Most of my volume this year has been 180 mans on Stars and low-mid stakes mtts. I’ve been playing 180s on and off for about 5 years and I’ve seen the level of play and regulars change a lot. I remember 5 years ago some of my ranges and it’s funny to think just how insanely wide and profitable I could shove from late position. ATC for 15bb on the BTN was a very standard play for me, even into 2 regulars and I was convinced that was good because you just never got called by Ax. Now, when I am shoving 10bb on the BTN, I expect k7o to snap me in the BB, and he’ll probably be correct.
A few weeks ago, I wanted to see just how tough and how good the general field in a 15 180 was. I have played so many 35 180s where the total profit of the final table was probably 2 million. That’s pretty silly for a $35 tournament online. But surely, the $15s wouldn’t be that hard. Out of 180 people, I had about 60 people up somewhere between $0 to $15k. About 60 were losing players or had below a 60 rating (basically a losing player on Sharkscope). About 10 people had over 100k profit. The field wasn’t quite as tough as I expected, but what surprised me was just how few fish there were. Sure, there were a lot of marginal players, but it’s not like they were giving their money away. They have some idea about ranges, they don’t completely blind themselves out and they don’t stack off super light in early levels. Clearly, it’d be great if these marginal players/regs weren’t as good as they are, but what we probably forget is that they also drive the games as well. They are largely the reason why the games load as fast as they do. I’d rather be loading a $15 with a bunch of marginal regs every 5 minutes, then loading a $15 with fewer marginal regs every 15 minutes.
Often, I’ll hear that there are just too many regs in the game and that’s why everyone’s win rates are dropping. While that may be true, just because you see someone in a lot of your games consistently and you identify them as a reg, that doesn’t mean they are a solid player. They just have a general idea of what to do, they aren’t a total whale, and a 180 for example is just their favourite/preferred game. Maybe they have figured out how to play 16 tables, but they haven’t really found out how to win. It surprises me to look up a player who I’ve played a few hundred hands with just to see they’ve played 40k games total. Then I get shorthanded against them and see just how many leaks they have and maybe this wouldn’t be so clear if I was mass tabling like them. There are so many decent players I play against everyday and I recognize the screenname, I might know their total profit, but have no idea what their ranges are in spots. So I end up using generic ranges against them and surely make some awful isos or calls with hands that probably aren’t even in their range.
This is definitely a mistake I see in a lot of our student’s HHs. They think just because this guy plays volume, he is shoving super wide in such a spot. If the player is solid, it’s not a bad assumption, but it’s basically just a big guess. What helps me out so much is having specific notes on ranges, otherwise, I might pass up on a spot that is clearly a +ev call. If you’re playing a ton of tables, you’re probably going to miss out on stuff (like what hands go to showdown). I definitely think the 180s are getting tough and have been for a long time, but the best thing about them is they are just great games for players to learn if they want to eventually transition to MTTs and build a roll. You deal with deeper stacks, you get a lot of FT experience, you play against some very solid players (who are probably going to crush you) and you learn how to deal with variance.
For the last few weeks, I loaded more 45s and 18s, mostly to get supernova and make more VPPs. It really sucks that the 45 mans pretty much died, because they used to be my favourite game… especially the 75/45s on FTP. Now, on a lot of days, I was lucky if I got 3 $30/45s to load. Still, the $15s went off often, were generally very soft and nothing is more fun that abusing the bubble and actually getting folds (and seeing people fold 88 face up 8 handed). The same kind of thing applies for 18s. You can run over a table and it feels so awesome. I got 4 handed in one yesterday and had about 90% of the chips in play. I got HU with a 26550-450 chip lead. What I’m trying to get at I guess is just how fun it can be to mix other games. I really like playing 180s and MTTs, building chips, getting stacks, but everyday having pretty poor results gets demoralizing. Mixing up games, playing different payout structures and seeing different situations keeps your mind more active and gives you a new set of problems. It’s not that the 180s and MTTs were getting boring, but every so often, it’s fun to change your routine, try something new and maybe you’ll see that you’re better suited for another game. Even if you’re not, it’s still great to have other options for games you can play.
Whenever Golden Sng week comes along, the 180s, especially higher stakes ones become harder than ever, so why put yourself in a game with 80% solid 180/mtt regs (like the 35 or 60 180s), when you can play another game format that might be softer. I probably played 500 games this week and got 1 golden SNG, and that was a money back one. They just don’t come that often, but everyone thinks if the $60/180 goes off just once, you’ll be rich. But for the other 99.5% of the time, you’re just going to be sitting with 7 other great players, half of which will probably crush you.
Until something drastic happens, like the US gets poker back, our SNG MTTs will probably keep getting harder. I know staking groups are to blame as well and I’m not complaining, it’s just what’s going to happen. But if you want to keep playing and winning in them, your game has to evolve. You have to try new things, see what works and see what doesn’t. If you’re playing robotic and are afraid to make some bad bluffs or non-standard moves, I don’t think you’ll have much of a chance. I know I definitely have blasted my chips off on some 3 barrels where I was just convinced the opponent could never have it (or call me down). But at least I don’t still shove ATC for 15bb on the button anymore.