Sunday, March 12, 2006

Dead money Inc.

In typical Party fashion, when the play in the WSOP freeroll got close to the bubble (20 spots get some kind of WSOP seat; 20->11 get a $2k seat, 10-2 get a $10k seat, 1st gets a $50k seat), several remaining players start asking what the prizes are. One player believed this was a satellite for a big online tournament. Another asked where the WSOP is. Others get into an argument about whether or not hotel expenses are included with any of the prizes (they are not). Pretty funny stuff considering it was more or less bubble time.

I was fortunate to be in good chip stack shape from 30 on down to the final table, so it was not that stressful because there were so many shorter stacks that were letting themselves get blinded off. Inside the bubble, someone at the other table convinced a player that expenses were included in the $2k prize, but not the $10k prizes, so that he deliberedly busted early. Good stuff.

There really did seem to be a considerable percentage of the players that were very concerned about the expense of attending the WSOP. Understandable I guess, particularly as some players were from outside the US.

When the final table was reached, the undecided question in my mind was whether or not to play for the $50k seat. I hadn't given the topic enough thought in advance because before the start of the freeroll it seemed like too ridiculous a subject to spend time thinking about. During the first half of the MTT, I was preoccupied with 2 tabling $10/$20 6 max, and during the later half I was giving my full attention to the play at the table. (okay, this is a lie. I was frequently punching numbers into a spreadsheet calculating things like my tournament equity; bad habit, I know...)

At least 3 of the final tablers (and perhaps 4), did decide that they absolutely did not want the $50k seat as they pushed early and often with absolute trash. When we were down to 6, it did seem like everyone else was playing for 1st. As I hadn't made any decision, I was purely in small stakes SNG autopilot mode. Somewhere along the way, I settled on the argument that with 4.5 months left, I would probably have more chances at a ME seat, but pretty unlikely to have another chance at a HORSE seat. At that moment I remember having 20% of the chips, so my "decision" didn't really mean that much because any edge that I might have had probably didn't mean I had any more than a 25% chance of taking first.
Anyway, long story short, I eke out the victory to claim the $50k HORSE seat.


In retrospect, dumping off for the $10k ME seat was the better thing to do from the $EV POV. Despite the 1/5 size of the buyin, I'm almost certainly more than 5x more likely to cash in a NLHE MTT than a high skill required HORSE event (granted my chances of cashing in the ME are also pretty slim).

From a poker/lifetime experience point of view, it will be quite a thrill to likely be playing at a table filled with poker greats. Talk about Dead Money. In the ME, you'd expect (and hope for) lots of table time with donk internet qualifiers.

From a logistics standpoint, it will be easier for me to schedule time off work to play in the 3 day HORSE event.

Which would you choose - ME or HORSE? and why?


ScurvyDog said...

I think the real question is would you sell the $50K seat for its face value if offered the chance. I'd like to say I wouldn't, choosing instead to experience a once in a lifetime poker opportunity, but in reality I'd probably sell it in a heartbeat if I could.

I think you can make arguments either way, as far as which event would be best for you from the the $EV POV. I wouldn't understimate the field size factor, as I can't see the $50K HORSE event getting more than 200-300 entries at most.

Yeah, they're likely almost all world-class players, but you have to make it through far fewer players to make the money. You also just have to barely make the money to make at least $50K (slightly more, but no structure to compare it to), netting you a profit of $50K or so, whereas getting lucky enough to outlast thousands in the ME and barely making the money only nets you $12,500 or so in profit (using last years payouts).

d said...


I had been operating under the assumption that I absolutely cannot sell the seat for any amount. I'm open to any ideas on how I could do this, as I would be willing to sell the seat for a substantial discount to face value.

I agree that the field is likely to be on the order of 200 people. Projecting a payout to the top 10% means "only" having to make it past ~180 opponents. However, the skill factor of HORSE is something that is constantly stressed, so I have no illusions about how ridiculously lucky I would have to run to make it to the top ~20.

For the $EV comparison, the math of it mostly boils down to what is my probability of making it to the money in each event. I "only" need to be 5x more likely to cash in the ME.

Roberto Roundtree Rogelio said...

There's got to be someone somewhere who would jump at the chance to buy that seat for say..... 40k?

You could take the 40k, buy-in to the main event for 10k, and still be up 30 large no matter what happens.

Either way... congrats! What were the requirements to be in the freeroll?

d said...


What I'm really unclear about is whether or not it is possible to sell the seat. From what I imagine, Party will be signing me up directly with Harrah's. I am sceptical that Harrah's allows the seat to be transferred, though I would definitely use that route if available.

The requirements for the Party WSOP freeroll is pretty simple. You play in one of 12 daily qualifiers and finish in the top 50. Thus ~3000+ people will qualify each week for the Saturday freeroll for 20 seats. More details at:


Div said...

I'd definitely go for the HORSE seat.

From a practical perspective, the ME this year is going to be awful long. (Not so awful for those who go deep into the money though!)

Also, as Scurvydog points out, scraping into the money in the HORSE tourney is a big, big win.

But primarily I'd want to play in the HORSE tourney for the experience.

In the first day of the ME, if you are seated at a table with one pro you recognise it will be a buzz, but it might not happen.

I'd guess at the HORSE tourney, there's a fair chance your first table will have 2 or 3 players you will certainly recognise.

I think the HORSE tourney will provide a more legitimate 'champion' than the ME. Just to play in it will be sensational.

Congrats again!