NLHE Tourneys are all luck so don't sweat them...
"If it wasnít for luck Iíd win every one". I use to feel the same way Phil. Not anymore. The fact is winning a tourney is primarily all luck. The rising blind structures in tourneys really negate skill. No fault to the player. Just the nature of the beast.
Take for example a coin flip. If you call heads, you have a 50% chance to win. But to win twice in a row is 50%x50% = 25% (4 possibilities, 1 win: HH TT TH HT). Your winning percentage drops dramatically. Using this priniciple, you can see how extremely lucky it is to win a tournament. Letís take some classic, heads up all in situations you commonly see in a tourney.
1)All in after the flop, Villain has 2 or less outs e.g. AA vs. KK with the river to come. You are 95% to win but try winning that situation 3 times in a row.
95% x 95% x 95% = 85% to win all 3. Still pretty great but now your only about a 5.6 to 1 favorite instead of a 19 to 1 favorite individually.
2)Pair vs Pair all in preflop for e.g. AA vs. KK. You are 80% to win but run it 3 times.
80% x 80% x 80% = 51%. So now winning all three situations is a coin flip. You basicall have a 50/50 shot that your AA will be cracked. Scary right?
3)Dominated hands preflop for e.g. AK vs AJ. You are 75% to win but run it 3 times.
75% x 75% x 75% = 42%. So now you are a 3 to 2 underdog to win all 3 even though you have the best hand.
4)After the flop, with a made hand versus a flush or open ended straight draw. We see this a lot where a Villain may push a strong draw hoping for a fold but still have outs if called. Since there are many variations of this letís estimate you as a 65% favorite to win the hand.
65% x 65% x 65% = 27%. So even though you got your money in good all three times, youíre a 2.7 to 1 underdog to win all three hands. Youíre not imagining things. They are sucking out on you. Itís improbable for you not to get sucked out on.
5)The classic race for e.g AK vs JJ. Letís sya this is like a coinflip, 50% to win.
50% x 50% x 50% = 13%. Almost a 6 to 1 underdog to win all three races.
6)Miscellaneous hands eg. AJ vs KQ or AJ vs QQ. Thereís many variations so letís split the diff and say youíre 60% to win.
60% x 60% x 60% = 21%. A 4 to 1 underdog to win all three.
Now letís construct a typical tournament where a lost all in either busts you or severely cripples your stack. And letís mix in the above situations because we see them a lot when the blinds get really high and Mís get smaller, especially preflop. Iím estimating to make final table in a tourney, you need to win at least 10 all in situations. So assuming you play error free and are always putting your money in good, letís say you have to survive 2 outers twice, pair vs pair twice, domination twice, races twice, a strong draw and a miscellaneous hand.:
95% x 95% x 80% x 80% x 75% x 75% x 50% x 50% x 65% x 60% = 3%.
So by playing skillful, mistake free, perfect poker, you have only a 3% chance of not busting before final table. Imagine what it is if you make a single mistake which happens 99% of the time.
So donít be so hard on yourself or your opponent when getting busted. No need for namecalling, cursing, smashing things or breaking your computer. No need to claim poker sites
are rigged. The reality of it is your chances of winning were minute regardless of skill level.
Coming to grips with this has made me a better player. Bad beats rarely affect me because I know thereís a better than 95% chance Iíll have one so I donít go on tilt and make stupid mistakes which hasten my exit. I also appreciate final tables more as I knew how extremely lucky I was to get there.
The solution? Play tourneys with less people (<300). Less chances to go or call an all in which increases your chances to survive and thrive. Also it slowed me down in going and calling all ins. Basically, itís slowly weening me off all in plays all together. My results have gotten much better. Try it. Donít go or call all ins unless you positively have to. Youíll live longer.