Poker Strategy for the Rest of Us: What to Play at the 2020 Online WSOP

Now that we’ve been playing and practicing online poker for a while, the question presents itself: how do we cash in on all of our hard work? I suggest the 2020 WSOP Summer Online Bracelet Series.

2020 WSOP online

The 2020 WSOP will be unlike any other, and even simply choosing your events is a different game. (Image: WSOP)


“There are few things that are so unpardonably neglected in our country as poker.”

–Mark Twain


2020 WSOP Online Bracelet Series

The 2020 WSOP at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas was scheduled to begin at the end of May, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many planned WSOP live circuit events were also canceled, but some were moved to their online platform, which can be accessed in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. These online circuit tourneys appear to have been successful, with more than 500 entries for some recent events.

Recently, the WSOP moved its Rio summer series to its online site, with 31events beginning on July 1. An additional 54 events for international players will be played on the GGPoker platform beginning in August.

The Online Bracelet Series isn’t a duplication of the traditional summer WSOP as it offers only No-Limit Hold’em (27 events), PLO (3 events), and Omaha-8 (1 event). The NLH buy-ins range from $400 to $3,200, with 21 of them costing $800 or less. There are also various formats, with freezouts, 6-Max, knockouts, deepstacks, and turbo tournaments all on offer.

The Online WSOP Schedule

Figure 1 shows the schedule for the NLH events, with the bottom three rows added for comparison purposes.

# Tourney Buy-In Chips Stack
(BBs)
Level
(min)
RB Structure BOT T4
(Hrs)
H4
1 Kick-Off $500 15000 300 15 2 A 220 5.20 343
2 8-Max DS $1,000 30000 750 15 2 B 230 5.29 349
3 NLH $400 15000 300 15 2 A 220 5.20 343
4 Super Turbo $500 30000 600 6 2 A 113 2.08 137
5 Freezeout $1,000 20000 500 15 0 A 215 5.00 330
7 Knockout DS $800 30000 600 15 0 A 268 5.95 393
8 Freezeout $500 20000 400 15 0 A 239 5.50 363
9 6-Max $1,000 20000 500 15 2 B 202 5.29 349
10 MonsterStack $600 40000 800 15 2 C 246 5.50 363
11 6-Max DS Turbo $500 40000 800 8 2 A 159 3.30 218
12 The BIG 500 $500 20000 400 15 3 A 239 5.50 363
13 High Roller Freezeout $1,500 25000 625 15 0 B 230 5.29 349
14 High Roller $3,200 25000 500 20 2 C 258 6.70 442
15 Turbo $500 30000 600 8 2 A 175 3.17 209
17 NLH $777 15000 300 15 2 C 179 5.29 349
18 8-Max DS Turbo $1,000 40000 800 8 2 A 179 3.30 218
19 NLH $400 15000 300 15 2 A 220 5.20 343
21 6-Max $777 15000 300 15 2 C 179 5.29 349
22 Turbo DS $500 40000 800 8 2 A 179 3.30 218
23 Knockout $500 25000 500 15 0 A 254 5.79 382
24 8-Max $400 15000 300 15 2 A 216 5.20 343
25 Summer Saver $500 20000 400 15 2 A 239 5.50 363
26 Grand Finale $500 15000 300 15 3 A 220 5.20 343
27 Freezeout $400 20000 400 15 0 A 239 5.50 363
29 6-Max DS Turbo $600 40000 800 8 2 A 159 3.30 218
30 Seniors $500 20000 400 15 2 A 239 5.50 363
31 Championship $1,000 20000 500 15 2 B 215 5.00 330
1 PM DS Freezeout $20 5000 250 10 0 C 150 3.03 200
28 2019 Rio Seniors $1,000 20000 200 60 1 D 228 15.0 495
$250 Circuit Events $250 10000 200 30 U E 119 6.50

215

Figure 1. The NLH portion of the 2020 WSOP online bracelet series.

The first eight columns show the tournament number, tourney description, buy-in, starting stack size (in chips and BBs), duration of each level, the number of allowed re-buys, and a structure code. Notice that these 27 events utilize only three different structures.

The BOT Metric

The last three columns show the metrics I use to rate the quality (speed) of each tournament. In my book, Tournament Poker for the Rest of Us, I use a speed metric called Blind Off Time (BOT), which is the number of hands we would be dealt if we folded every hand.

Comparing the BOT for different tourneys is an excellent way to compare their relative speed. The higher the BOT, the slower the tournament and the better it is for a skilled player. To calculate a tournament’s BOT, we need the structure information and the deal rate for that tournament, which allows comparison of tourneys with different deal rates.

