Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

Play Less - Profit More - A View From The Felt

By Rich 'Drarr' Hunt

(Quick note from Mark: I'm very pleased to be welcoming back one of the original writers here at SNG Planet today in the form of Rich 'Drarr' Hunt. Enjoy this alternative perspective on whether the quest for volume, volume and more volume might not be in your best interest after all! I'm looking forward to regular input from Rich, who has been involved in the game as a player, coach and writer for many years!).

“How do I increase my volume?” “How do I play more tables?” “How long should I play for?”

Volume is something the SNG community seems obsessed with, and to be fair who can blame them. The reward schemes, such as Pokerstars VIP Club, offer healthy incentives for those who play a lot and can easily turn a breakeven player into a winner. For SNGs it seems a no brainer, the theory being that there are still a lot of weak players at the lower stakes and the more tables you add, the quicker you will cancel out negative variance and the bigger your profits will over the long-term.

Great! Let’s load up the games and print money!

Er… sorry to break this to you but it doesn’t quite work that easily.too many poker tables at once

Firstly, as you play, imagine your brain as series of compartments. Each compartment is an amount of concentration you can give to any given task. So say you have started your session got 6 tables up already, Skype is running, Facebook and 2+2 are open and and the TV on in the background, your compartments are slowly filling up but you are still relaxed and quite happy playing. Then 12 tables have opened, more compartments fill, you switch Skype onto “Busy” and start ignoring the TV and open web pages. 18 tables, more compartments are filled, you are hitting the middle game but realise you missing the odd HUD stat or read. 24 tables, the odd misclick comes in and certain spots you realise on review are being missed, your compartments are all pretty full now and you are on autopilot, just relying on tried and tested standard plays rather than other information.

This scenario is familiar to many, maybe the numbers of tables are more or less or you might have no distractions and full concentration at the start of the session. Eventually, however, you reach that autopilot stage where your brain has filled all its compartments and you no other option but to rely on what you have fully learnt and your experience solely to process all the information coming into it. Part of the cost of this is, as described in the $16hr Blueprint is a reduction of ROI which should be counterbalanced by an increased $/hr, but this is not the only cost.

If you only ever multi-tabling to your maximum ability, your brain has no other compartments to learn and develop your game. While a lot of this work can and should be done away from the table, nothing can replace experience of real play. You can see concepts you have looked at working, you can come up with new ideas or reads on particular regs, you can put the pieces together and allow yourself to grow as a player. Especially when you are new to the game you should give yourself chance to learn from experience, rather than rely on what you think you have already learnt as “standard” plays. This need not be a complete reduction in your games so you are constantly playing two tables, volume is still important but maybe pick a particular session or two each week to really focus on less tables, so say if you usually play 18 tables reduce it to 6 on Mondays for example.

So what will the end result be? Well you will see a slight dip in your $/hr, however the balance will work the other way and you will see an increase in your ROI. Also you may get better reads on opponents and find you are missing less spots. But most importantly rather than just blindly accepting set strategies, like a lot of multi-tabling breakeven regs, you will find yourself looking at all variables a lot closer and give yourself chance to learn from them. This is the key to developing as a player and rise profitably up through the stakes far quicker, giving you far greater profits and personal satisfaction than mass grinding micro-stake tables forever.


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