# NLHE Tourneys are all luck so don't sweat them...

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#### Shylax

##### Rock Star
Silver Level
"If it wasn’t for luck I’d 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. Let’s 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 let’s 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, you’re a 2.7 to 1 underdog to win all three hands. You’re not imagining things. They are sucking out on you. It’s improbable for you not to get sucked out on.

5)The classic race for e.g AK vs JJ. Let’s 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. There’s many variations so let’s split the diff and say you’re 60% to win.
60% x 60% x 60% = 21%. A 4 to 1 underdog to win all three.

Now let’s construct a typical tournament where a lost all in either busts you or severely cripples your stack. And let’s mix in the above situations because we see them a lot when the blinds get really high and M’s get smaller, especially preflop. I’m 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, let’s 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 don’t 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 there’s a better than 95% chance I’ll have one so I don’t 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, it’s slowly weening me off all in plays all together. My results have gotten much better. Try it. Don’t go or call all ins unless you positively have to. You’ll live longer.

#### bob_tiger

##### Legend
Silver Level
I'm not even going to bother to argue with you, I just suggest you stop playing if you dont like it then, thats all.

#### pokerace3454

##### Rock Star
Silver Level
yes it all about luck and thank you i was on tilt

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#### Shylax

##### Rock Star
Silver Level
I'm not even going to bother to argue with you, I just suggest you stop playing if you dont like it then, thats all.

Who said I didn't like tournaments? I love tournaments. I'm just pointing out how even with perfect play, they're almost impossible to win and you will get sucked out on or receive a bad beat.

I'm suggesting lowering your all-in instances will increase your chances of survival because the very nature of tournaments stack the odds against you before a hand is played.

Reading is fundamental dude....

#### bob_tiger

##### Legend
Silver Level
yea i see what your saying, but i dont think tourneys are all luck. And yes I read your thread, and I think you misunderstood my point.

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#### Shylax

##### Rock Star
Silver Level
yea i see what your saying, but i dont think tourneys are all luck. And yes I read your thread, and I think you misunderstood my point.

Within the tourney, yes, you need skill, but luck is the defining factor whether you win.

Let's assume you're the God of poker and face 10 all ins as a 95% fav. That's a testament to superior skill getting all your money in as a 19 to 1 favorite each time. And with all that skill shown, you're still only 56% to win all 10. Basically a coin flip when you did everything right. One or two losses bust you. That's the point I'm making.

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#### marble

##### Rock Star
Silver Level
Shylax is absolutely right. it is extremely difficult to win a big MTT and takes a lot of luck to do so. although, if you look at it in the long run or a massive amount of tournaments played, the stronger players will prevail and luck becomes less significant. another way of understanding this is the stock market. in the short term, stocks are risky but in the long term, they are more consistant than bonds.

#### Lo-Dog

##### Cardschat Elite
Silver Level
I actually think OP has some points.

Large entry tourneys do take a lot of luck, thats why it is very unlikely to ever see a pro win the wsop again.

300 or less actually does does give more of an edge to skill imo.

As for the math above, well I've had a couple beers and cant be arsed to do it myself.

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#### pkrook

##### Rock Star
Silver Level
Hmmmm....

does this mean NL is no longer fun....oh what will i do now...

#### odinscott

##### Legend
Silver Level
Well OP is definitely correct regarding the role that luck plays. The only people that can make it to the final table are the ones that win the face offs. I know that going into Poker Tracker and looking at each time I get knocked out of a tournament, I made the correct play 95% of the time. It is exactly as he says - making the right play will not save you everytime. This means that if you have to face multiple all-in calls, the odds are very high that you will get sucked out on. I can appreciate where he talks about not letting it bother you, because I find myself just staring at the screen, when I played for 2 hours, only to bust barely in the cash. Yeah I got my buy-in back, for 2 or 3 hours of play... And the worst part is when you get eliminated by someone you have dominated. I mean if it is a coin-flip (or even a 60/40 etc), that is fine. But when you are a 90 or 95% favorite, dreading that river card... holding your breath... here it comes... and there it is... ... he made quad 2s to crack you... *sigh*

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#### sachleen

##### Rising Star
Bronze Level
Typically, its where most of the good players stand in a MTT. They put their money in only when the are heavily favored to win and the key word favored.
You are bound to get sucked out one time or another and you are bound to be beaten a rogue A when you have pocket kings one time or another. I think that reading about perfection in poker books trains our brains to expect positive results all the time with good cards. I am not saying that these books haven't helped me but to an average player, these books and scenarios described in them are near perfect hence cheating our brain into thinking that when we play like the pros, we win like the pros. However, The WSOP results from the past years tell a different story. Just my 2 cents

#### riverboatrat

##### Visionary
Silver Level
I been playing solid holdem for over 18 months now, initially I was bad and had no luck, obviously over the last say, 8 months , my game has improved dramatically, I have learnt more and my game has improved.

