A Good Cash Players Guide To Qualifying For The WSOP
I will be playing in the $2,000 buy-in NL holdem event on July 1st at the WSOP. This is an undisputed fact. The question is what is the best way to qualify. Last year PokerStars offered direct buy-ins to all of the WSOP events through their website. This is how I want to do it. I don't want to go wait in some line to sign-up and find out that it is full or something. I also want the free swag that PokerStars will obviously give you to represent with. Now on PokerStars you can use $W or actual dollars to buy-in to WSOP events. My plan was to generate as much $W as possible and then supplement any shortfall with real dollars. The problem I have is what is the best and most profitable way to obtain $Ws. Unfortunately, all of the low buy-in WSOP satellites on PokerStars are turbos. I don't really like turbo's as they take a lot of the skill element away, and it usually gets to an all-in crapshoot at the end as the bubble approaches. I do like the flat payout that comes with the satellites. I could play a lot of the 2+R turbos and earn 33 $W a pop, but they start at bad times for me. The most appealing satellite I think for me is the 25+R (non-turbo) to the $650 buy-in. If I can win three of those, my seat is practically paid for. Here is the problem.
I have mainly played cash games lately for a variety of reasons. First, you can play whenever you want, and for as long as you want. I don't have to adjust my schedule for a tournament start time, and then be committed to a tournament for an undetermined amount of time. I like to play for 1-2 hours at a time. 4-tabling is very tiring on the brain, and I seem to do best when I keep the sessions relatively short. After a short break, I'm back at it, but you don't get long breaks in online tournaments. Another reason, is you don't have to constantly make the adjustments a tournament requires. Am I short stacked or large stacked? Are the blinds getting huge? Am I near the bubble? Should I push All-In with ducks here because I am getting low and this is the best I have seen in a while. While I know how to make these adjustments, it is more difficult then sitting at a cash game where none of this really comes into play. The last reason is that cash games are simply more profitable for me. I do pretty good in the $20-30 18 player S&Gs, but MTTs just don't pay as much per hour of play. The problem is the payout is so top heavy, you need to make a lot of final tables. So for example in a 300 player MTT you need a top 9 finish for a decent payout. If you were an "average" player, and against all "average" players, this would happen like 1 / 33 times. So lets say your better than average and you could final table 1/16 times. That's a lot of time spent in 16 tournaments for your big payout. You just can't make as much at it as you can in cash games playing these tournaments. That is unless you play the higher stakes. Say $100+ buy-in tourneys. Ok, there you could make more, but now forget about playing the average player. So unless you are real good, you won't make more there anyway. And if you are that good, why not move up to higher stakes cash games.
Now lets look at the $25+R qualifier. Lets assume that I go in for 1 buy-in+1 rebuy, and 1 add-on on average. I'm investing $77 per try. Lets also assume that 4 buy-ins is average for everyone else. So 1 seat per 6.5 entries, and about 4 hours to the money. Lets say I can win 1 /5 trys (im better than average, plus I'm buying in for less than average). Lets also assume that it's 3 hours per try. It's a rebuy so I'm going 2 hours at least and 4 hours to win. So I play for 15 hours, buy in for $77x5=$385, and win $650. A profit of $265 in 15 hours of work or $17.50/hour. Well currently I am making $70-80/hr in the cash games. Assuming that this is higher than it should be (my sample size is still low at $1/2), and my real rate is closer to $60/hr, this is not my most profitable way to get in. Ok, I do 4-table the cash games, so this is a little misleading. But, you can't 4 table the $25+R because there is only like 1 per day. Also, tourneys require more focus due to the changing conditions so you probably would not want to 4-table them (mabee 2 or 3 at a time though). The return for the lower buy-in satellites (2,3,5)would be much lower.
So what is the conclusion here? If you are a solid cash game player who can generate a good cash flow, don't waste your time satalitting in. Just use your winnings to buy-in. It is a more profitable play believe it or not. Having said all this, I will still probably play a few of the 25+R satellites. Mostly to keep my tournament skills going. I will take some lower +EV to get some practice and stay sharp. Comments?