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Importance Of Poker Payout Structure

The results of today’s top online multitable tournament players are pretty much equivalent to getting involved in a bunch of double up situations in which you have an edge of at least 60%. Taking well-timed, calculated risks is the name of the game.

Winner-take-all satellites fall into the same category as tournaments with top-heavy cash payouts. To succeed, you need to accumulate chips from the beginning. Play scared, and you’ll play without winning a seat. When it’s winner-take-all, you need to play to win.

As the percentage of poker players that win seats increases, your strategy will change. Suppose you’re in a 20-player tournament in which the top 5 players get the same exact prize…

Fifth = Fourth = Third = Second = First

In such a tournament, realize that it doesn’t matter whether you get fifth, fourth, third, second, or first. To win a 20-player tournament outright requires about 4.32 double-ups. To get to the heads-up match even with your foe requires about 3.32 double-ups. To get into the top 5 with the same number of chips as everyone else only requires 2 double-ups!!

Of course, you’ll be losing money to the blinds every round, so you’ll need to poke your head in here and there and play some quality small pot poker to stay afloat. And if you play some really good small pot poker hands, you can accumulate chips without even having to worry about risking your tournament life.

But if you’re stuck in a tournament where your opponents won’t allow you to play tons of smallball, realize that you only need to win two big confrontations, meaning that you can wait for a much bigger edge in those confrontations than you would wait for in a tournament with a top-heavy payout structure. It’s entirely reasonable to wait for opportunities in which you are close to a 70% favorite when the chips go in because you have more than enough time to wait for such opportunities.

The Flatter The Payout, The More You Can Wait

Between the typical top heavy and flat payout tournaments are tournaments with linear payouts. An example of a tournament with a linear payout structure would be something like a 30-player $30+$3 sit-n-go that pays $225 for first, $195 for second, $165 for third, $135 for fourth, $105 for fifth, and $75 for sixth. In these tournaments, you should be willing to risk your tournament life with something around a 65% edge. Survival is somewhat important in these tournaments, but it isn’t quite as valuable as survival in flat payout tournaments.

The moral of it all: if you play a tournament without considering the payout structure, you won’t be playing the tournament optimally.

Article Source: Tony Guerrera

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