Thursday, October 11, 2007

Head Not in the Game, and FTOPS Satellites

I barely played any poker on Wednesday night -- even though I won that FTOPS #2 $322 Razz seat on Tuesday, my cash results were utterly despicable and undid the last day or two of solid profits in one fell swoop, so I guess I just wasn't feeling it last night. I showed up Hellmuthianly late by 10 minutes or so to the Mookie, and I promptly won the first hand I saw with a steal. Unfortunately I could not stop replicating that action over and over again -- with total disregard for my cards -- and shortly after proclaiming what a donk I was playing like, I pushed allin on a preflop reraise with, of all hands, ATs. Yes guys, that's how disinterested I was in playing last night I guess. I pushed allin against a preflop raiser with that uber donkey dominated hand of AT. But it was soooooted of course. On Wednesday I was nothing if not a sooooted donk. Here I got called by 88 and did not improve in what honestly was probably the best realistic outcome for my hand, I suppose other than KQ or something like that where I was actually a slight favorite, but then who really calls my allin rereraise preflop without an Ace or a pair anyways, right? So I was among the first people out of the Mook, and I think I might have played one other quick mtt or sng or something, very low buyin, just to kinda go through the motions, but once I realized for sure that that's all I was doing, I checked out for the night and that was that. So not a good night at the virtual felt, but I didn't play much and my heart and my head certainly were not in it.

So instead last night my real poker-related contribution was I took some brief notes on all the FTOPS satellites I like to play, as far as what runs regularly in the evenings on full tilt. And when I say evenings, to be clear, I'm talking about the evenings roughly 8pm - 12am, and I'm talking New York time here (otherwise known as "real time". All other time zones are known as "fake time"). That's typically the only time I'm ever sitting down to play, so that's what I focus on as far as trying to get in to the upcoming FTOPS VI events on the cheap. I've written about some of these FTOPS satellites before either recently or in previous FTOPS series, but this may be the first time I'm putting a current list together of everything I think are the best plays of the bunch. I've gotten a number of requests over the email and in girlie chat about what I think is the best way for someone to play into the FTOPS, so here goes:

For starters, I much prefer the regular mtt sats to the ongoing sng sats for the FTOPS. If you have a specific goal of a tournament to get into, and full tilt offers mtt satellites to it on their regular schedule, it is simply better to play the mtt satellites as long as your bankroll can afford it. The addition of even just one or two extra seats other than the single winner of the tournament changes the play in the event, and the chances of you being one of the winners of the seat, dramatically in the players' favor. I'm serious -- the entire game plays out differently than it would have in a winner-take-all format like I had to win the other day to qualify for that Monday 1k where I got bent over by the poker gods. But these mutli-seat mtt satellites are much more a fight to outlast the remaining players than they are an all-out free-for-all race for total domination like the winner-take-all tournaments basically have to be, in particular near the end. So trust me if you don't play these things a lot -- you can generally buyin for less in an mtt sat than in an sng sat, and you should have a better chance to win in the mtt sat as well, if you play great poker. It's that simple. And if you have to play an sng sat, following the same principle, the best thing you can do -- assuming your bankroll can afford it -- is play those double-buyin sats where the top 2 finishers out of 9 players win the seats, rather than winner-take-all. Again, in my opinion this more than doubles my individual chances of winning a seat, so I'm a buyer of that option almost every time it's offered.

So, focusing on the mtt satellites that full tilt has thus far started running regularly on the evening schedule, first let's start with FTOPS #1, which is 6-max nlh with a $200 buyin, running at 9pm ET on Wednesday, November 7. There is a nightly tournament shortly after midnight ET with something like an $8 buyin into this tournament, but make no mistake: even for the very best tournament players, that is still a hard tournament to win. Very hard. Out of 30 runners or so, there's going to be just one winner, and that is a tall order for anybody to try to meet. I won't even play an mtt satellite like that btw, the odds of winning are so bad. I need to step it up a notch or two usually to get into the area where the odds of winning justify the buyin needed to get there.

