Thoughts on small stakes online multi table poker tournaments (MTTs)

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Mark | Poker Articles, Poker Tournament

I have on average played around 5 small stakes (buyin of 20$ or less) online poker MTTs a week this year. That works out to 120 tournaments in total so far. Out of these 120 tournaments I have made the final table in two of them with a second place finish in a 10000$ guaranteed as my best result. Usually I have busted out during the middle or late stages meaning that on average each tournament represents 3 hours of playing time.  I just realize now that this means I have spent 300-400 hours this year playing poker with an average income of 4-5$ pr hour when taken my total winnings into account.

My plan for this article series is to gain some insight into my motivation for playing small stakes tournament poker in order to justify the many hours I have spent (wasted?) on this particular interest of mine. In addition I want to attempt to come up with an alternative approach, or strategy if you will, for playing small stakes MTTs. Although 1 good results out of 120 tournaments is more or less in line with what I would expect from my previous article on the probabilty of winning a poker tournament, I can’t shake the feeling that my usual strategy is not optimal and that there is a better approach out there waiting to be applied.

I just thought of a good business world analogy to my poker strategy considerations. In 2005 W. Chan Kim and Reneé Mauborgne from the INSEAD business school published a business strategy book titled “Blue Ocean Strategy – How to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant”. Basically they define the market universe through two metaphors, red and blue ocean. I have copy pasted the definitions of red and blue ocean from Wikipedia below:

Red Ocean

Red Oceans are all the industries in existence today—the known market space. In the red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known. Here companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of product or service demand. As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced. Products become commodities or niche, and cutthroat competition turns the ocean bloody. Hence, the term red oceans

Blue Ocean

Blue oceans, in contrast, denote all the industries not in existence today—the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid. In blue oceans, competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are waiting to be set. Blue ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored.

The definition of the red ocean market universe was a real eye opener for me because it fits perfectly with an average online poker tournament environment. It also made me realize that my current poker strategy has been confined to the red ocean universe. What I really should be doing is thinking out of the box and come up with a blue ocean poker strategy for beating small stakes online MTTs.

In my next articles I will try to build on this idea and also probe whether analyzing my own motivation for playing poker can result in new insights.

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