All year round, poker players wait expectantly for the summer, to pack their bags and head out to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. In the world of online poker MTTs, by contrast, players wait for autumn. Rather than chasing glory at the Horseshoe, Paris, the Venetian, or the Wynn, players will attempt the same at their desks, kitchen tables and living room couches. Right now, every major site offering online poker for real money boasts massive guarantees for their MTT championships. PokerStars launches the 2023 edition of their prestigious World Championships of Online Poker or WCOOP this Sunday. This series will run concurrently with the already running WSOP online on GGPoker and OSS XL series on ACRPoker. Plus, the all-new WPT Global Fall Festival will also be running, attempting to claim some market share from the legacy sites.
Across the online poker globe, hundreds of millions of dollars will be awarded to some lucky aliases for their skill, determination, and love of the gamble. In light of that, we’ve put together some of the online MTTs best kept secrets to help you prepare for this special season of tournament poker action.
There is so much opportunity during a series that it’s easy to get lost in the fray. Before you get started on your series journey, first decide what you want to accomplish. Leaderboards? Specific dollar figure? Specific brand of trophy?
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to commit the whole month to playing, you could chase the leaderboards. In this case, you would build your schedule around games that qualify for points. It comes with its own sacrifices as you may have to play games not in your regular wheelhouse, whether including PLO, mixed games or different stakes than you’re used to.
Money, Badges and Trophies
There are few times a year that you’ll have as many chances to score big in online poker as you can in September-October. Are you trying to beat a personal best? Then look at the guarantees of the games you are considering and see if going deep would scratch the itch. If you are dreaming of your first 5+ figure score, you might want to pass on the smaller stuff with lower guarantees.
Or, perhaps, you really want a specific brand of trophy. For example, GGPoker gives badges to its series winners, visible on player profiles and avatars. If you win an online bracelet event, you’ll receive a real WSOP bracelet. PokerStars provides badges but will also send WCOOP winners physical trophies. And you could claim an official WPT Prime title or even a WPT title via the aforementioned WPT Global events. If these are drivers, you may want to focus your volume on one site so to give yourself the most chances.
Managing Your Resources
Now that you know what you are trying to gain and accomplish with your online poker play in the course of this peak autumn season, it’s time to allocate your resources.
There’s no competing in online poker tournaments without the buyins. The fact of the matter is big fields are going to majorly disappoint all but less than 1% of runners. It’s easy to go broke going for the big money, so plan your schedule accordingly. You might feel the urge to re-enter a second, third and fourth time but those re-entries can add up, putting you out of action for the remainder of the series.
It’s tremendously easy to FOMO-register everything on the schedules and have too many tables running to play your best poker. An online poker series is a marathon, not a sprint. Be careful not to overdo it. Pace yourself with your money. Start with exactly how many tables you know can play well and limit your registrations to that capacity. Think about your overall schedule, then break that down by the week and only then by day. Build your dollar spend around your planned schedule to maximize your chances at success.
Time and Energy
Full-time professional poker players should prepare for burnout. Even a player who is running well will experience decision fatigue and the impact of being sedentary 10+ hours a day. Find a way to keep active in order to keep your energy levels up. Since variance is brutal in big fields, the downswings that come with the chase of a big score can be emotionally and psychologically draining. Volume is key to getting out of a downer, but bad volume will only exacerbate it. You’ll need to eat and rest well. Make a plan for your hourly 5-minute breaks before your day starts. Plan to take days off. Remember, you need your best self at the end of a tournament, when the biggest money is at stake. Plus, you’ll want to be in top shape coming into the Main Event weekend at the end of a series. Like protecting your bankroll, preserving energy is a huge edge.
Most poker players aren’t full-timers. For the bi-vocational hopeful, the good news is that weekends offer the biggest tournaments and provide the most value. If you are limited with time, protect your Sundays. If you are willing to use time off to play a little more, be specific about which days those are. Look at the schedules beforehand to figure out which midweek events you don’t want to miss and whether you need one or more days to commit to them.
Accept the Risks; Enjoy the Game
The poker community is one of the most generous in the world. Players come together, putting up big sums of money to make one person rich. We call it a donation because we are going to walk away with nothing very often. We will build up a contending stack and run deep in events with life-changing prizes up top, only to have our hearts ripped out by a cruel dealing of hands, an unlucky runout or worse, our own blunders.
Poker is a game and should be fun. Enjoy the process. Once you have your schedule laid out and know what you’re risking, accept the worst possible outcome before you start. That way anything better than zero feels like a win. Remember, we are not entitled to win. We are entitled to play. And play we will.