And that's where this nightly 9:50pm ET $10 rebuy satellite that I've written about so many times over the months comes in. This is also a satellite into FTOPS #1, but with roughly the same 30-40 runners a night, and by the time you build in about twice as many rebuys as there are entrants, plus about 2/3 as many addons as there are entrants, you're typically getting FTOPS seats awarded to the top 4 finishers or so. 4 out of 40 is a heck of a lot better than 1 out of 30, n'est-ce pas? That 4 out of 40 tournament isn't just winnable. It's very very winnable. The play is typically horrible, and often just one or two big hands is enough to get you to the final table in decent shape. Then it's just a question of survival from there until the last 3 or 4 spots. Yes there's a lot of skill to that, but if you're a good nlh tournament player like so, so many of you are, this is a pretty easy tournament to win a seat in. I would estimate my lifetime in this particular structure at this particular buyin level is probably about a 50% total rate of winning seats, with an average buyin of probably $30 or so overall. I'll almost always take the discounted addon at the end of the 30-minute rebuy period, so that's really a $20 buyin, plus you have to enter one of these things expecting to have to rebuy at least once or twice. If you play it a lot you'll have those days where you double up early and never look back, and you'll also have those days where you get pwned and end up rebuying three times in the first 20 minutes. It happens, and if you only have $10 to spend, then this tournament is definitely not for you. But if you don't mind committing potentially $30 or $40 on this night to try to get into a $200 buyin tournament, which means that if you bust 15 minutes in and all the stacks at your table are now over double their starting levels, you are looking at an auto-double-rebuy. If you can handle that thought, and want to play FTOPS #1, then this shiat is for you nightly at 9:50pm real time on full tilt.

Moving on to FTOPS #2, which is that $300 + $22 razz tournament I mentioned above, full tilt is only running one type of mtt satellite into this event as of right now in the evenings in real time. Even the times it runs are not actually good time for me, but fortunately I managed to win my very first attempt in this thing the other day so I won't have to keep trying to make myself available at these off-hours. This is a $75 buyin mtt razz satellite that runs nightly at 8:40pm ET and 2:30am ET, and it's a great tourney to play and qualify in, if you're a good razz player and want to play in a $300 razz event. Now I recognize that $75 is a very steep buyin for most of you out there, as well as for me, but again the bottom line is that when you up the buyin of the target tournament to $322, you simply are not getting anything resembling good satellite value from a $10 buyin or even really a $26 buyin event. For $10, only 1 out of every 33 players will win a seat. That's no good, as I've discussed above. $26 is possibly worth playing, in that approximately 1 out of every 13 players can win a seat to the $322 buyin, but even that is not a great ratio when it comes down to it. Think of having to outright win a 13-person tournament. It's doable, but it's not easy, even if you're a great player and you play great. Of course, as discussed above, winning the top 3 seats out of 40 players is a lot easier than winning outright out of 13 players, even though the 13:1 ratio is the same for both. But you get my point, that even finishing in the top 1/13th of finishers is still a tall order. I much prefer my mtt sats to award seats to 1 in 10 players or better; that is, to 10% or more of the entrants in the satellite. So like in that $75 razz mtt sat that I won the other day -- yes the buyin is $75, but trust me when I say that, if your roll can afford it, that's the level you want to be at to satellite in to a $322 buyin tournament -- it had 15 runners, 2 spots pay seats, plus another spot pays some decent cash. 3 out of 15 spots are worth fighting for, and that ratio is right in my wheelhouse.

FTOPS #3 is another $216 buyin tournament, this one in pot-limit holdem, an event in which I have won a seat I think in each of the FTOPS series I have played over the past year and a half or so. For #3, so far the best mtt satellite goes down at 9:40pm ET as well as at 1:50am ET every night, both of which are $26 buyin sats. This is a nice level for a $216 buyin tournament, because you're still awarding seats to one of out every 8 or 9 players overall. Paying $75 to satellite in to a $216 event is fine, but at that point I think the reward does not so much justify the risk of buying in for $75, with seats going to basically 1/3 of the entrants. $26 is a nice level for the $200 tournaments because it keeps the playin ratio at more than 10% but not so much more that the buyin barely justifies trying to play in to a $200 buyin tournament. This is a satellite that I will win one of these nights, as pot-limit is a game that generally seems to play to my strengths as an mtt guy and just about the furthest thing from an allin pushmonkey, and although the 1:50am ET one is clearly more tailored to you West Coast donks, that 9:40pm ET nightly satellite is at a decent time for me most nights.

Briefly I also wanted to mention FTOPS #4, which is that $500 PLO 6-max tournament I wrote a little about earlier this week after I got recockusucked on twice from a big chip lead heads-up to end up in 2nd place with a nice wad of cash but no seat for my efforts. For #4, so far full tilt is running mtt satllites again at the $75 level, because for a $26 or smaller buyin, the reward will basically never be more than 1 seat for some large number of players, and most of the regular satellite guys like me will avoid that thing like the plague. I want to get good expected value for every satellite dollar I spend, and paying $26 to play a winner-gets-the-only-seat FTOPS #4 satellite with 34 other donkeys is not good value to me. So $75 is where it's at for this event as well, which awards seats to basically one of out of every 7 entrants. Although PLO is not a hugely popular game on full tilt from what I can see, there's usually enough interest in this satellite to fill a couple of tables at least, and the competition is not good as I saw in my one and only foray into this particular satellite tournament so far. This one also runs nightly, at 7:45pm ET (too early for me usually) and I think 1:30am ET (too late for me usually), but either of those might be better for some of you in different time zones than real time, but if you enjoy PLO like this donkey has been lately and you know how to play, and if your wife allows you to play in Saturday afternoon tournaments like FTOPS #4 is, then this is the right satellite for you.

