Archive for February, 2015

The Most Common Tournament Mentality Mistake – Playing Not to Lose

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Tournaments are a strange beast; one that most beginner poker players get their start in.

While there are many mistakes that beginners make, the most common mistake (even for more experienced players) is playing not to lose.

Why Playing Not to Lose is a Sure-Fire Way to Lose

Let me make this very clear, playing “not to lose” is not the same as playing “to win”.

Playing not to lose is the strategy of pure survival, whether you have 10 big blinds or 100 in your stack. The real goal of this strategy is to make it into the money, so that you at least win something, and then try to survive as long as you can and advance up the pay ranks.

While you may make it to the prize money a decent amount of the time, you will likely limp in as one of the short stacks. Unless you get incredibly lucky, you won’t make it up the prize money much further.

It is very tough to become a winning tournament player if you are only winning the smallest cash prizes. Even if you make it into-the-money (ITM) 30 percent of the time, if you bow out soon after, those prizes won’t even cover your buy-ins.

The Fundamental Problem with This Approach

The biggest problem with this approach lies in how a tournament is structured. They are very top heavy, which means that almost all the prize money is paid out to the top few players.

With a playing not to lose strategy, it will take a miracle to ever make a big cash. But the big wins are what are necessary to become a profitable tournament poker player.

Winning is the Objective

So what’s the solution? It’s not playing not to lose, or playing to lose, but playing to win.

This means making the correct decision even if you have to risk your tournament life. This means not letting your stack dwindle, but making moves with a calculated risk to try and put yourself in a strong position.

This also means that when everyone else is terrified of being knocked out before the bubble, that you are smartly picking spots and bullying other players in order to put yourself in a position with a large stack.

Sometimes you might find yourself knocked out of the tournament early, but when you get into the money, you have a real chance of winning.

Ask any professional and they’ll say that they’d rather be knocked out on the first hand unless they were going to make a very deep run. The return on your time and buy-in just isn’t there unless you play to win.

Is Live Poker Dying for Good?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

12.

That is the number of live poker rooms that have been shut down in just over 2 years in the United States. The most recent victim is the room at the Linq Hotel & Casino.

Poker has been a mainstay of the modern casino since its inception, but it’s becoming a less important part over time. Are people losing interest in table games? Perhaps. But the problem likely runs deeper than that.

Poker Rooms Have Never Been Cash Cows

Poker rooms have never been incredibly profitable for casinos. Compared to slot machines or other traditional gambling activities, poker generates a pittance of revenue.

There’s really no way for the room to make a substantial profit considering that there are typically 30 hands or less dealt per hour at a live table. Add in the wages of the dealers (albeit small) and you aren’t left with much.

However, people used to go to casinos to play poker and stick around to play casino games. According to the extensive calculations by each of these 12 casinos, this added revenue isn’t worth the space that the poker room takes up.

What’s Killing Live Poker?

So if it’s not limited revenue that’s changed in recent years, what could it be?

The Commercialization of Poker

With the popularization of online poker came an increased interest in poker by the general public. TV shows were created (and heavily watched), and Americans signed up and played online at an incredible rate.

This didn’t hurt the casino industry for years, so the mere presence of online poker probably isn’t taking casino players away from the table. In fact, the two markets don’t overlap too much. Casino visitors are there to gamble, and they may or may not play back home.

Are People Burnt Out?

When something gets popular, it often gets overdone to the point that people’s interest simply burns out.

While there are a ton of televised tournaments and online training sites these days, online poker is still going strong. If anything suffered from player burnout, it would be online poker, not live.

The Remaining Possible Cause: The Economy

Digging below the surface reveals that the casino industry is in trouble. In 2014, casinos had revenues of just $2.7 billion. While that sounds like a lot, it’s only about half of revenues in 2006, which were $5.2 billion.

People still like to gamble, but the recession has hit everyone hard. It seems like a logical step to take that having less disposable income means that frivolous gambling and vacations would be the first expense to be cut out.

On the bright side, while it’s likely we haven’t seen the end of poker room closures, when the economy does finally rebound, it’s also likely that we will see many poker rooms spring back to life.