I was having a discussion with some people on a poker forum a few days ago about just what it took these days to win a large field poker tournament with several thousand entries. I have always prided myself on being an accomplished poker player but I just don’t feel that I have the game to wade through huge fields of several thousand players. Let us break down a field of 2000 players into a microcosm of a ten player single table where each player started with T1500 in chips.
Now there are certain things that you can control in a poker game but most of what actually happens in it is largely out of your control. In fact it is this assumed control that can cause tilt with many players because they wrongly believe that they have more control over events than they really have. This applies even more in cash games but that is largely a different story and so we will leave it there. However let us say that in this fictional but all too realistic one table tournament that you started out playing fairly solidly.
Now let us say that two players became involved with each other and one player was eliminated, this would automatically mean that one player now had T3000 in chips which is double your stack. If another two players were involved in an all-in as well then this would mean that two players would have a stack of T3000 while your own stack would have probably eroded down to around T1400. So you have done nothing wrong but already two players have a stack that is more than twice the size of your stack. You may be now closer to the money because two players have been eliminated but you are further away from first place than you were at the start in terms of chip position.
Now let us say that this event happens again with two players getting involved with each other and then the two big stacks also get involved with each other. Suddenly someone has a stack of T6000 while you have around T1300. Couple this with blind increases and suddenly your stack doesn’t have too many big blinds left in it. This is despite the fact that you have done nothing wrong whatsoever and just played normal solid poker. The fact of the matter is that the cards and the situations just didn’t fall your way.
Now if we compound that to a large tournament and multiply that effect by several hundred fold then it is clear to see that in many occasions you will simply never have the chance to go deep in a big tournament and final table it. I have often argued that thousands upon thousands of tournament players that frequent these large events simply do not have a winning style. By “winning” then I am referring to a style that is capable of actually winning the tournament and not just going relatively deep.
Many otherwise “good” tournament players tend to only get their really good results in smaller fields where variance is less of a factor and there are far fewer “gamblers” in the field. As a solid tournament player then you will always struggle to deal with the collective mass of “gamblers” and loose players coupled with strong tournament players who are not afraid of variance and busting out early. This means that the sad fact is that many otherwise very capable poker players simply do not have the optimal style to win poker tournaments with several thousand players in them.