The Beat

The Beat

Monday, 15 July 2013

Neil Channing on game selection, Vegas and the WSOP.

Compare the Market

As much as I am a participant in the WSOP I am also a fan of the WSOP. I love the history of the event, I am proud that I was around in 1997 to see Stu Ungar win and that I’ve survived in poker through the Moneymaker era and on through Black Friday.

While I’m here I love reading everyone’s blogs, catching-up on what the players are doing on Twitter and following the events on Poker News, often while I am still in them.

With the WSOP lasting seven weeks, even a modest schedule of seven or eight events shared between The Rio, The Venetian and The Wynn/Caesars or The Aria, can easily add up to $10,000. If you’re throwing in a few bracelet events, it could easily reach double that.

Many players attempt to play a bigger schedule for less money by selling their action. They may use Facebook or Twitter to sell pieces and they’ll charge a “mark-up”. The buyer will get less than 10% of a $1,000 event for $100. Depending on how good the player is, he may get only 7% or 8% of any return.

The poker forums at Irish Poker Boards, Blonde Poker and 2+2 are other places to sell, and at this time of year any buyers that are out there have dozens of “packages” to choose from. These forums have all started having massive debates recently because the general consensus is that players are charging way too much.

Shock news! Hold the front page! Poker players over-value their own abilities.

To me, it’s a market. I have sold in the past and I have bought more than almost any person in the world. I’m sure there have been times when I’ve paid way too much. Each time it was my decision, though. Some of those “investments” were terrible and others looked very shrewd afterwards. I did them partly for fun, sometimes to help a friend, but mostly because I thought the deal would be mutually beneficial and would make me money.
I can’t really see the point of all the debate around what is fair and what isn’t. I personally like to let supply and demand solve this one and the market to decide.

The Beat 1

Beware of Vegas!

While people are constantly debating the fair value of different players in the WSOP events and talking about what is a fair rate for this guy or that to charge according to his ROI, they often forget about a lot of the important bits.

It is obviously possible to look at a player and assess his ROI by checking out Sharkcope, PTR or Pocket Fives to see how he does over thousands of games online. You could then translate that ROI into the events he wishes to play in Vegas and you’d know the “fair” price to pay.

At this point, most people think they’ve done the job but I believe you are still only about 5% there.

How about you factor in something for how organised and reliable the person is? I want to know that if “my” player wins he is coming straight to me with the money, not tripping over a dice table or roulette wheel on the way. I want to know that my guy is not going to suggest that Harrah’s wire the money straight to his UK sterling bank account. When I paid up for my share I didn’t hear anything about Barclays getting 3% of the win without risking any money. I want my guy to change the money easily into a currency that suits me without me losing out and I want paying promptly.

How about thinking about how experienced this player is in travelling to Vegas? Will he be daunted or overawed by the whole thing? Will the jetlag, the loneliness, the size of the fields or the whole “organising life while away from home” thing stop him from playing as well as he does when he just rolls out of bed and turns on the computer?

Is he likely to be lead astray by the temptations of Vegas? If you have a great player who is likely to get drunk every night and wake up late for his day two, losing half his stack, you can keep his action for yourself. I’d rather have a less talented but reliable guy who gives 100% every time he sits down.

Is he really prepared? Vegas is a mental and physical slog. It’s hard to live in hotels for seven weeks. I mean, it’s not as hard as digging roads, but it certainly makes it hard to have a normal life, eat normal food and sleep properly. If you throw in the temptations of gambling, booze and other entertainments, it can be tough for young players to bring their A-Game. The guy who is prepared is a much better bet for me.

The Beat 2

Game-Selection for Dummies

I have written a fair bit in the last year or so about bum-hunting and how it is ruining a lot of cash games both live and online. It amazes me how people are so careful about who they play against all year round, but then they come to Vegas and forget altogether about the skill of game-selection.

Some of the tournaments at the WSOP are just going to be way worse than others. It’s pretty easy to use your noddle to work out which events you should play if you are eking out a tight budget and trying to make money.

Take the “Millionaire-Maker”. A tournament for $1,500 with a guaranteed $1m first prize, with two day ones on a weekend right at the start of the Series just had to be a softer field than say the $1,500 ante-up, which would surely scare away many recreational players who have no idea what an ante-up is or what the correct strategy might be to succeed.

Generally, anything over $2,500 gets a way tougher field than the ones that are $2,000 and below. Nearer the Main Event things are softer because players get more desperate, many pros are on tilt and there are lots more recreationals in town.

Do you think the $3,000 Mix-Max, with its high buy-in, unusual format and the fact that it is early in the Series on the day of the seniors and not on a weekend (it’s a Friday) will be a soft tournament? Nope. It will be one of the top three worst value of the whole Series.

Despite all of that, I see players rushing to these events and often selling action on themselves at high mark-ups. They know all about how to get the right bet-size in when cold 4-betting and the calling range from the bb with fewer than 20bbs, but they have no idea of basic poker skills.

Last Monday there were no NLH bracelet events. I played the $365 Carnivale of Poker at The Rio. It had 270 players and very few decent pros. It also had a great structure and it is part of a series with $100k added to the tournament leader board. I didn’t see more than five UK pros in the event from around 500 who are here for the Series. Many of them were playing against other pros at The Venetian in an event just built for grinders at a casino that has shown in the past they have little respect for poker players.

I’m always reading how the game is getting harder yet I am amazed that these bright young people can’t seem to see what should be blindingly obvious. Maybe I should be glad that they don’t.

The Beat 3

Tags: Neil Channing, game selection