Another poker made millionaire aka. Poker lottery in a recession

I’ve noticed a somewhat disturbing trend over the past few years when I’m watching an episode of the World Poker Tour (WPT) on TV.

I’m not just talking about Vince Van Patten and Mike Sexton’s ubiquitous use of the words “wired pair” and “pocket pair”, no I’m talking about how often they use “Another poker made millionaire!” and how they make a point of really hyping up the fact that one or more of the players at the final table is “Just an average Joe off the street here playing for the ONE POINT TWO MILLION DOLLAR TOP PRIZE!”

Now I understand that they are paid to create some excitement, and that it’s a big deal to make a final table at any poker tournament, but they seem to be sending a real mixed message out there. At the same time they say how hard it is to make the final table, then turn it right around and point out that Joe Poker is playing in his first live tournament ever and that the “roofer by trade” stands to make more in this tournament than he does all year slinging hot tar.

Why does this concern me?

Well in these slightly rough economic waters (man I should write for Fox news) we are sailing along here, there are not doubt more and more people who are losing their jobs, and thus their way of making money. Sitting at the kitchen table watching TV in the middle of the day while looking through the classifieds they see the WPT on and say:

“Hey! If they can do it so can I!”

Well maybe I’m getting a bit too far ahead of myself here when I say that; entry into these tournaments is usually around $10,000. Most people out of work don’t have that kind of cash laying around to start up a poker career, but I’m sure there are more than a few people where the thought has crossed their mind. I mean why not?

$10,000 investment to make $1,000,000 or more?

What are your odds?

Well the last WPT event and Bay 101 had a little over 400 entries.

Hmmm…so about 400-1 then?

Hey, that’s not bad. What are the odds of winning the lottery?

About 14,000,000-1

Well, see, that’s a hell of a lot better odds than playing the lottery, I mean they don’t just pay out first place, the other guys get money too right?

Yeah you bet, at the Bay 101, the top 46 players got paid, starting at about $12,500 and working up to the grand prize of just over a million.

Top 10%? Well that’s a little bit harder, but still doable.

I always think of Charlie and the chocolate factory here, spending way more money than you have in order to take a long shot.

400-1 isn’t that much of a long shot man, I’m a pretty good poker player.

Well, standard bankroll management advice is that you never play in a MTT (Multi Table Tournament) with more that 2% of your poker bankroll. That means that you would have about $500,000 sitting in the bank to play these types of tournaments. Now I’m sure there are a bunch of pros out there that could lessen that amount as their skills allow them to cash in higher percentage of these tournaments, but the average person really needs to pay attention to the bankroll rules.

The upcoming WSOP in Las Vegas is going to have a bunch of lower buyin events this year and I’m sure there will be a number of people there hoping to take their shot and payoff their credit cards or upside down mortgages. I hope that they are only playing with what they can afford to lose, because as anyone that has played the game knows, skill is a big part of the game, but luck is the other one.

Be careful. I don’t want to see anyone ending up like Tom Joad from the Grapes of Wrath.

“With a one way ticket to the promised land
With a hole in your belly and a gun in your hand”


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