Getting The Best Profits From Online Tournaments?
Make Sure You Manage That Tournament Bankroll And Understand You ROI
The large fields, and payout structures which are heavily weighted to the final table, make MTT play subject to big swings of fortune. A winning player with a healthy return on investment (ROI) could easily go for dozens of games without winning a significant cash prize.
For this reason good bankroll management is a critical success factor in Multi-Table Online Poker Tournament Strategy. This article will introduce some of the important factors in good MTT bankroll management.
The number of buy-ins required to profitably play poker pournaments is primarily affected my 2 factors. Firstly the ability to replenish your bankroll (for example a poker pro may rely on their bankroll while a recreational player who does not play poker for their primary income may be able to replace this more easily). Secondly the nature of your play and the amount of variance each style can expect will affect your bankroll requirements.
Poker Tournament Bankroll Management Factors - #1 - Pro or Recreational Player?
The consensus for online poker professionals who play MTTs is that you need a bankroll of 100 buy-ins for the level at which you play. To the player new to Multi Table Tournaments this can seem high. Looking at the nature of variance in the game can show why this is the case…
Say you are a very successful MTT player and enjoy a Return on Investment of 100% - that over time you expect to double the money you spend on entry fees. Now we look at a typical payout structure for a large multi player online poker tournament. 15% for 1st Place, 8% for second and 4% for 3rd going right down to 0.02% for 100th place. You will see that the payout is extremely skewed to the top few places.
Even if you have a skill advantage over the rest of the players there are so many chance factors that can prevent you getting to the final table. Even if you manage to get your chips in as a 70% favorite on 3 key hands throughout the tournament you would only have a 30% chance of still being ‘alive’ in the game – add an early coin-flip to this and we are already down to 15%... Now imagine how many key hands will take place in a large tournament where the final table players have seen 800+ hands each…
The key point here is that while on average a skilled player will make more final tables the real number of times this will happen in relatively small, thus a big bankroll is required to ride out the runs of games with no final tables.
Poker Tournament Bankroll Management Factors - #2 - Your Playing Style
Are you playing to win or playing to cash? Most people instinctively answer that they are playing to win – but is this true??
Think of the bubble – you have medium strength hand and the big stack pushes all in ahead of you. This might be a great chance to call with that pair of 9’s and double up as 58% favorite against his range, but folding will secure another 3 buy-ins for your bankroll… be honest with yourself – which do you usually choose??
If you genuinely play to win then fine – you will probably make more money over time. You will also experience greater variance and thus will need a bigger bankroll than an opponent who plays a more conservative style.
For the many players who choose to secure the money before gambling the opposite is true. Your bankroll requirement will be smaller in terms of buy-ins but your ROI expectations over a large sample will probably be lower.
To summarize the bankroll management section then serious or pro multi table tournament players should have at least 100 buy-ins for their chosen level. Recreational players and those who play with ‘cashing first’ in mind need less – the 40 to 60 buy-in range should suffice.
Planet Mark's Tip: I recommend having a 'bankroll builder', a smaller tournament which you can reply on to add a few buy-ins to your bankroll when the variance of the larger tournaments starts to bite. A great game for this is the 180 Player SNGs at Pokerstars... My 3-part guide here at SNG Planet explains more!
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Poker Tournament Bankroll Management - ROI in Multi-Table Online Poker Tournaments
As already outlined there is huge variance in MTT play – the questions here are what ROI can you expect as a good player and what sample size would you need to be sure that your results are ‘real’. The following chart shows a summary of the current consensus of online MTT pros.
150%+ ROI – Fantastic! But not sustainable over an extended period of time.
100%+ ROI – Benchmark figure for the very best MTT Players
70%+ ROI – Very Good results for winning MTT Players
40%+ ROI – Reasonable Results
Less than 30% ROI – Room for Improvement but at least positive!
So what about sample size? Since the swings in Multi-Table Online Tournaments are larger than almost any other form of poker we need to ensure that the sample size is sufficiently large to make our results a true reflection of ability. The answer of course is very high! 1000 games will give you a reasonable idea – ideally this number should be several thousand.
Poker Tournament Bankroll Management - Use Overlays And Bonuses To Boost Your Bankroll
Achieving you ROI goal can be significantly affected by external factors such as bonuses, promotions and tournament overlays.
Overlays happen when a tournament has a guaranteed prize pool which is higher than the number of buy-ins. This effectively means that the poker site is providing additional cash for the entrants to win. Some poker sites have more guaranteed / overlay tournaments than others. The smaller poker rooms often use guaranteed prize pools to attract players, again we refer you to our Best Poker Tournament Sites section for further information on this.
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