Manhat10ite and I decided it’d be a good idea to start writing some strategy articles. Not only do I think that I can provide a lot of useful information for beginning and advanced players, but I think it’ll be fun too to give the staker’s opinion and perspective on some subjects. Now, it might seem a bit one-sided, I think it’d still be valuable to give several solid reasons for why you should be staked. It doesn’t really matter if you play $2.50 180 man sngs or are a $35 180 man regular… either way, you are probably making mistakes and doing something wrong. Your game selection in MTTs could suck, or you’re lazy, or there are just some concepts you never thought of. Regardless, you can improve and you can learn.
In late 2013, I played some 18 man SNGs mostly because the rake is higher and the $15-$30 load quickly and run often during the day. I’ve taken a few months off from poker throughout 2013 and because of this, I had a bit of a rush at the end of the year to make Supernova. Playing $15 180s and loading the Big 8 just don’t produce many vpps, so making supernova would be tough. Obviously, I made a lot of bad ICM calls and probably had no clue about player’s ranges in many spots, but I know I can at least break even in them. Anyways, back to the point.
Having not recognized many of the regs in the 18s, I used a lot of sharkscope and what I found didn’t really surprise me. At $15/18s and $30/18s, I know there are going to be some players that are probably going to crush me who have played 18s for 5+ years. What I found was an absolute ton of regs who had put in tons of volume, but were still making a lot of mistakes. I know if you play a pure ICM game and you’re not the chip leader 5 handed or less, you are going to get killed. A lot of people probably know that. Making a few –ev calls isn’t going to make you a bad player. What makes you a bad professional poker player/grinder is having stats like 37,000 games played, 10 ABI and 7k profit. You would think that after that many games, you have probably learned a lot of things other people don’t know (especially fish) and that would enable you to crush the games… but often it doesn’t. Being able to 30 table doesn’t mean much if you are barely beating the games. This trend has been going on for such a long time and I of course have done it as well.
Some of the worst players we have backed have been people who have FPP grinded. We barely made anything off of them and they barely improved. Clearly, not really anyone is improving and benefitting from this deal. Our games aren’t that easy anymore. Sure, you can win at a decent rate, but you can’t 30 table and also win much. At a certain point, adding more tables is costing you money. For someone learning playing an 8abi , playing more than maybe 12 tables is probably a bad idea. Maybe you have played a lot of games lifetime, but if you haven’t thought much about your game or people’s ranges, it’s worthless.
So, you can take your 20 cents a game and mass table, or you can improve. Clearly, if you’re results are still that marginal after that many games, you’re doing something wrong. Maybe you don’t study. Maybe you think playing is better than studying, so you devote all your time to that. Maybe you think making 20 cents a game is better than giving up 50%+ of your profits to a backer, but that’s very short term thinking. Of course, you are giving up money by getting staked (if you are rolled), but if you want to make a living off of poker, getting staked is a great way to learn (especially when that staking comes with coaching). You give up equity in the short term to set yourself up for the future.
Sometimes, I’ll also see someone who has played like 60k games and are up $60k at $8abi. Obviously, $1/game for those games is decent, but when you haven’t moved up, changed games, or started mixing in MTTs, something is probably wrong. Maybe the player isn’t rolled to play higher because they have withdrawn a lot of money for expenses. If that’s the case, the player will have little chance of moving up and really crushing the game. That’s another bonus of getting staked, you get to improve your game and play higher and give yourself a legitimate shot at playing stakes where maybe you belong. We have had so many players start at 2.50/180s and now they are playing midstakes MTTs. They’ve been mutually beneficial deals and sure they have had to give up a lot of profit, but who knows what stakes they’d be playing if they were never staked in the first place. Also, some people just play better staked, without the hurt of losing their own money.
If I wasn’t playing poker, I’d be living in a house in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada with a girl I didn’t really want to end up with… just because I thought it was the right career and life path to follow. Every day, I would drive to work for at least an hour. I would wake up at 6am, get home at 7pm, have dinner, watch tv, or maybe play poker for 2 hours (for whatever games might load from 9-11pm), go to bed, then repeat for 4 days just to get the weekend off. Then on Monday, I would talk to my co-workers about how our weekends flew by and how we were so busy catching up on errands or how we got the privilege to see our friends and have a couple of drinks… for one night only. Sure, I’d be getting a stable paycheck and not have a losing year, or long break even stretches, but I’d be working for someone else, doing presumably repetitive work, just to wake up and do it all again.
I have to get back to a pretty easy question: what do you want to accomplish with poker? How are you going to get there? If you have statistics like my example, clearly you are doing something wrong. Solid regs are going to demolish you (and laugh about it HU). You are going to experience a lot of negative variance because your edge is small compared to how big it could be.
Without trying to make this sound like a huge advertisement and recruitment letter, I still need to stress how important it is to learn from people who are better than you, from people who have been in your place before. Manhat10ite and I got pretty lucky because when we started out, we put in a reasonable amount of time studying, we could play a ton of tables and just print money. But that’s not the case anymore. When I see applications for staking and the player says they can 30 table, that doesn’t really impress us at all. In fact, we dislike it. Of course, I want players to be able to play more than 9 tables, because otherwise you just can’t get solid volume in. But you have to understand there’s a middle ground where you can still play very profitably, understand people’s ranges and have solid game play overall. It always surprises me when I see midstake MTT players hand histories and see blatant errors in their hhs like not overlimping 55 in level 1. I’m not trying to say I don’t make mistakes, because clearly I do. I know I make a lot of bad plays (and –ev shoves, often very intentionally), but regardless, everyone can learn and everyone can improve. If you’re not willing to put in the time, you don’t have much of a place as a professional poker player. It’s a gross lifestyle, especially if you are playing mtts for a living, but when you look at the alternative, it’s not really even a choice.
We coach, we stake, we improve players, we have around 2,000 videos, we tell you about game selection, we are a community. If you’re serious about playing poker and improving, join us. But if you think you can 30 table and keep up with the ever improving gameplay, good luck keeping your 20 cent per game win rate.