In a bit of a slump?


Sick of those $1 MTTs giving you the painful poor ROI?

Are the satellites you grind grinding you?



Sometimes games you are running are bad variance. You play well but at the moment you are in the downswing part of your variance. If that is the case and honestly you are playing your best but you are either behind or ahead of your high part of your variance then perhaps stick with it.

On the other hand if nothing is going right and you are just wasting buyins game after game, it might be worth a change.


A change can be as simple as dropping a buyin level, switching the speed of the game you play, change the field size or playing less games.


For me, I was doing well for awhile in the 500-Cap / 250-Cap games, even scored a #1 spot in one for a nice cash but overall my performance was a bit off and on. I wasn't seeing enough positive gains to be able to look back and say "Yes, this game is treating me well"

So at suggestion of a friend, I switched to 90-man KO games and they are doing wonders for me.


I am not sure if it is the smaller field size or the types of players in these games but overall, the fields are soft, very few decent players and in the past 2 days I have FTed a few tables and won 2 of them. I have increased my bankroll by $20 (equivilant to about 15 buyins) per day each day for the last 2 days.


I think part of the reason I am doing well is that playing 500-cap games conditions you to play to a certain chip depth, In theory the games aren't that far apart since attrition from other players cancel each other out but...

500 / 2 = 250

250 / 2 = 125

125 / 2 = 62

62 / 2 = 31

31 / 2 = 15

15 / 2 = 7 (voila, FT)


Same for 90 man

90 / 2 = 45

45 / 2 = 22

22 / 2 = 11

11 / 2 = 5 (voila, FT)


So you have 6 hops with a 500-cap game to reach the FT and 4 for the 90-man

Whilst you are never going to get a series of hands that you doubleup in a row of course, the principle is there where you have to go from a starting stack of 1,500 to 45,000 (which is the average needed to find the Final 3 spots) - thats a factor of 30:1

Compare that to a 500-cap, you have to turn 2,000 chips into 333,000 to reach the Final 3 spots, that is a factor of 166:1.


Top 3 spots that pay in a 55c 500-cap are 13.8% on average, a prize pool of $275 means top 3 spots net you about $37.95 on average.

To break even, you would need to play 69 games.


Compare that to a 90-man of the same buyin (say 55c, although they don't run them at that level)

Prize pool is only $49.50 but top 3 spots get 20% of the prize pool on average at $9.90

So now to break even, you would need to play 18 games.


On the face of it, the 55c game looks more attractive since you have 3.8x as much variance to spread your losses over... however considering the difference between starting stacks and the stack you need to get (30:1 vs 166:1) the direct comparison between these is 5.5x


So when looking at the variance figures now, it doesn't look as appealing since we need to on average multiple our starting stack by 5.5x as much to achieve the same standing to win a big prize in 500-cap vs 90-man... and since our variance only really gives us a 3.8x advantage over spreading our losses in a larger variance of games, we are -EV in this comparison.


I know it isn't that clear cut, games aren't a maths equation but it is obvious to anyone who has played long tournaments that no matter how many opponents there are, you know the longer you are in the tournament, the harder and harder on a compound basis it is to last.

The payoff is a bigger score when you reach the Final Table and the top 3 spots.

For the decision to go with a larger field over a smaller field to make sense, the payoff has to make sense too.


Lastly, lets look at a sample size of 10,000 games in 500-cap and 90-man.

Lets assume that everyone's skill level is equal, with this in mind the variance should come out to you cashing in the top 3 spots,  3/500 (166;1) of the 500-cap games and 3/90 (30:1)

In 10,000 500-cap games

Buyins spent = 55c x 10,000 ($5,500)

Prize Pool (fixed at $275)

Will cash 99/500 occasions, the average of these over a 500 game run is $2.77r.

The total over 10,000 games is $27,777 and a profit of $22,277


In 10,000 90-man games

Buyins spent = 55c x 10,000 ($5,500)

Prize Pool (fixed at $49.50)

Will cash 13/90 occasions, the average of these over a $3.80

The total over 10,000 games is $38,076 and a profit of $32,576


The only way that playing 500-cap games over 90-man games makes any logical sense is if you have the ability to cash and reach the Final Table more.

To balance out the difference between completely luck-based variance in a 90-man game and using a skill edge in the 500-cap games, you would need to perform 20% better.


Either way, at the end of it... smaller field is MUCH smaller variance and much less reliance on luck. For a larger field to work you must have

a) Lots of time (since the larger field requires a higher variance and more games)

b) A larger bankroll (again, larger field requires more games and games cost $$$)

b) A skill edge.... This is the most important factor as if you rely purely on luck, you will lose progressivly more and more the higher variance games you play (faster, larger, harder) and it is not smart to just say "i will just play more games" since the effect of variance is compound and without an adequate skill advantage, the larger the fields get the progressivly harder it is to be +EV


I think for a lot of players there is a sweet spot where games like 9-man/18-man don't net you enough of a win and games like 180-man/500-cap are too much like a lottery.

If you can find a sweet spot that works for you and you can cash regularly, then you do well. You then hone your ability and when you have capped your winning pottential at that type of game, move up... but do so knowing that you need a skill edge to handle the larger variance and still make the same as (and more) as you have done at the current game.


For me, at the moment the 90-man games seem good. The ROI is consistent and i don't feel I am as reliant on luck to get ahead.


We shall see, early doors yet but with 2 running days of #1 finishes and $20 bankroll boosts each day, I am very happy