Thursday, January 03, 2008

Can A Tight Player Profit From Knockout MTTs?

Everybody knows I am about as tight as they come. Its one of the reasons for my success at the poker tables. When I play MTTs I make no effort at all to knock other players out. It is not even a consideration. If I think I have the best of it, or I feel I am priced in somebody might get knocked out, but I am not making that play to specifically knock someone out. I could care less about that stuff. I would not mind at all if I never knocked anyone out of an MTT, but ended up heads-up at the final table with a chance to knock out the chip leader for the title. The only exception I take is if there is an exceptional player on my immediate left, that I feel due to their skill level and positional advantages over me will make the going very tough. In that case, I may gambool it up a bit early, to try to get them out of my way and give me a fighting chance. That's it. This happened recently at a 6-max MATH event were I was at a very tough starting table, and had Lucko21 on my immediate left. I decided I would need to play a big pot with him sooner rather than later, and went ahead and donked out of the MTT early.

So on the surface you would have to think that knockout MTTs would be a very poor value for me, and my playing style. They seem to be increasing in popularity on FullTilt, and I have to admit I am a bit interested in them. So I thought about it a bit, and you know what? I think they could be highly profitable even for a tightly like me. WTF am I talking about here? Lets me explain.

The most profitable situations in poker are found when you play against the grain of the table. You play tight when the table is loose. You play loose when the table is tight. That is how you make extra money when all other things are equal. Now a knockout MTT has got to be much looser than a regular MTT. First off, it inherently appeals to the looser players, who are always knocking people out or getting knocked out themselves. They must think knockout MTTs are the best thing since sliced bread. So you got a high proportion of looser players signing up for these things. On top of that, they are incentivized to play even looser, and try extra hard to knock people out. You would be surprised what a bounty can do for some people. They can go freekin nuts trying to get it. So you got a bunch of loose players trying extra hard to knockout other players. Seems like a dream come true for me. What could be better? Most MTTs have a mix of tight and loose. Knockouts are probably all loose with a sprinkling of tight players here and there.

So whats the negative? Well you need to shell out 15-20% of your entry to cover your own bounty. Sounds pretty bad at first, but you only need to knockout a single player to get that back. On average in an MTT each player knocks out one player. The average player gets this bounty back. Sure many players will knock out many others, and many will knockout none. My point is that one knockout is all it takes to break even. So should the tighter player average one knockout in these things? I think they can, based on the concept of Gaussian distributions.

Gaussian distributions occur in nature and in MTTs. Anything where randomness around a mean is involved. In an MTT everyone starts with the same number of chips, but after a while the distribution of chip stacks always follows a Gaussian pattern. All this means is that most of the values are located near the mean or average value, and the farther you move away from the mean the fewer results you will find. In other words if you look at the distribution of chip stacks, most are near the "average" chip stack, and few are near the chip leader or the shortest stack. Loose players, have more randomness in there play, and are more likely to be found away from the mean near the chip lead, or near the bottom of the pack. Tight players who "roll the dice" less often tend to stay more near the middle of the pack.

Where the hell am I going with this, and will it be worth this refresher course in statistics? This is where I am going. A tight player is less likely to get a knockout early before the Gaussian distribution forms, but will have some great opportunities to get some in the middle stages. You obviously must have more chips than your opponent to knock somebody out, and short stacks are the easiest to knockout because they tend to be desperate. In the middle stages of a knockout MTT, the tight player most likely will be in the middle of the pack, but will have more chips than 1/2 of the loose players. Most of the shorties will be loose players who did not have things go there way early, and are looking to chip-up. The tight player has this opportunity to get some knockouts at and recoup their bounty. The loose players who are already eliminated do not get this opportunity.

As a result of all this, I think Knockout MTTs can be highly profitable for me, even if I make no adjustments to my standard MTT strategy at all. There is no way I will ever get the most knockouts in one of these things, but I should easially be able to average at least one, and recoup my bounty. Eliminating the one negative I can see, I am now playing in a MTT with a bunch of loose players who are incentivized to play even looser than normal. That's about as profitable as it gets for me in an MTT I would think. Plus these guys are going to be actually trying to knock me out, which is even better. Jamming for value has got to be a great play in these things, as you know they will not be able to resist calling for the knockout potential. So I will just sit back and play my normal tight as can be style, grab a knockout or two in the middle stages, and then start jamming for value late. Easy money!

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At 3:55 PM, Blogger Chad C said...

I think tight players have edge in KO's. People play so loose and crazy in them just trying to get $4 or whatever, it's retarded! You can pick those people off IF you get cards. Most KO's I have been in play like 5X worse than $10 bloggaments!

At 9:11 PM, Blogger Mike Maloney said...

Nice post. You've convinced me. I shall give your theory a try, see how it works out.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger lj said...

i agree w/ you. people go so nuts chasing the small bounties that they forget about the cash at the end of the tournament, which is way more valuable. bounties are just the icing on the cake, that often cover your buy in while you play your regular mtt game. i've played tournaments where i've almost doubled my buy in in kos, and ones where i cashed with one or no kos.


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