Friday, 4 October 2013

September: the month of close calls

September is always a huge month for online poker and in 2013 it was no different. In fact, it was probably my biggest month to date with me wagering more on tournament buyins than in any month prior. Unfortunately, it also turned out to be a pretty frustrating month with a lot of close-calls but to act as if months like this aren't going to happen (and with some frequency!) as a tournament professional would be a huge naievity on my behalf.

 I have to say, despite the frustrations, I did have a fun month hardcoring on the grind. I can mainly thank Pokerstars for this and their excellent World Championship of Online Poker series that they held for 3 weeks this month. Alas, this time I didn't manage to reach one of the elusive final tables, however, I did manage a 3rd place in the 5card PLO8 6max second chance tournament. I had close runs as well coming in 12th in one of the big $320 NL events (which I final tabled 2 years prior) as well as a couple of other top 1% finishes which don't always guarantee too much money given how many runners in the field and how small payouts can be outside of the final tables!

I decided this month as well to step my game up and really try to give some of the better structured $1k, $2k and the main event a try. Despite no real success I had a really good time playing the super-deepstacked structures and felt very comfortable in them. I had top 20% finishes in the big Sunday $2k, $2k HORSE and the $5k main event but fell short of the money in all of them. Bit of a shame, as a cash in any of those would have been my biggest mincash to date online but I'm not too disheartened as I feel I played well (oh doesn't everyone think that!) and will keep trying to put myself in these positions so with a little added run-good can make a run for the final table and victory!

Alongside the Pokerstars WCOOP I was also playing my regular schedule as well as the Winamax series and partially selecting some of the MiniFTOPs series. The Winamax series I loved, the MiniFTOPs less so. I think that FTP with their MiniFTOPs series really need to cut down on all the novelty tournaments like Irish, Courcheval, 6-card PLO and go back to a more traditional series replicating more the WSOP. Sure it can be fun playing some of these weird poker variants, but they're often hard to multitable and there's usually a reason why the games never run as cash-games or are popular outside of the series. With the lower buy-ins of MiniFTOPs as well I was finding myself less and less motivated to play on the site as the series progressed.

The Winamax series on the other hand was a lot more fun. Their series is much more NLH-focussed and I believe to be much better representation of what the players actually want to play. Myself, Alex Goulder and BobaFett did a little motivational prop bet on the series working playing all NL events 6max+ and to see who cashed for the most. To tell the truth, we all performed quite poorly without a single final table between us all! I managed to secure the win in the prop-bet by making a few deep-runs final 2-tabling four of the tournaments but falling short just before the big money. C'est la vie!

I always find it funny how heater and downswing cycles work. I regularly play on 7-8 sites throughout the week and it's interesting to see which sites I find myself running like Usain on whilst simulataneously finding I can't win a showdown on other sites. This month I seem to be heating it up on Party Poker which is really ironic as after their latest update it's probably my least favourite site I grind on now. My ROI in their nightly $100 turbo (which is more like a $100 hyper on any other site) is way over 100% at the moment, seems sustainable..!

So after a long month of being a slave to my computer, I'm giving myself a bit of a break and heading down to London for the UKIPT and EPT series. This is the first proper series I've played live since Vegas and I'm really pumped for it. I've sold action for all tournaments above £500 and can't wait to get back into the action.

Interestingly, I've noticed that buying and selling action is starting to dry up a little bit, and I'd say it's probably about time. I'm noticing more and more in the 2p2 marketplace packages that used to sell out very quickly stalling for days and often not selling out at all. Over the past couple of years, from my observations alone, I feel that the marketplace has really been a sellers market with a lot of over-valued packages, very few "good" buys and lot's of "bad" buys that are quickly selling out. Naturally, as the long-run progresses, a lot of these "bad" buys tend more towards their natural EV and a lot of buyers either run out of money or become disheartened at constantly losing money by paying such premiums for peoples action. Now, whether it is because there's less money in the poker economy (which after WCOOP and the WSOP isn't suprising) or people are becoming more educated and knowledgable about buying action and reasonable markups the demand for packages has slipped a lot. Whilst this does effect me, as a mid-stake grinder, who semi-frequently sells action to live events, I still think it's a good thing.

I'll be quite happy to see the marketplace transition more towards a buyers market, with a lot more good value packages on offer so that investors can get exactly that; an investment rather than a roulette spin. In the current climate, there's really not that many good short-term investment opportunites as there is. Hell, even short-term saving rates in banks at the moment are often running below inflation (so the actual value of your money is decreasing even in a savings account) so to have more investment opportunities in an industry that I understand and feel confident in for myself is a good thing. Similarly, I'd go as far to say it's better for poker too. There are some professionals out there, without naming names, who rely day-in and and day-out for selling action to tournaments. They're not elite regs in the games and certainly not players that you fear at the table but they're also not big losers in the game either. If in tournaments you get a big influx of marginal regs who need to sell action to get into the game and all have between 0-15% ROI in the tournament, it does significantly reduce everyone else's edge in the tournament itself. That return has got come from somewhere, either by reducing other regs ROIs or further increasing a weaker players loss rate. And when these players can charge a 25% markup on their action it's generally just reducing the overall profitability and money being spread around the poker community.

Bit of a long-ramble there and I'm not sure all of my points are totally accurate as I have no figures or evidence to support them but I'd be pretty suprised if I was wildy off-point too. I also think these points and the trend will only continue and become more apparent as the number of higher-buyins on the online and offline circuit increase requiring players to have increasinly large bankrolls (or backers pockets) to support the events. As an example, you only have to look at highrollers to see how saturated that market is becoming. In London this month there's a EPT super-highroller £50k re-entry, £100,000 WPT Alpha8 as well as the usual £10k highrollers and £2k UKIPT highrollers. This is a trend that can only be exaggerated at the lower limits. So where will the money come from to support players in these events?
So an exciting couple of weeks ahead of me in London with the poker festivities. Then I'm debating going up to Edinburgh for a few days to see my Dad and friends up there and after that depending on how things are going it will probably be time to head back to the online grind again and try to earn some money to pay for all of this!

Good luck at the tables

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