I find myself winning more tournaments now than before.

Its amazing how the better I get, the luckier I get !

And luck always seems to favour the better players, which is why we see the same faces at final tables of major events and wpt events. The iveys, juandas, helmuths, matusows, all incredibly lucky people. amazing hey ?

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#### marble

##### Rock Star
Silver Level
They put their money in only when the are heavily favored to win and the key word favored.

i disagree with this statement. there are a lot of other factors why good players put their chips in the pot other than their cards being favored. this i believe is part of the seperation between abc players and the ellites.

-m

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#### Shylax

##### Rock Star
Silver Level
I been playing solid holdem for over 18 months now, initially I was bad and had no luck, obviously over the last say, 8 months , my game has improved dramatically, I have learnt more and my game has improved.

I find myself winning more tournaments now than before.

Its amazing how the better I get, the luckier I get !

And luck always seems to favour the better players, which is why we see the same faces at final tables of major events and wpt events. The iveys, juandas, helmuths, matusows, all incredibly lucky people. amazing hey ?

I'm glad you're having a nice run but chances are it won't last. When the good times stop, I beg you not to get discouraged or blame the sites or call people donks. That's all I'm trying to say. I was reading somewhere recently about Chad Baptista who was killing pokerstars tourneys for a while but then was losing so he started moaning and complaining about Pokerstars conspiracy to stop him from winning and yada yada yada. LOsing tourneys is supposed to happen. That's why the payoff for winning them is so huge. The odds to win are so great regardless of how well you play.

It's funny you mention some pros. John Juanda kinda inspired this. I was playing one of the FTOPS, with John at my table. It was close to the money, My stack was about medium as was his. I had QQ UTG and raised, John was the button and he called, the BB called to. Flop came 7 Q 5 rainbow. BB bet half the pot, I reraised, John reraised. BB goes all in, I go all in and John called. BB had 555, I had QQQ, John had 777. Well, John spiked a 7 on the turn.

I was stunned. Here is a multimillionaire pro player sucking out on me. WHy God?!?! He didn't need that hand. It was my one opportunity to actually win a hand against a great player. Can't God give me one?!?! Then, I calmed down and realized even if I had won, There would come a time I'd need to win at least 2 races for my chips if I wanted to win this thing. 50%x50% = 25%. So no matter how great I got my money in, my overall probablity to win would be no greater than 25%(25% of a 100% is still 25%). So whether it was John's suckout or a loss later on to a suckout or a race, chances were unles I get extremely lucky and win all my all-ins, I was going to bust. The same goes for John Juanda. Even though he sucked out on me he faces the same dillemma. He's going to have to win a couple of races to survive too. We're all in the same boat when it comes to tourneys. BTW, that tourney had 3,000 players and none of the FT pros made it far.

So yeah, you see the same great player at WPT events or small field WSOP events but those events usually have 500 or less players so their skills shine through. You rarely see them at final tables at the WSOP bigger events because then luck takes over. Doesn't mean they can't get lucky, just that they're human as we are.

#### odinscott

##### Legend
Silver Level
I been playing solid holdem for over 18 months now, initially I was bad and had no luck, obviously over the last say, 8 months , my game has improved dramatically, I have learnt more and my game has improved.

I find myself winning more tournaments now than before.

Its amazing how the better I get, the luckier I get !

And luck always seems to favour the better players, which is why we see the same faces at final tables of major events and wpt events. The iveys, juandas, helmuths, matusows, all incredibly lucky people. amazing hey ?

That is somewhat true, but usually it is the worse player sucking out on the better player. This is because the better player got all-in with the better hand, and therefore is not the underdog. The lesser player is the one that goes in with A5os, while the good player has AKs. Then it is the lesser player that gets the two 5s on the board. I just wish that I felt like you do - that I am actually getting luckier. -- Actually you know thinking about it, I do feel luckier in cash games. But in MTT I am anything but lucky. I find myself in with the best hand (odds in my favour), nearly everytime, but I usually dont finish where I would like to.

