:32 AM

Good luck at the Big One, Irie. I've definitely honed my SNG game quite a bit from thinking about some your posts. Hopefully you'll find your way back here in a few months - the forum will miss you.

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Blarg
veteran


Reged: 06/06/04
Posts: 1519
Re: Signing off/ 10,000 SNGs of data/ some FAQs [Re: Irieguy]
      #2302863 - 05/03/05 02:38 AM

Good luck. Whatever happens, it'll make for good stories, and you'll probably eat out on it for years. Let us know what it's like!

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ace_in_the_hole
enthusiast


Reged: 10/08/04
Posts: 235
Loc: 23k hands so far in March
Re: Signing off/ 10,000 SNGs of data/ some FAQs [Re: Irieguy]
      #2302903 - 05/03/05 02:44 AM

Quote:

How can I tell if I'm really good at this game, or if I'm just a luckbox on a turbo-steamer?

I've commented on this several times before, but it's worth repeating and rephrasing. If you think you are really, really, good at poker... have you ever wondered why? Here are some very good possible explanations:

1. You are a game-theory expert with an academic background in a field of study that applies well to poker problem solving.

2. You have played 5 million or more deliberate hands of poker. (They have to be deliberate; you don't learn anything while drunk, screwing around, posting and folding, or gamboooling) and have been winning over the most recent significant sample. You can't just start out by beating the game. You can start out winning, but you can't start out beating the game.

3. You have mastered another analytical game such as chess, bridge, backgammon, or gin. World-class status at games of incomplete information like bridge or gin are particularly likely to improve your chances of poker mastery, and vice versa. Dance Dance Revolution wouldn't count.

4. You have extensive training and/or experience in a vocation that involves interacting with thousands of people a year who are under extreme emotional duress or jubilation: like a social worker, psychologist, physician, lawyer, or Keno runner. This type of experience allows you to become intimately familiar with how different people respond to different emotions.

5. You are a natural-born poker prodigy





Are you a #2?


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raptor517
stranger


Reged: 01/12/04
Posts: 7
Re: Signing off/ 10,000 SNGs of data/ some FAQs [Re: Irieguy]
      #2302917 - 05/03/05 02:46 AM

yea well, ill' show you, you, you punk that says i cant not spell or be gramatical like, or use proper punctuination and stuff. and i dont no how to spel. what is that anyhow?

Quote:

World-class status at games of incomplete information like bridge or gin are particularly likely to improve your chances of poker mastery, and vice versa. Dance Dance Revolution wouldn't count.



damn. so much for my hopes of ever doing well at a game that requires the use of incomplete information. sigh.

irie, you know im sad to see ya takin this long extended break, however, my saturday games will be MUCH easier with one less solid 8 tabler. you make a bunch of great points about all these luckboxes on turbo heaters. i know one person im thinkin bout right now who KNOWS how to play and beat the game, but just isnt coming up with the results. i really think he could beat the 109s, without too much trouble at all.

anyways, i dont really know what to say. my panties arent in much of a bunch after readin this as you would think they would be. i can see how a lot of people might read this then immediately think, 'hahah, that sounds like that punkass kid raptor.' well, maybe it does. however, one thing is for sure, i can read. holla


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Pepsquad
newbie


Reged: 07/02/04
Posts: 27
Re: Signing off/ 10,000 SNGs of data/ some FAQs [Re: Blarg]
      #2302927 - 05/03/05 02:47 AM

This sucks! But I can appreciate your dedication toward your goals at the WSOP. I wish you the best of luck and please get back here as soon as possible.

I wouldn't want to be at your table. They won't even see you coming.

See you soon Irie.

Pep.


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syka16
enthusiast


Reged: 12/11/04
Posts: 241
Loc: San Diego
Re: Signing off/ 10,000 SNGs of data/ some FAQs [Re: Irieguy]
      #2302933 - 05/03/05 02:48 AM

Quote:


I can't wait for an english teacher or writer to sift through this post and find 27 spelling and grammatical errors... before even mentioning my horrendous misuse of the ellipsis.




I'm an English teacher


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DonButtons
addict


Reged: 12/13/04
Posts: 604
Loc: miami/new orleans(tulane)
Re: Signing off/ 10,000 SNGs of data/ some FAQs [Re: syka16]
      #2302995 - 05/03/05 03:00 AM

Gotta be like me, I am the one (party poker gave me the exclusive right to suck out a lot).

Maybe this summer I can get in 6000 something sngs to see where I stand.


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