One last thing -- at 10pm ET I think a few nights a week (maybe it's Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday or something?) is the $150 satellite into the the $1000 + $60 buyin FTOPS #7 nlh tournament, back from last time around due to popularity. Now once you get up to the 1k buyin level, a $26 satellite is basically of no value at all (paying out just one out of every 41 entrants or so), and even the $75 buyin sats start looking pretty unattractive right quick, themselves only paying out one out of every 15 people who play. So full tilt once again recognizes this issue -- they do have professional players making a lot of the decisions over there, don't forget -- and so they smartly run super sats into this $150 satellite tournament every night it runs in the 7:50pm ($10) and 8:10pm ET ($40) time frames. I particularly like that 8:10pm super sat, because for a total of $40, you only have to be one of the top 4 or 5 finishers to win your seat into that night's $150 satellite into FTOPS #7 at 10pm ET. That right there is a good payout ratio, and it makes this a very winnable tournament for any good mtt satellite player. Then you play that $150 satellite into FTOPS #7, where in that you have basically a one in seven chance of getting in to the big FTOPS #7 tournament. I failed to qualify for this one the last time around, but I would really like to play in this 1k buyin event #7 in FTOPS VI if at all possible, so expect to see me in these super satellites during the coming weeks.

So that's it for now as far as the FTOPS mtt satellites that full tilt is running in the evenings, New York time. These will surely increase as FTOPS VI grows closer and closer, but for now the only mtt sats on the regular nightly schedule are for Events #1, 2, 3, 4 and 7, but be on the lookout for more satellites to the other events, including I'm sure a slew of Main Event sats which will be starting I assume within the next few days. In all, full tilt is really awesome about creating satellites into their largest multi-table tournaments, and in creating the "proper" structure and buyin levels for these satellites. So we all have ample opportunity to play our way in to these largest of all the semi-regular tournaments full tilt has to offer. And remember, bust a pro from any FTOPS tournament and you get your full tournament buyin back, just like that.

I guess no Riverchasers tonight, boo effing hoo. I'm not sure what I'll be playing on Thursday given my Tuesday blowout and Wednesday indifference, but I'm betting it will be something. Maybe some token frenzy action and even a donkarama like the 28k are in order? Maybe I'll see you then on the virtual felt.


Blogger KajaPoker said...

I tried that rebuy at ten to ten and got brutally beat by a grandpa donkey. You'll just have to read the details later. I am making it my mission to make it into an FTOPS event this time around!

11:19 PM  
Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

The only thought is that if you're NOT a good MTT player or a tournament player in general, SNG might not be a bad way to get into a $216 tourney. Basically, you just have to win the SNG and so I guess I'm saying that I feel that there might be more luck involved there which is what a person with lesser tournament skills should be looking for (more luck = better chance for less skilled players).

Now why would anyone want to play in a bigger tourney if they're tournament donks? I mean didn't a lot of bloggers comment before that they prefer tourneys cuz they are fun? So, taking down an SNG and hoping to get lucky a few times in the FTOPS tournament could lead to a decent cash for some people.

The only question is who is willing to admit that they are not as good? I truly believe that if you want to be a good player, you have to be honest with your assessment of yourself. I know that I'm not a good tournament player. But I could get lucky. I'm gonna try to brush up my tournament skills but until then, I'll try to find ways to get into some of the FTOPS tourneys.

Great post as usual.

11:33 PM  
Blogger B said...

I totally agree with you that multi-seat tournies are the way to go - there is too much randomness in heads-up play to bet an all or nothing type prize on it (as well as the playing time it took to get to heads-up!). But I would add that you can also just play regular cash payout tournies and string together a series of low-to-mid level cashes (or even nail one and essentially satellite into a bunch of tournies at one go!) and cover your tourney nut that way.

btw - (otherwise known as "real time". All other time zones are known as "fake time")

Fake time. I love it.

11:34 PM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

What time is 1st pitch in the NL Championship series in "real" time?

Or did NLCS get cancelled since all the teams play in "fake" time zones?

3:00 AM  
Blogger Geoffrey said...

1. You are such a donkey.
2. "Real Time" = CDT

3:33 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

Gotta try those rebuy satellites. I have usualy gone for freezeouts only, but maybe I'll expand my horizons.

Gotta agree with geoffrey - Central is the real deal, baby.

3:46 AM  

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