Is it still possible to make a living playing online MTT's?
A couple of days ago, Gobbo posted this thread
in HSMTT. So far, it's gotten a couple of hundred very mixed replies; it's basically impossible to come up with a consensus opinion.
I haven't posted in it because I've been meaning to write a blog entry on the subject for a while now. I've written a few things about the variance in here already, but things have changed a little bit since then and there's a few variables that complicate the situation. I find the way my mind works best is to make a big list of all the things I think are true and go through them one at a time, so without further ado:
1)ROI's have dramatically dropped in the last three years. This isn't all because the games have gotten tougher, although they have - people also play a lot more tables. Hourly rates might've gone up for the top % of people willing to put in tons of volume, but it's hard to 16 table everything and keep your ROI intact, so chances are most of the HSMTT crew just logs more variance for approximately the same profits.
2)"High stakes" have become higher. There used to be only a handful of $100+ MTT's on any given night. Now, a dedicated MTT pro playing 25 tourneys a day can spend 2-3K in buyins on a Thursday-Saturday, 5K+ on a Monday-Wednesday (with the different 1K MTT's) and well over that on a Sunday. Some of the increase is from the different 1K entry fee tourneys, which are their own problem; because they are 5x a regular buyin, they are their own variance category and it's entirely possible to drop 50K a year just on them while being +EV in them.
3)Live tourneys eat money like crazy, and, because everyone is backed for them, they eat online money, too. A few dozen online grinders a year win a million dollars (-50% for the backers, who, incidentally, often lose money too); the rest break even or lose their online EV. If live tourneys were free to travel to, this wouldn't be such a big deal, but they aren't. It's hard to beat a 25%+ vig when you only have about 50 $1500+ tries a year (and that's if you're at the WSOP or travel the circuit full time).
4)Fields in the biggest MTT's have gotten larger. That's great for poker, but it does increase variance, too. I originally built my roll off MTT's that paid mid-four to mid-five figures for first with 100-500 entries. There are still plenty of those around, but they're not the cachet events they used to be; people want to play the big ones, which now have twice that amount. Even if your ROI goes way up as a result of extra dead money, it's harder to win a Sunday Mil with 8K entries than the one I won with 4600.
5)Structures have changed in a way that increases variance, as well. Party used to have no antes! Don't get me wrong - this was *not* a good thing - but more money in the pot to fight over rewards pushing light, which rewards calling light, etc. An (my guess) unintended side effect in the triumph of 'good' tourney structures, which create spots for some postflop play a few hours in, is that pushbotting is now more correct, driving the variance up. In addition, 2+2 now loves 'unexploitable' play like shoving 33 in MP for 30 BB's, creating far more huge, unavoidable coinflips late in the game.
All this has combined to make it harder to make a living [u]playing the major sites' major offerings[/u]. It is still entirely possible/easy to make a nice amount of cash playing on Cake, Bodog and (ugh, I guess) Cereus every night, mix in some minors on FTP to go with the $100, 200 entry 5K for first tourneys you play on the other sites, spend 6 hours a night doing this and collect money - those games are still incredibly soft and that won't change. (I don't bother with them because I've felt like my skills have stagnated and I'm enjoying playing cash right now, but w/e.) But MTT's are still gigantic luck fests; your yearly ROI is a function of how well you ran in a handful of late game situations, or, to put it another way, your entire profit for a year is probably your 1-5 top scores that you inevitably got to by sucking out at some point. When the field in those MTT's that have the largest first place prize is tougher, the pushbotting starts earlier and lasts longer, and you're playing 15 other tourneys, too, you're going to have much longer dry stretches and they're going to be much harder to overcome.
tldr: the name of the game is now game selection.