Why Your Hourly Rate Matters
I have always said that my personal measuring stick for poker is dollars earned per hour. This is the way that I compare different games like MTTs, S&Gs, and Cash as well as different buy-in levels to see where I am most successful and can best maximize profit. Playing with this goal in mind and keeping records of your play can tell you a ton about your game. It can also tell you how you are running vs historical trends and makes it easier to see if tweaks to your game are helping or hurting.
Not everyone plays like this. The vast majority of players keep little to no records of their play and the ones that have systems like pokertracker tend to under utilize them or not understand the results. The big MTT score is glamorized by Hollywood and an abundance of TV shows on high stakes poker tournaments. I played in the WSOP, so I myself am not immune to such longings for a big score. The thing is that $/Hr is what really counts, not the value of an isolated big score. $/Hr is the only way you can possibly compare two poker players and end up with who is best. If 100 poker players worked 2000 hours a year for 20 years playing poker who had a more successful career. The player who netted 5 million or the player who had three million dollar+ MTT cashes and netted 2 million overall. The only way that you can really say you are better at poker than someone else is if you $/Hr rate is higher long term at whatever version of poker that you tend to play than theirs. Now stuff like table selection, choice of stakes and game matters, but this is part of the skill of being a good poker player. Who is better the 9th best player who is always seated with the 1-8th best players in the world, or the 10th best guy who is always against the 100,000- best players. 9th best loses money in his game of choice and 10th absolutely crushes his. 10th is actually a much better player, just ask uncle Sam.
So if you want to keep track of how your doing, you keep records that show how much money you won or lost, and how much time you spent doing it. Now Hoy actually thought that I should take my post down. The first ever such request. Let me tell you all that I am not breaking any new ground here. Read any poker book the deals with beginners. Now I know most of us our not really beginners, but too many of you skipped over this very important process that all good poker books for beginners cover. The concept of bankroll management, record keeping, and stakes selection. You are actually supposed to keep track of hours played and dollars won/lost in all of the books. I guess all the authors are wrong here. You are supposed to start at very low stakes, and learn how to beat the low levels. When your records show you are doing well, and your bankroll supports it, you move up to the next level. Not being able to beat low level MTTs is not a reason to take shots at the higher levels. I don't care if we are talking about cash games, Sit and Goes or MTTs, this is the advice that's given by all authors who are trying to help beginning players. And the measuring stick is always dollars/hour. Sometimes BigBets/Hr is used, but that is easily converted. This process is not supposed to end as you get better. There is always a higher level to strive to beat, but you play the majority of your time at a level that you can comfortably beat.
When I am talking about maximizing my dollars per hour when I play poker, I am in line with the vast majority of successful poker players. They think along these lines as well. Any real professional poker player thinks along these lines. If it was your job to play poker, can you honestly tell me you would not be maximizing you dollar/hour rate if you could? Many are interested in getting the "big score". That is fine, but don't fool yourself into thinking that you are trying to maximize your ability as a poker player. When abilities are compared $/Hr is the measuring stick. Remeber that Poker at its heart is a game about money management and limitied information. The measuring stick is money. And the rate at which you accumulate the money does matter.
So when I start questioning the value of satellites (there was a question mark in the post title) I am saying what I honestly believe. Yes, this is heavily biased towards my frame of thought towards poker, but I honestly think more of you guys should think along these lines. This is how the successful think. I started at very small stakes, and moved up level by level. I played S&Gs and did the same thing. I kept records the whole way, and knew when it was time to move up, or move back down and what forms of poker to focus on. I don't play enough right now to keep improving my game, but I am happy with where it is now as a result of this process. When I look at my hourly rates at Cash Games, S&Gs, MTTs, Token S&Gs, MTT sats, it is very easy to see that sats have the lowest hourly rates of them all. I am pretty sure that MTT sats have the lowest hourly rates for most of you guys as well. Though some losing players, can probably beat sats but not MTTs. The thing is that unless your highest hourly rate is in Satellites, and you are also fairly successful in MTTs, you would do better to play something that earns a higher hourly rate. This is pretty simple stuff. The only argument that I can really accept is somebody who can show (or at least has the data to know) that their highest hourly win rate of all forms of poker is in satellites. That would be a pretty good argument against what I am saying, but I am not expecting it. The other argument is that people don't care about hourly rates, and I see this as a problem for a serious poker player.
The other problem with satellites that I mentioned in my first post is Bankroll management. If you Bankroll is 5k it is not a good idea to be taking shots at 1k buy-in MTTs Satellite or not. You guys only remember the sat that you got a seat in. If you are taking 10 to 1 satellite shots at $100 a pop you are doing some serious damage to your roll, and you can't win any cash in a Sat. So even when you get your seat, you still need to cash or better in the MTT to restore your BR. You will also bleed your roll away, when you don't get a seat. These types of shots way above your current level are not recommended by many authors. There is also a fee for a sats of about 10% just like the MTTs charge. The 10% vig, makes it so only about 10% of players can beat MTTs longterm. This applies just as well to Sats. Only 10% of players beat these as well. I don't think I am out of line here, though I may be crushing a dream or two. You will also never know if you can really beat the higher level MTT from a single big score. You need to run the same MTT hundreds of times to see if you can really beat it. You will never find out by satelliting in, as you will never get the 100s of trials. You will find out if you ladder up to the higher levels by beating the lower ones over the long term though.
If your motivation is to improve your poker game relative to other players, then improve your $/Hr rate. If you motivation is to play poker for fun only, and look for an isolated big score or two, then take your shots and play Satellites. There is nothing really wrong with the play for fun approach, and you really should not take my posts seriously if that is your motivation. That is not my motivation for poker. My goal here is to get people to improve the measuring stick that matters if you want to go pro someday, or at least see how your game stacks up against the pros. I actually thought this was the goal of at least a subset of this community.
Below are a few examples for those who still don't get the point of my argument here.
1/2 NL Cash +$30/Hr
$20 S&Gs +$18/Hr
$10-26 MTTs +2/Hr
MTT Sats +3/Hr
This player should earn MTT buy-in by playing 1/2 NL Cash.
.25/.50 NL Cash -2/Hr
$5-$10 S&Gs Break Even
$10-26 MTTs +4/Hr
MTT Sats +2/Hr
This guy should buy-in direct to $10-26 MTTs, and use his winnings to try higher levels.
.25/.50 NL Cash -2/Hr
$5-$10 S&Gs -1/Hr
$10-26 MTTs -4/Hr
MTT Sats +2/Hr
This guy should be playing Sats, but will never really make any money by doing it. Needs to improve his Cash, S&G, or MTT games to be successful.
2/4 NL Cash +10/Hr
$20-$30 S&Gs +8/Hr
$26-$110 MTTs +12/Hr
MTT Sats +5/Hr
This guy should buy-in direct to MTTs.