Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Why I Don't Play Tournaments Anymore

I have been promising a post on tourneys versus cash games for a long time. Why I haven't followed up with my promise is because I knew that it would be a tremendous undertaking.

I wouldn't feel comfortable just stating that I don't play tourneys anymore. I'd have to go into reasons. I'd have to go back to the beginning. Eventually I'd be into 10,000 words, minimum. It would be a rambling mess (not much different from most of my posts, I know, but a heck of a lot of work that I didn't want to do).

Anyway, I think I may have found a way to state the changes in my poker journey without putting too much effort into it. It actually started as a completely different subject matter on 2+2. Someone asked why Ted Forrest made such a huge mistake in his AA hand against Daniel Negreanu. Here was my original reply, and then I'll explain the transition of how/why it developed into a discussion of tourneys vs. cash games:

"My opinion, which is just a guess, is that Ted was nervous. I know Ted, and he doesn't like to be on TV, doesn't like a lot of attention focused on him. He told me that he is getting more used to it, but there are some players who just don't seem to do as well on TV as when they are being themselves, sitting around the cardroom and relaxing.

I know that Erik Seidel has also talked about how he hates the cameras and ends up making huge mistakes when he is being scrutinized closely.

I try to avoid events that are going to be shown on TV (not that I'm likely to make a final table soon in these fields, anyway), because I don't want to be filmed. I remember getting closer and closer to the final table in the 2004 WSOP Stud event. I kept having Glenn count the players who were left. I couldn't help thinking over and over again, "God, I hope I bust out, in the money, but before the final table!"

In our Razz event, we had so many WCP that ESPN kept coming over to film us. I guess they got it into their heads that hardly any women entered this event, so they should film ME at the table with Howard Lederer and all of the other superstars. Oy! I kept my head glued to the table, never looking up, and finally they gave up and moved on. I'm sure I would have misplayed any hand I'd had with them filming. I don't remember if I had a playable hand during those five minutes or not, but if I did, I'm sure I just mucked it anyway.

It's easy to sit on this side of the fence and point fingers at people. Dissect their play on TV, discuss their errors, clothing choices and what they say in front of the camera. What isn't shown, however, is that many of these players have been playing 14-18 hour days, for weeks on end, when they finally get to that TV table. What isn't shown is all of the hands which led up to their "huge error."

So much is left out that we never really know the whole story. What seems to us like a monumental error could be due to something we haven't seen that occurred prior to that hand, or it could be just old fashioned nerves.

Ted is a fantastic guy and a world class player, but everyone gets nervous, at times, and the way Daniel described this hand, the first thing that went through my mind was, 'Ted was nervous, obviously!'"

This prompted a few responses, one of them being about me, assuming I had some kind of fear or phobia of being on TV. Here was my response to that post, and how this became a discussion about cash games versus tournaments:

"Actually, it's not really a phobia, per se. A phobia is an illogical fear. I'm not fearful of cameras, I just have no desire to be on TV. None whatsoever.

I despise that certain people can be made into "stars" for doing various things, just because they happen to be shown on television. Reality TV, Hollywood gossip, whatever. Those are just normal people, but somehow the public has turned them into larger than life celebrities who can do no wrong. Then the public turns on them, through some media scheme or through their own "human" stupidity, and then they are shunned and blacklisted. The whole things just seems so dumb to me. And I don't want any part of it.

As far as getting past it, I have pretty much done that, although in a different way than you probably perceived, lol.

I went back to cash games. No, it had nothing to do with TV. It had to do with tournaments versus cash games. The ever-monstrous juice, the horrendous turbo structures, the huge fields. I could never hope to overcome that, with my style of play. I am too tight and don't take enough chances. I try to play tourneys like cash games, and that is a losing proposition.

Ironically enough, it took talking to those very top players that you mentioned in order to realize it. I had to hear from people like Barry, Ted and Asher to finally believe that I was truly dead money. Most of the time, if I can just hear things straight up, completely candidly, I can accept them and move on. If I try to sugar coat my lack of skill, I won't accept reality and keep fooling myself.

The plain truth is that I have not had a winning year since I started playing tourneys. I have had to supplement my tournament losses by playing cash games to only hope to stay even, or close to it.

I never had a losing year until I started playing tourneys. I am just now coming out from the red and back into the black for 2005. I lost a ton at Commerce earlier this year, almost all of it from those stupid tournaments.

Tournament play isn't for me. The only successes I've had in that arena have been from events that had structures so long, with such huge chip counts that it played more like a cash game.

So I don't believe I'll have the occasion to try to avoid the cameras in the future."

Here is the complete thread, for those interested:


So there ya go. Sure, I could go into a ton of detail and pound out another 10,000 word post, but I believe this will suffice. My tournament days are over, barring freerolls into big events.

Felicia :)