#### riverboatrat

##### Visionary
Silver Level
Shylax you missed what I was trying to say, nonetheless, I have my opinion, you can stick to yours

#### nevadanick

##### Back to work ... zzzzz
Silver Level
Poker is not today - what poker once was. Online gaming has changed that - forever. NLHE was originally a different game and more often than not, can now be called AIHE, and many of those 'all-ins' are preflop.

Pro players make their big money in high stake cash games, NOT in huge field MTT's. Take a look at the faces of many of the pros when they are playing in big events. C'mon - you guys are 'good' at reads and tells. Look close and you'll see many of them don't even want to be there anymore.

Why are they there? Because they need the photo opps and appearances for the endorsement packages and contracts.

A NEW HOPE ? Yes! The early stages of "pro-revival" - H.O.R.S.E. The new 'PREMIER' poker game - choice of the PROS. Is it NLHE? Not a chance. 5 out of 5 LIMIT games. For the all-in NLHE experts - put up your \$50,000 and take on the REAL pros in P-O-K-E-R games. You WILL see many of those pro faces at all the HORSE final tables.

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#### he@rtLeSS

##### Rising Star
Bronze Level
if you lose 1 all in its not bad, if you got enough behind ...

#### odinscott

##### Legend
Silver Level
if you lose 1 all in its not bad, if you got enough behind ...

Correct but when it is at the point of the tournament when the smaller stacks need to start pushing, you either have to fold or finally play a hand. Then it is all-in multiple times.

#### dweezel

##### Rock Star
Silver Level
You flip a coin ....... 50/50 chance it will be heads
Flip it again ..... or a zillion times ..... its still 50/50 to be heads
If its heads 250000 times in a row ..... the next time its still 50/50 to be heads.
in other words... the older you get the odds you will be struck by lightning
don't change think about it.

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#### sin2win

##### Rising Star
Silver Level
it's not all luck, yea sometimes it comes down to winning arace but besides that u should put u re chips in with the best hand, hence eliminating a lot of lucck factors. there will always be suck outs and bad beats but thats the beauty of poker.

#### odinscott

##### Legend
Silver Level
You flip a coin ....... 50/50 chance it will be heads
Flip it again ..... or a zillion times ..... its still 50/50 to be heads
If its heads 250000 times in a row ..... the next time its still 50/50 to be heads.
in other words... the older you get the odds you will be struck by lightning
don't change think about it.

If you need to win the coin flip in order to not get knocked out of the tournament, then your point really just makes his point stronger...
The odds are that you will not win 20 coin flips back to back, so therefore the person that wins the tournament had to have more luck than the person that didnt...

it's not all luck, yea sometimes it comes down to winning arace but besides that u should put u re chips in with the best hand, hence eliminating a lot of lucck factors. there will always be suck outs and bad beats but thats the beauty of poker.

I dont say that it is all luck, it obviously is better when you get in with the best hands. BUT there is definitely lots of luck, because I (99% of the time) go in with the best hand and eventually get knocked out instead of winning. THAT is luck.

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#### Shylax

##### Rock Star
Silver Level
You flip a coin ....... 50/50 chance it will be heads
Flip it again ..... or a zillion times ..... its still 50/50 to be heads
If its heads 250000 times in a row ..... the next time its still 50/50 to be heads.
in other words... the older you get the odds you will be struck by lightning
don't change think about it.

Yes each individual event is 50/50. But if you had to keep getting heads to survive than the odds are 50% to 25% to 12.5% and so on and so on. It takes 1 or 2 all in losses in a NLHE tourney to knock you out. That's the point I'm making.

Cash game. You're not forced to play all in. Blinds don't raise and if worse comes to worse, dip in your pocket and rebuy. Skill is king. Each hand is a seperate hand where the odds stay as is. There's no need to win every chip at the table. There's no set amount of chips.

But a tourney there's no do over. You have to win every chip in the tourney thus you have to win all your encounters. One or two losses can end your tourney. So you can't go by an individual probability but the probability of the whole event in other words the probability you win all or close to all of your all in encounters.

#### 4Aces

##### is watching you
Silver Level
NLHE Tourneys are all luck so don't sweat them...

I didn't read past the thread title.

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#### Shylax

##### Rock Star
Silver Level
I didn't read past the thread title.

Open your mind brother. You might learn something...