I stumbled across a conversation on Twitter this week about a player selling action in a large comp.
From what I could understand, it was a $5k buyin live tournament, and the player in question was a serious and winning low-stakes online player, but was not a usual high-stakes live tournament player.
The player was good enough that he was staked online, and had won the $5k seat in a satellite. His “stable” was selling 60% of the action (and covering all expenses for the player).
The debate arising from the offer to sell action (which was quickly snapped up) was why the low-stakes qualifier was bothering to sell action at all.
The argument against him selling pieces was that he had satellited into the comp from a low buyin, so why wouldn’t he just take the shot at the big money?
The argument for him selling some shares in himself was that if he’d won $5k cash from his normal buyin level, he wouldn’t just use it to play a $5k comp, so why wouldn’t he attempt to reduce his potential loss in a tournament where he might be out of his depth?
I can see both sides of the argument, and I suppose his backers want to sell the action because either way they make some money! It did make me wonder if they were advertising a lack of faith in him, but as a player whom no-one would sensibly want to stake, it’s fair to say I’m not sure how all that works.
In the same week as I came across this Twitter debate, I accidentally registered for a $22 WPT Ireland feeder on Party Poker and won a $215 ticket for the package final to a €1100 event. I would not normally aspire to that level of buyin because I would be further out of my depth than a guy swimming the Channel in inflatable armbands.
I’ll be in too deep in the $215 satellite, let alone the main event, but it got me to thinking that if I somehow bink this WPT package, should I be trying to sell action, and would anyone want to buy it?
My gut feeling is that a micro player like me should not try to sell action, and since I’d be going to WPT Ireland for a total of $5, I should see it as a $5 tourney/holiday, have a good time, and if, by virtue of some miraculous Godrun, I end up cashing for anything, be ecstatically happy and spend the money on fast cars and slow women.
I also have to factor in the extra pressure of playing “with someone else’s money” because I am not used to it. One of the reasons I like poker is that I am “Team Me” and no-one else has any right to have any opinions on what I do with my chips when I sit in any tournament I play; I might feel differently if I was riding on someone else’s backing.
In addition, who would actually want to back me? I’m all for supporting low-stakes online players, and actively recommend satelliting into tournaments that are significantly above your normal stake (although I think anything above 100xnormal buyins is slightly ambitious), but I still wouldn’t financially back an online micro-player in a $1000 live tournament, so how could I expect anyone to back me?
I asked the question on Twitter and got a few, contradictory responses.
In general, people seemed to agree that somebody, somewhere would buy my action, not because it was a good bet, but because people make bad bets all the time, and so they’d probably invest in me.
That makes sense, people do love a punt, so I have to assume that people will buy a slice of me if I ever choose to sell some, but how do I decide whether I want to sell my ropey action?
There were some comments that suggested I shouldn’t bother, because the point of poker is to win big, and being a micro-qualifier into a decent buyin event is, however long, a shot at some big money.
One Twitter acquaintance took the time to give me a fairly in depth analysis of the question (thanks very much to @sagedonkey). His suggestion was that by selling a maximum of 25% of action I would already be in profit on the endeavour… this did not sit well with me.
On the face of it, it makes perfect sense, why wouldn’t I want to take the opportunity to have a nice holiday and be guaranteed profit, even if I bust out on the first hand?
Somehow, it didn’t seem very moral. Unless I’m missing something, that strategy equates to me having minus risk and my friends/followers/supporters having some risk, however small. That doesn’t seem fair.
I can hear poker players everywhere scoffing at my insistence on “fair”, after all, when is poker ever “fair”?
Moral? Pshaw! It’s up to other people to make their own decisions, and if I directly profit from that, so be it!
I just can’t shake the feeling that it isn’t right, good and moral that I make a guaranteed profit whilst risking other people’s money. Maybe this is an indicator that I am not cut-out for poker, and should spend the time volunteering in a hospice if I’m so concerned with “morals”.
I’m a big believer that the game of poker only survives if all players, at all levels, only look to screw each other over with good play, at the tables; anything outside that is a form of cheating, however gentle, so the argument for automatically making profit did not sway me.
The valid point was made that if I was to sell action to the right backer, I might be in line for some free coaching/game development from said backer as they attempt to protect their investment.
That sounded great to me, as guidance from a more experienced player is always valuable, whatever your usual stakes.
The problem is that I wonder how many serious and skilled players would actually invest in someone like me, outside a kind of pity orientated vote of confidence. If a good player is investing money in me to show support, would they really be inclined to also invest time in me? I have to expect not; time is more valuable than money, and $20 on a long shot punt is one thing, but several hours given over to coaching a micro-tard for a $1000 buyin event is quite another.
While I’d love some free coaching from a poker genius, I really don’t want a load of players at my level, or even below my level, chirping up with advice and helpful hints because they feel entitled to do so cos they chucked a pony my way. I’m not trying to be a bitch, but I can make standard micro-player mistakes myself, I don’t need to adopt anyone else’s! I think I’d find it distracting or confusing at best, and actively detrimental at worst.
I was also told a story of a micro-player who sattied into a big comp, panic-sold 70% of his action and then cashed for multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars! Of course, he regretted selling such a large chunk of himself in that particular case, and I think I would feel exactly the same in his situation.
I don’t know what the “correct” approach is, I don’t know what the mathematically savvy approach is, and I don’t know whether I should be thinking about larger buyin live tournaments in a very different way; I should probably have done more research before I even played my first satellite.
Thing is, I just don’t care!
If I bink a WPT Ireland package, I’m not even going to try to sell any bit of it. I’m going to waddle over there, drink tap Guinness, possibly offend some locals with my dodgy Irish accent and have a bloody good time.
I’ll play the comp for which I’m not at all qualified and, no doubt, love it, even when I bust before the money.
If I cash in any big, live tournament I micro-sneak into, then all profits will be mine, and all losses will be minimal and affordable, which is the way I like to play poker.
Sometimes I think it’s important to focus less on optimum life strategy, and just live; and as I like to say at least five times a day: “Gamble. Gamble. Gamble.”.