Bit bored and should be revising so figured I'd write a post with some basic tips for anyone wanting to play MTTs.
For background, I've been playing MTTs exclusively for about a year now. I've aimed at progressing through the stakes asap and I haven't got much volume at my current stakes so my stats are hard to work out but in the last year I've played ~10,000 MTTs including 180s with $10 average stake and a 25% ROI The Long Term
This kinda brings me into my first point. If you want to ever take MTTs seriously, you need to always be thinking about the long term. Swings in MTTs are huge - people always underestimate them. Downswings of 500 buyins and more are really common for anyone who plays big fields, even the best players. Those pretty graphs you see which seem like they go straight up actually have huge losing stretches which seem like forever when you are in them. For example, I'm a life time loser in Stars MTTs, simply because my average field size is huge and I've never hit a big score - these occasional binks are the things which will make your profits high but because of the irregularity in which you'll hit them your graph will go down down down, then boom all the way up. You just have to learn to live with it.
I've found two ways are by far the best to help with this. First, find smaller fields to mix in with the bigger ones. For low stakes players, $2.50 turbo 180s and $4 standard 180s are great. For mid stakes, try out some smaller sites like 888
and Party Poker
- my average field size on Party is just 100, and the tournaments are soft. It's a pity the software is rubbish compared to Stars but you just have to live with it
Second, try and think in terms of $ per game, and a session as not just the tournaments you play in a day but the tournaments you play in a month, or a quarter, or a year. Trying to work out how you are doing session by session is impossible, and you'll get depressed at how many more losing sessions you have than winning ones when your profit tends to come from occasional large winning sessions evened out but regular losing sessions. Working out $ per game isn't hard - calculate your $ per game, estimate a long term ROI for your schedule, and that's how much you earn each game you play. I think I can play a lot of tables at a $15 abi with 25% ROI - that's $3.75 or so a game. Then you just play as many games as you can, knowing that as long as you keep playing well you are earning that amount.
Be realistic with your long term ROI. People bounce off crazy numbers, especially if they win a tournament early and have a 100% ROI after the first couple of hundred games. The more turbos you play, the more reg filled 180s, the more satellites, the lower your ROI. On the other hand, your ROI will be its highest in well structured softer fields, which tend to be very large - it can take tens of thousands of games to even out, so don't worry if you start badly. Bankroll Management
As I've said, long term is crucial, and therefore so is BRM. I've been backed for the entire time I've played MTTs so it's never really crossed my mind, but basically the more huge field tournaments you play the bigger your bankroll should be. You should also be flexible - don't be afraid to take shots and also drop your higher buyin tournaments, depending on the current state of your bankroll. Try and make it so your lowest buyins are your biggest fields, and your highest buyins are your smallest fields. Shot taking in things like huge Sunday Million specials with terrible structures and ridiculous fields is just foolish, as you'll never get to the long term, even if you have a 100% ROI.
Numbers I've seen thrown about include 250 buyins, which seems OK for lower stakes, but even at 180 turbos you can have swings bigger than that. I'd advise 300 to 400 average buyins, making sure you are careful with your schedule.
Or, you could choose to get backed. While you have to give away half your profits, if you can find a good stable where you get coaching and attention, it's definitely a good choice. Especially if your online poker roll would constitute significant money to you - you never want to be playing with scared money. Multi tabling and HUDs
People complain about HUDs all the time, but they are crucial. Learn to read it, and try and understand what the numbers mean. Also appreciate the statistics - some converge pretty quickly towards meaningful figures, such as VPIP, PFR, and to a lesser extent steal. The first two should be your staple stats which you base other stuff around. For example, someone with a 50% 3bet over 50 hands who is playing 23/20 isn't crazy, they've just got a non-converged 3bet stat.
Identifying regs is crucial too. Mark them, and then when you see hands take notes. Note taking can be a chore, especially if you play multiple sites and there's tables popping up everywhere, but it's really worth doing. Even just noting someone as a fish or a reg is great - when a reg opens in late position off a 40bb stack into other 40bb stacks, their range and the way you play against them should be very different to an unknown or against a passive fish. Stack sizes
Stack sizes are the crucial difference between cash and MTTs. Even then, it varies between MTTs - deep in a hyperturbo, even a 5bb stack is a good stack because you have good fold equity when every one else is short.
Be careful about the stack sizes you open into, and the stack sizes that regs are opening into. A regulars opening range will be alter depending on the stack sizes left to act, and so should yours - tighter when there are reshoving stacks behind you and looser when stacks are deeper.
When playing against multi tablers, you can also manipulate what they see to your advantage. When you have a 3 or 4bb stack, raising rather than shoving all in can be really helpful - when they see they have 3 buttons to choose from rather than 2 it gives them the chance to fold hands they'd call if they knew they were closing the action. Table Count
I see a lot of posts on here about people playing 8 tables when just starting out and stuff like that. My advice is basically don't do it. I learnt to play both cash and MTTs by starting out at the lowest stakes playing 2 to 4 tables. Take detailed notes and think about every decision, and then when you have plenty of ideal time add in more tables.
Everyone has a different table cap where they stop increasing their hourly. That's another point - max out your hourly, not your ROI. Playing 20 tables at a 10% ROI is way more profitable than playing 5 tables at a 20% ROI, even if your stats aren't as great. Personally, I'm a high volume low edge sort of player - I play 20 to 25 tables across 3 sites but that's how I feel I play optimally. I sacrifice some ROI and I add in variance so I can't progress as quickly as players playing less tables, but if I play fewer tables I get bored and spew so for me it's the best decision.
Feel free to ask questions