For example, Event #1has a BOT of 220 hands. This compares very favorably to the 2019 Rio Seniors event with a BOT of 228, and it’s much better than recent $250 WSOP circuit events, which had BOTs of 119.

The H4 (T4) Metric

I’ve recently developed a new quality metric which more accurately reflects tournament speed, and which is easier for most of us to calculate. This is the H4 (or T4) metric. T4 is the number of hours we would play before our original starting stack would reach four big blinds. H4 simply converts this to the number of hands played, based on the hand dealing rate.

If we start with 20,000 chips, the T4 point is reached when the big blind reaches 5,000 chips. For example, Event #5 starts with 20,000 chips with 15-minute levels. Level 23 has a 5,000-chip big blind, so we must play a full 22 levels to reach the T4 point, which should take about is 5.5 hours. Playing an average of 66 hands per hour, which is what my measurements show, this would be an H4 of 343 hands.

Tournaments from the same series have the same dealing rate, so we need only compare the T4 times to see which events are the best (slowest). If we wish to compare an online tourney with a live tourney, we need to estimate their dealing rates to calculate their H4 points.

Why do we care about the T4 metric? First, it is very easy to calculate. Second, I’ve analyzed many online and live tourneys, and found that the T4 point is very close to the 15% cashing point for most tourneys. So the H4 (T4) metric is not only useful to compare tournament speed, it is also a useful estimate of when our tournament will cash.

The SharkScope Ratings

We can use SharkScope to estimate how competitive these online tourneys might be. SharkScope allows five free searches per day, which we can use to look up tourney results. Simply type in the tourney ID# and the results are revealed. Some recent WSOP online tourneys are summarized in Figure 2.

Date Time Description Fee Structure Entries Ability Hrs. Cost
16-May 13:00 $3000 Guaranteed FO  $20 FO 231 66 5.55 $20
7-Jun 17:00 Sunday KO $100 KO 257 75 5.91 $100
12-Jun 16:00 Online Circuit MS $320 3R 507 78 10.01 $438
7-Jun 18:00 Sunday Turbo DS FO $50 Turbo FO 348 75 4.47 $50
12-Jun 19:00 NLH $55 5R, 6Max 136 76 4.34 $115
10-Jun 16:00 Online Circuit (Ring) $215 2R 577 78 7.12 $322
8-Jun 16:00 Online Circuit FO $320 FO 419 80 7.42 $320
11-Jun 16:00 Online Circuit MS $320 2R 422 81 6.74 $504
7-Jun 14:00 Online Circuit MS $525 3R 491 82 9.38 $700
9-Jun 16:00 Online Circuit High Roller $1,000 2R, 6Max 187 85 8.12 $1,531
9-Jun 18:00 Tuesday Showdown $500 R 110 86 5.61 $835

Figure 2. SharkScope information for various WSOP online events.

The key SharkScope features are the Ability score and the average cost of the tournament. For example, the average ability of the players in the $20 daily 1 PM freezeout event is 66, on a scale of 0-100. This is considerably less competitive than the $100 Sunday Knockout event, with an average ability score of 75. And that is considerably easier than the $500 Tuesday showdown, with an average ability score of 86.

We won’t know how tough the WSOP bracelet tourneys are until they run, but you can check the Event #1 results on July 2 to get an idea of how competitive later $400 and $500 events might be.

You can also look at the “Cost” column to estimate the prevalence of re-buys. For example, the average cost of the June 12 $320 online circuit MegaStack was $438, suggesting that about a third of the entrants re-bought.

So Which Events Are Best?

Figure 1 shows that the non-turbo, full-ring events costing less than $800 all have similar H4 values, ranging from 343 to 393 hands. This indicates that they are all very similar and also very good. And each of them is much better than the turbo events. It’s also clear that the cheaper events are nearly as good as the most expensive ones.

For those of you on a budget, try the $400 and $500 events. The best of these is the $400 Event #23 with an H4 of 382. Nearly as good is the $400 Event #27 with an H4 of 363. The $500 events – numbers 8, 13, 25, and 30 — have the same H4 at a slightly higher price. Event #30 is likely to be the softest of these tourneys since it’s a seniors event.

Conclusion

We can use several metrics to compare tourneys we might like to enter. The W4 metric shows that most of the WSOP online, non-turbo bracelet events are of similar quality. If you’re on a budget, spread out your variance by entering the cheaper events. After all, they each offer a gold bracelet for the winner.

Written by
Steve Selbrede
Retired Silicon Valley engineer, vigorous poker researcher and author of seven poker books, including his latest, Lectures on Poker, Volume 1: Small Stack GTO Tournament Strategy (The Holy Grail Algorithms).

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