View Full Version : Is Mike Caro right ?

11-09-2002, 07:02 AM
In "Online Poker News" Mike Caro claims that it is better for a good tournament player to play a lot of short tournaments than to play a few long tournaments.

This seems intuitively right to me, but can it be expressed mathematically ?

I know i cannot do it, but i will try to pose a problem:

Assume I have a 40% chance of getting in the money in a 10+1 Paradise single table tournament, giving me an expectation of $9 pr. tournament. (Not far from my actual results, when I played them).

I now am given the choice of either participating in ten such tournament or one 100+10 tournament that takes ten times as long. My probability of ending in the money in the long tournament is the same as in the short tournament.

Is it right that my expectation is $90 in both instances ?

But that my probability of landing somewhere near my expectation is bigger in the short tournaments ?

What is my probability of getting a profit in the short tournaments ?

Feel free to make other assumptions to better illustrate Mike Caros points.


11-10-2002, 12:01 AM
Well, if your ev is the same your ev is the same. But...

... your chance of being wiped out in the $100 tournament is significantly higher (assuming a finite bankroll). So, you are better off in the smaller tournament. Refer you to Malmuth's essays and some of the technical blackjack books on how to calculate the "Risk of Ruin".

So, this time at least the mad genius is correct.

11-10-2002, 09:39 AM
This is a great question.

My own opinion is that your EV will go up quite a lot in the long tournament but which is "best" is not quantifiable because it depends on your bankroll considerations and what risk of ruin you are prepared to run

My reasoning for EV going up.

Imagine a tournament that consisted of a ten single table tournaments against the same opposition and points being awarded at the end of each one.

This is some sort of simulation of a longer tournament, albeit a poor one.

Certainly if you had the highest +EV of the ten players, you would win this tournament a much higher %age of the time than you would win a single game.

Take it to the silly extreme that you win outright 80% of each single table tournament...you would be unbeatable in the series (Figure of speech guys..figure of speech)

However this is EV per tournament, and does not consider the greater risk, and also the EV per hour.

So as to which is "best" its very dependent, my view is that small and quick is better, but only because it suits my small roll.


Mason Malmuth
11-11-2002, 12:36 AM
Suppose you were to play in a tournament that consisted of just one hand. You would have absolutely no edge and would clearly be better off in a tournament that lasted much longer.

The proper way to answe this question is to attempt to compare specific tournaments, and to make reasonable assumptions about them. This will give you a better understanding of what your expectations for different events might be.

Now, in the general case, I suspect that just the opposite of what Caro says is probably correct. That's because most short tournaments have rebuy structure with progressive rebuys and multiple add-ons (at the break) which should dramatically increase the short term luck factor and also lower your long run expectation. (See our book Poker Tournament Strategies by Suzuki where these tournaments are addressed.) On the other hand, the quality of player may be weaker in these short term events and this may counter balance to some degree what I just stated.

Best wishes,

11-11-2002, 05:52 AM
If the structure and competition of the tournaments are such that the good player will have close to the same EV whether he plays a few large tournaments or many small tournaments, then it may be best for him to play many small tournaments in order to reduce the variance of his results.