Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Final Checkpoint - 180 player SnGs

It has now been some three and a half months since I first started this blog and I have played some five hundred odd $2.50/180turbo/SnGs in that time on PokerStars. It has been another difficult fortnight to get a lot of tournaments in due to work and family commitments so I thought that it would be a good time to just take a final checkpoint on what's happened and try to derive any useful conclusions for those players who are new to the 180/SnGs and trying to grind a bankroll playing them.

I have decided to organize this post in the following sections:

1. Game selection and strategy
2. Bankroll management
3. Volume & ROI
4. Cashout system
5. Where to from here?

In each section I will relate back to many earlier posts and see if I still agree with earlier points of view. Before I get started in each section here is the overall profit/loss trend so far for this bankroll challenge:

1. Game selection and strategy
There is not much art to game selection since these formats have one event filling up at a time. The one thing to realise in these events that most of the opposition are not great with a few regulars thrown in so on the strategy side I have stuck to the basics and have made the following adjustments:
  • try to see a few more cheap flops early and hit a monster flop early
  • play push/fold once I am around 10-12 big blinds
  • stopped blindly taking every coin flip to try and 'win the tournament' (there are better spots taking into account the general level of the opposition)
  • stopped re-stealing light with a 20BB stack (most opponents at this level don't really think so you will get called by big stacks here more than you would expect)
  • Be patient enough to go down to 5BB in the very late bubble stages
  • My opinion is that there is no point in throwing away a 6-8BB stack at the bubble stage when close to the money and the action in front of you clearly indicates you are behind - at the $2.50 level others will do this work for you
  • Of course if there is no action in front of you learn your push/fold theory and take advantage of this tool in the middle to late stages of the event
I have found much better results playing solidly and navigating a small stack through the mire to get to the bubble stage as often as possible and then combine this with strong push-fold decisions to get me to the final table more often. Trying to blast away the field with the big stack and run over the top of everyone every time has got me to the final table far less often and even when I do get to the money stage with a big stack it can easily disappear quickly due to the fast endgame action and my loose aggressive table image.

2. Bankroll management
The results have reinforced my original research and consultation with Doke (i.e. Dara O'Kearney). For tournament fields with 180+ participants its clear to me that 200 buy-ins are needed to keep the chance of total ruin at a minimum. There was a point in the past where I was led to believe that 100 buy-ins was sufficient for this type of format. However in this particular challenge having suffered an initial 80 buy-in downswing and then after returning back into the black suffering another subsequent downswing of 120 buy-ins its clear that having 200 buy-ins has helped keep my sanity and composure. My current bankroll stands at $834 which some would say is enough to move up to the $8 - 180/SnGs but after my experience here I feel that this amount is a little light and risky.

3. Volume and ROI
Back in one of my earliest posts I talked about trying to play 60 tournaments a week and aiming for a modest ROI of 20%. Hypothetically this would have worked out over 14 weeks to 840 tournaments with a profit of $420. I fell quite short on my volume target with only 532 tournaments played at an ROI of ~23% for a profit of $300. Not a great return but considering a long period of time sustaining two major downswings things are not that bad when you can still achieve more than a 20% ROI and be in the black. In terms of figuring out a more accurate figure for my long term ROI most agree that I need at least 2000 SnGs in total to figure that out so I am still only one quarter of the way there on this challenge. It's important to note that since making a couple of crucial adjustments I have managed ROI returns of 154% and 90% for the last two months respectively running over 100 SnGs and this is the trend I would hope to continue.

4. Cashout system
Quite a while ago I when researching bankroll requirements I stumbled on to Jennifear's blog on PocketFives which is no longer active and covers the concept of a cashout out system (assuming that you are a winning player). The idea behind this cashout system is to reward yourself based on volume of games played and not by milestone profits. The idea is that with an initial deposit one can earn a steady and frequent cash flow (withdrawn for life spending) whilst being forced to adhere to moving up and down levels based on bankroll requirements. The other advantage is to try and protect the major part of your winnings and avoid a horror story of building a big bankroll online and then losing it all due to tilt.

I did not try this cashout system on my challenge since I am at the bottom end of the buy-in levels with no room to move down if things went catastrophic. I did however want to try and make some hypothetical on what may have happened in my case had I tried to apply this system. According to Jennifear for 180/SnGs you should withdraw 8% of a buy-in for each SnG played including rakeback/bonuses as soon as you hit the site's minimum withdraw requirements.

So looking at 8% of a $2.50 180 player SnG I would be paying myself 20 cents per SnG played. Let's look at the profit and loss trend above in sections as follows and note the overall profit/loss, cashout payment amount and hypothetical bankroll (HBR) amount left after cashing out (I started with a bankroll of $534 at the beginning):

Section 1: SnGs=001-111, Profit/Loss= -$200, Cashout=$22.2, HBR=$311.80
Section 2: SnGs=112-201, Profit/Loss= $97.90, Cashout=$18, HBR=$613.90
Section 3: SnGs=202-398, Profit/Loss= -$192.5, Cashout=$39.2, HBR=$302.30
Section 4: SnGs=399-480, Profit/Loss= -$46.9, Cashout=$16.2, HBR=$470.9
Section 5: SnGs=481-532, Profit/Loss= $300, Cashout=$51, HBR=$783

So we can see that even with my two major downswings I could still have sustained a cashout system over all without losing my entire bankroll. However my bankroll would have dropped after the 3rd section of SnGs to  ~$300 or about 120 buy-ins left for the $2.50. But this again really reinforces why you need 200 buy-ins especially if you want to employ a cashout system.

Where would I be if I had been cashing out regularly based on the above? Well right now I would have had about $106 back in my bank account as safe profit to spend on real life goodies whilst still having a sufficient $783 dollars in my online account to continue grinding out a profit at the $2.50 buy-in level.

There is also another aspect of cashout strategy that Jennifear covers called taking shots where the idea is that you can use 25% of a particular cashout to take a shot at a high level to allow for the feeling of 'chasing a dream' which can help give your bankroll a boost or just help you release some tension around having a controlled attempt at a higher buy-in level. For example in my case above if have satisfied the criteria to cashout $100 this month then I could cashout the 75% and use the remaining $25 to take multiple or a single shot at some higher buy-in levels.

Of course I am not being too serious about the amounts at stake here but you get the idea of what you could be earning at the higher buy in levels with higher profits. The thing to note here is that for such a system to be successful at any level you need to be able to beat that level for at least 8% ROI otherwise moving down levels will be essential and should make you find your way to the level you have aptitude for.

I like the idea of a cashout strategy for many reasons, the main one being you can't kid yourself on the margin you are beating a particular buy-in level for. This is something I would like to try later on at a higher buy-in level.

5. Where to from here?
For the most part I think I have covered this bankroll challenge with enough detail on the basics for new comers and fellow part time players. I will probably leave the detailed analysis behind for the time being and give the occasional update and hopefully still manage to move up to the higher stakes as part of my own personal exercise.

As for what else is ahead I will be making a return to live poker at the local Casino in Sydney and look forward to playing in the weekly tournaments and upcoming summer series there in a build up for the Aussie Millions in January 2012. This should make for some more interesting reading and a change of pace for this blog.

I look forward to covering new and interesting material for you guys in the months to come and as always I welcome any feedback that you can leave in the comments section below.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting that you specify “Bankroll Management” (Money Management) as one of the primary success factors.
    There was a study done of recruiting “off the street” share traders, who had little skill nor knowledge. To profitably trade shares, just by strict adherence Money Management principles.
    They were called the Turtle Traders.