Tuesday, June 14, 2005

My thoughts on qualifying for the WSOP

Well, there is just a little over 3 weeks before the start of the $10,000 buy-in main event at the WSOP. I have still yet to qualify, and given the schedule in my personal life (pretty much all the weekend days and many weekday nights between now and then are otherwise committed) there are very few opportunities left.

I'd like to think out loud now to try and determine if it is worth it for me to continue to try and qualify.

The 2 main resources in my poker life are $ and time... there are other factors, but I choose to ignore those for now.

I have already invested ~$650 and between 25-30 hours directly in various levels of WSOP qualifiers. I have committed a comparable number of hours working on my live game. Finally, I have also been redirecting a substantial portion of my playing time to playing large field multitable online tournaments.

In order to be able to make it to the money at the WSOP (I will only bother to calculate my costs of just making it to the money, because if I could make it noticably farther, then my costs will be fairly insignificant), I would have to take a minimum of 4 days of vacation from my day job plus travel and accomodation expenses. I estimate these items collectively cost $2100. Let me be so bold as to estimate I could have a 20% probability to make it into the top 10%. If just making it to the money pays $12k, then I would estimate my EV to be $2400. $2400-$2100 = $300 net.

That means if I qualify tonight on a freeroll, then I'm at $2400-$2100-$650= -$350. Thus I need to quantify to myself how much it is worth to me to able to participate in the WSOP. Off the top of my head, let's say the experience is worth paying $1000.

Actually, I believe I do not need to include any $ or time already spent in qualification attempts because I am currently only trying to determine whether any ~additional~ $ or time is worth investing.

The next thing that must be considered is the probability of qualifying online for each $1 spent.

Let's use the $11k Stars WSOP package for the sake of discussion. Each $110 spent on qualifying represents 1% of the value of the package. For simplicity, let's assume that because of my immense talent (please hold the laughter) I am twice as likely as average to win a seat. ($650/$11000)*2 = 11.8%. The $11k package includes $1k cash for expenses.

Carrying on with my monkey math (earlier I calculated a net $300 if I did win a seat, plus the $1000 in worth that I value the experience), if I was willing to commit this $650, then financially I could expect to have an 11.8% chance to get $2300 of value (including the $1k cash from the package). That is a terrible financial decision!!

Reviewing some of my earlier assumptions, the one assumption that actually has a substantial impact is my weighted probability of finishing at various levels in the money. My assumption was that 80% of the time I would not make the money, and the other 20% I would just make it past the money bubble. I did not take into account any probability of finishing higher than that.
(BTW, some respectable people in the poker community estimate that for a good tournament pro, the EV of entering the $10k main event this year is between $40-60k)

I pretty much discount the possibility of finishing any higher than the 95th percentile because my past history has shown that my frequency of mistakes after long playing sessions is just too high. I think that mistakes made at that stage in the tournament will be greatly magnified since there will be higher likihood that many opponents at that stage are more capable of taking advantage of rookie mistakes.
I don't know how to model my probabilities of finishing at various levels between the 90th percentile and the 95th percentile.

Note: One obvious drawback to the online qualifying process is that I cannot sell the seat if I win just 1. I wonder if seats that are won in live qualifiers allow for the winner to sell his/her seat. My calculations would give totally different results if I could assume that I could sell the seat for $9k. However, if this is my line of thinking, then why wouldn't I just be playing cash tournaments instead of WSOP satellites?

My current Conclusion:
It has been a poor choice of $ and time investment to participate in these WSOP qualifiers. Until I can either adjust my assumptions or improve my various "skills" to increase various probabilities, it is an incorrect decision to spend any resources on the WSOP qualifiers.


I just re-read everything above. The thing that jumps out the most to me is that I did not take into account the time value of money.

When I play in my most reliable (and boring) and low variance online multitable ring games, I can expect an hourly rate (clock time) of $50 per hour including rakeback.

I already invested 25+ hours in qualifiers, and I had been considering spending approximately another 12-20 hours in additional qualification attempts. Time-value-of-money-wise, this works out to ~$2k.

It seems apparent that I should spending my efforts on building my bankroll to a sufficient size that I can directly buy-in to these large events. This is likely far in the future. I think my vanity has gotten the better of me the last couple of months.

I think I should give some thought to how to allocate my poker time between playing games that I can easily beat (to increase the bankroll) and moving to higher limit games. DoubleAs has a pretty strong opinion on this subject (see his June 13th entry).

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