Time for a change

Time for a change

Monday, 23 December 2013

Andre Coimbra on turning $100 into $100,000.

In January I started a challenge that consisted of turning $100 into $100,000, playing online multi-table tournaments (with all proceeds going to charity). I didn’t really know how to play big tournaments, so part of the challenge was to learn how to beat the games. I started with micro-stakes tourneys and moved up to low stakes. Just playing strong hands well and not bluffing too much was enough to beat those stakes. I could play at any time of the day and as long as I made sure I had in the range of 100-200 buy-ins in my bankroll, I could make safe and steady progress.

Eventually, I had the bankroll to play some mid-stakes tournaments, and at first things went really well. I had some good cashes in $20 to $30 tournaments and then I won a $1 rebuy tournament for $14k. I then added $55-$100 tournaments and found myself stuck between $17k and $20k for some months. I started playing a bit lower and things didn’t get any better, so it got really frustrating.

I would often reach the last two to three tables of big tournaments and then end up on the wrong side of a coin-flip, become card-dead with high blinds, or run into a big cooler. After that went on for a while I lost some of my final-table skills. I didn’t have the confidence to make any moves and I started playing super-tight, essentially just trying to flop big hands. But that just made things worse – it’s pretty hard to win tournaments playing like a brainless nit! People just figure out that you always have it and don’t give you any action.

Time out

I took some time off and thought that I had to try something different because what I was doing was just not working. Instead of playing during the afternoons, I started waking up really early (6am-7am) to play smaller-field tournaments. Instead of playing a lot of 1,000-2,000 player fields, I started playing 100-200 player fields. I found that by the time I reached the later stages of those tournaments, they tended to be a lot softer than the afternoon ones. Suddenly I was making final tables, getting experience and building my confidence.

The bigger the tournament field, the harder it is for casual players to make it deep. In the afternoon big-field tournaments, by the time you get to the last two or three tables, most of the casual players have been eaten by the sharks already. So you end up playing for most of the money in a very tough final two to three tables.

In my specific case, I don’t want to become the best tournament player in the world; I just want to improve a bit every day and complete my $100k challenge, so it doesn’t make any sense to be playing tough fields when I can play soft fields with less variance and more juicy spots.

Bankroll boost

It does suck to wake up at 6am every day, but by playing softer games I can build my bankroll, boost my confidence and learn in a better environment. I’ve been getting a lot of good scores and doubled my bankroll in two months, getting it all the way up to $38.8k.

I once read that the biggest decision a poker player makes is to sit or not sit at a specific poker table. It’s as true for tournaments as it is for cash games, and while you can’t choose to leave a tournament after you start, you can choose what tournaments you play. Trust me – that could be the decision that will have the biggest impact on your state of mind and your bankroll!

So, if you are struggling with your poker game, maybe try playing at a different time of day. See if the games are softer. You’ll see that everything is better when you play softer games.

André Coimbra is a member of Team PokerStars Online and you can follow him at acoimbra.com.

Tags: Andre Coimbra, strategy