Poker Strategy: How to Get Max Value from a $10K WSOP Bankroll

Poker Strategy for the Rest of Us: How to Get Max Value from a $10K WSOP Bankroll

My previous article pointed out that this year’s WSOP has the best structures yet. I introduced the Blind-Off Time (BOT) and Medium Utility Hands (HM) metrics, which are useful for comparing the quality of various tournaments. Essentially, high BOT and HM equate to slower structures, which gives a skilled player greater opportunity to overcome bad luck.

WSOP chips

If you have your tournaments to choose, certain WSOP events provide better odds of giving a good payback. At least that’s our CardsChat strategy guy’s hope! (Image:

So now that the World Series is almost here, it’s time to think about how to best take advantage of these structural benefits when deciding what to do with our WSOP bankroll.

The WSOP for the Rest of Us 

Few of us have the mad skills of the professional superstar. And we don’t have the sponsorship that would allow us to enter nosebleed tournaments like the $50,000 or $100,000 High Roller, the $50,000 Player’s Championship or even the $10,000 Main Event. Even the $2,620 Marathon may seem out of our range.

But never fear. This year’s Series has plenty of low-hanging fruit for us to pick.

My WSOP Budget

I’m going to assume that we have just enough bankroll to finance an entry to the $10,000 Main Event.

Losing the 10 grand would hurt, but we are willing to take a shot. But as alluring as playing the Main Event would be, should we blow our whole roll on just one tournament? After all, even a pro might play many Main Events in a row without ever cashing, let alone a cashing deep.

Perhaps a better path for the rest of us would be to spread that $10K among a large number of cheaper tournaments. Not only would we have the enjoyment of playing much more poker, we would be spreading out our “variance” amount a larger number of tourneys. This is my own preference.

A Winning Plan

The shaded rows of Figure 1 summarize the tourneys I would play with my $10K budget. I have restricted my choices to events costing $1,000 or less with Day-1 levels at least 40 minutes long. I have also chosen events with the highest BOT and HM values.

As a decrepit old guy, I have included the Seniors and Supers Seniors tourneys. You youngsters can substitute Events #22 and #37. Female readers should add the Ladies Tournament (Event #47).

My 2019 WSOP $10K plan

My WSOP budget

Figure 1. “Stack” and “BB” is our starting stack in chips and BBs. “Levels” is the level duration on Day-1/Day-2. “BBA” refers to one of three Big Blind Ante structures used for these tourneys.

I realize that many players can’t afford a $10,000 budget, and that many others will not be in Vegas the entire Series. So I have included a few other tournaments you may wish to substitute for my own choices.

This plan takes me up to the Main Event, which I can enter if I still have my original $10K bankroll. If I have somewhat less, I can enter additional “Little One for One Drop” Day-1s.

The Big 50 (Event #3)

I begin by playing the Big 50 tournament. This tourney has a Blind-Off Time (BOT) of 224 hands, which is better than nearly all of the 2018 $1.5K events. And it’s a better value than every other 2019 event except the Colossus. The Big 50 also sports a $5 million guaranteed prize pool and a $1 million first place prize.

I never fire multiple bullets in a tournament, but playing four separate starting days is equivalent to playing in four different tournaments. So my plan is to play all four Day-1s unless I manage to make Day-2. This can cost me as much as $2,000 or as little as $500.

Seniors (Event #32) and Super Seniors (Event #39)

I cashed in both of these events last year, so I am looking forward to playing them again this year. This year’s events are especially alluring since their BOT have improved dramatically, going from 156 to 228 hands.

But there is an 11 day break between the Big 50 Day 1D and the Seniors tournament. If I cash in the Big 50, or if I make Day 2 in two events, I can add the $1K Double Stack (Event #22) or the $1K NLH (Event #28) to my plans. This second event conflicts with the Seniors event only if I make Day-3.

Neither of these substitute events are quite as good as the other events on the list, but they are still very good. They are excellent tournaments for those of you who will not be in Vegas for the full Series.

The Double Stack (Event #34)

Each of my tourneys except #75 allows only a single re-entry, and I never fire a second bullet. So, if I don’t make Day 2 of the Seniors, I will play Day 1A of the Double Stack the next day. The best case has me spending only $1,000 and making the final table of the Seniors event, not playing the Double Stack at all.

The Double Stack is one of the best quality tourneys on my list, with a BOT of 303 hands. It has a better quality than the Seniors because it starts out with double the chips. For those of you who are under 50 years old, the Double Stack should be a primary effort. (Note that the earlier Double Stack, Event #22, is not as good since the levels are only 30 minutes long on Day-1.)

NLH Tag Team (Event #57)

The Tag Team event allows up to four members for the $1,000 event. I will play this event if I find a suitable partner. This has the same excellent structure as the Seniors and Ladies events.

NLH Deepstack Championship (Event #59)

This event offers a slightly lower BOT than event #37, but at a lower price. I will play this event if I fail to reach Day-2 in the Tag Team event.

The Colossus (Event #61)

The 2019 Colossus has a much better BOT (232 vs 102) than it had last year, at a lower price. Along with the Big 50, the Colossus offers the best value at the Series. It is a “must play” for those on a tight budget. The Tag Team, Deepstack Championship and Colossus tourneys are on consecutive days, so success in one of them means I would not play in all of them. But success is a good thing.

The Main Event (Event #73) and/or the Little One for One Drop (Event #75)

If I make it to the Main Event with my $10K bankroll intact, then the Main Event is in the cards for me. This is clearly the best quality tournament in the Series and everyone dreams of playing in it.

If I am unsuccessful to this point, I can still enter one or more days of the Little One for One Drop. I cashed in this tournament last year and it was very exciting. (I cashed with 1 BB in my stack.) It’s also for a very good cause. And when you consider the excellent BOT of 303 hands, it’s the best tourney on my list not named “The Main Event”.


The 2019 WSOP is chock-full of high quality, low cost events. Those of us on a tight budget should at least consider playing the Big 50 and Colossus.

Those with a little bigger bankroll have a wide variety of strong options throughout the Series.

Steve Selbrede is the author of six books: The Statistics of PokerBeat the DonksDonkey Poker Volume 1: PreflopDonkey Poker Volume 2: PostflopDonkey Poker Volume 3: Hand Reading and Tournament Poker for the Rest of Us.

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).


Debi wrote...

That sounds like a solid plan!

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