You Just Won a Big Tournament, Now What?

This is a follow-up to the blog I wrote Thursday called “How Often Should I be Cashing?”  My friend and fellow poker player TP made a great comment on that blog regarding what to do if you are skilled enough and/or get lucky enough to house a big payday? 

His comment was this:

Something I would add from experience……when you do hit that big payday – don’t get cocky! It’s easy to do after a big win, you think you’re the “MAN” but reality hits hard when you go card dead for a longer streak than you’ve ever had.  And keep your bankroll in check, it is easy to lose site of the big picture when you have a lot of cash on hand 😉 

This is a phenomenal point and I wanted to discuss this further.  How you react or what you do after winning a big tournament can be just as important as how you got there. 

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve see players work so hard to finally have their day, they win $30K, $40K, $80K and then spend the next 6 months blowing that money faster than Latrell Sprewell. 

My interviews often go like this:

Me:  “So Joe Schmoe, congrats on your win and all that money, what next?”

Joe: “I’m on the next flight to Vegas!” 

I’ve had to battle these demons myself.  We all want to be rich and famous wearing Full Tilt patches on ESPN. 

We want to buy cars, buy clothes, eat fancy dinners, etc. thinking this game is easy and the paydays will keep coming one after another.  We’ve figured it out!  

We quickly forget about the hundreds of tournaments and variance it takes to finally have this day.  So instead of treating our newfound bankroll as a savings plan, we treat it like it will be a bi-weekly pay check. 

As poker players we often play out of our bankroll to play in $500 or $1,000 tournaments here in this state.  The reason we do that is because those tournaments offer much better structures.  Most $65 tournaments are free-for-alls.  If you find a $65 tourney locally that lasts 20 hours please let me know, I’m in.  

Realistically most players are playing $500 or $1,000 tournaments with a $10,000 or less bankroll.  And we know statistically that’s not the right thing to do but we all want to hit the big pay day and we love the rush of big time poker. 

Far too often, I see players win $30K or $40K and instead of staying at the same $200-$1,000 tournaments where they should be with that size of a bankroll, they jump to playing $2,500-$5,000 events.  They are on cloud 9 believing they are the best poker player since Stu Ungar (who went broke many times by the way).  

Disclaimer: I do know that $40K is technically not a large enough bankroll to regularly play in $1,000 events.  But its reasonable and we’re all going to do it so keep quiet.  If I go 0-40 then it is what it is. 

So do me a favor, if you are skilled and lucky enough to hit a nice payday and the $30K to $80K is your bankroll, don’t be dumb.  If you have to go to Vegas to get your fix, play in the $300, $500 or even $1,000 Venetian Deep Stack events or the Caeser’s Mega Stack tourneys.  These are fantastic and you’ll be exercising much better money mgmt.  

There’s no need to head straight to the Rio for the $2,500 WSOP prelims or the $5,000 NAPT or WPT events.  Yes you’re good, we get it, but after an 0-10 stretch which is very common you’ll be back to grinding the $65’s. 

Not to mention, the skill level is far less in the $300-$1,000 live tournaments where you should be able to enjoy success more often while still playing a solid structure.

4 Responses to “You Just Won a Big Tournament, Now What?”

  1. justin Says:

    Its not just the size of the buyin compared to our new found roll. Its also an incredible increase in the skill of the competition. Some of the bad players in a 1500 are better than some of the good players in a 500. This dramatically reduces our estimated return, which drives up the number of buyins we need on average to be successful, assuming we are still driving a positive ROI. Many players who move up suddenly after a big win are actually entering tournaments where they will be expected losers.

    I think one of the most important things about tournament poker is something that should be said of *all gambling*. Only play with money you can afford to lose. If you cannot easily shrug off the entry fee of the main event of a tournament, then you probably shouldnt even be playing satellites for it. If you are afraid of losing your buyin, you will have a hard time focusing on a top 3 result.

    Great advice bryan, and see you guys at the Aces MSPT. I will be there!


  2. Rich Edinger Says:

    Good blog and advice.

  3. 2-Putts Says:

    Great cousel on the bankroll management there, Bryan. I agreed with TP’s comment and yes, there’re some cockiness players here. They think they’re the “Man” but in the reality they don’t know what the heck they’re doing. Just like having sex, everyone think they’re the best at it but again don’t know what the heck they’re doing.

    I’m glad that I still have and holding on to my daytime job and play some small tourneys here and there on the weekends when I have time. These small buy in tourneys here locally are great anyway.

    2-Putts 🙂

  4. Rich Edinger Says:

    The lure of the big score in a tournament sucks in even the very good and great poker players. Instead of the goal of the Moneymaker type score/and or fame, most poker players should have more realistic goals and scores–Steve Badger type results. The fact of the matter is for 99% of poker players, making $20,000 to $30,000 (net income) yearly consistently is a great result! And is better than 99% of ALL players, including many famous pros.