Seven reasons why you shouldn’t play live poker tournaments

I believe that poker tournaments played in a casino environment are now, more than ever, a bad gambling opportunity. Below I state my reasons. Agree or disagree with me in the comment section!



Some companies make billions and pay no taxes (General Electric, Facebook, Apple, Oracle, etc.). Tournament winners pay most of their prize as tax, except in UK which doesn’t tax gambling winnings. For example from this year’s WSOP final table winnings, IRS took approximately 8.5 million, meaning 34.13% (source)! You don’t get any tax deduction if you end the year with a loss at the poker table and the government doesn’t stake you, yet they take a share of your winnings. It makes no sense. Consider that when it comes to companies, only their profits are taxed. Live tournament poker players can’t be expected to have a positive expected value, similar to a company. One might lose 15 tournaments in a row ending the year with a huge loss, which is quite normal. They won’t be able to deduct these losses from other taxes that they owe and of course they won’t get a refund. Yet, if the next year ends with a profit, they’ll pay a huge chunk of it as tax.



The rake in live tournaments is huge. For example the rake of The Colossus, a tournament played this year, was $65 for every $500 buy-in! That means the organizers took home $1,454,310 for their effort, while the first prize was less than half, standing at around $600,000. Remember though, you’d have to pay taxes on that! To be honest, even the rake in online poker tournaments makes no sense. It should be way lower considering that companies like Pokerstars only support you with the software and their servers.



The blinds schedule and structure are such that the game becomes a crapshoot after a minimum of a few hours and it stays like that until the end, days later. So what if you’re a great player? The blinds will go up fast enough that it won’t matter. You’ll need to be a lucky player. Don’t fool yourself… I can teach a monkey how to play crapshoot poker, where you have less than 40 blinds. Everybody does it well enough. If you want to see how a complicated game looks like, try winning an amateur tennis tournament.



There are nine or ten people at each table and the game moves painfully slow. To finish in the money in a live tournament you’ll have to play a few days, 8 hours per day. Those that last only one day are not worth talking about because their blind structure is ALWAYS horrific. Staying so much in a chair is EXTREMELY bad for your health. Prolonged sitting has been linked with decline in insulin response (which causes multiple diseases), high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, increased risk for colon, breast and endometrial cancers, muscle degeneration, leg disorders, increased risk of mortality, decreased brain function and neck, back and shoulder problems. Go ahead, sit eight hours per day if your life doesn’t matter.



The meta is mapped out. You won’t find any chip donors at your table. Everybody will play well and most of the people will play as good as you. I’m sorry to hurt your ego but tournament poker is not a complicated game. Everybody can learn it at the highest level in five months tops and your advantage is non-existent. If you’ve won a lot of live tournaments, it either means that you’re playing too much or that you’ve been a luck sack. If you’re having chip donors at your table, maybe you should try tournaments with a buy-in higher than ten dollars.



The variance of live poker tournaments is wicked high compared to, for example, the much better alternative of online short-handed cash games. Allen Bari, a professional poker player, has explained that in live tournaments some players could experience even 10 years of great results and still not be any good. That’s because luck is way more important than skill in live poker tournaments.



Don’t expect a high income playing live tournaments. You’ll just be a factory worker. Any online short-handed cash game player and especially the ones playing heads-up will crush your earnings, even though they’ll probably play less and be equal to you in skill. You’ve chosen the wrong occupation.

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