Day 1: What if You Didn’t Play a Hand?

More poker-by-numbers in the WSOP main event

by , Jul 6, 2010 | 2:28 am

Had an interesting convo last night with @HeartlandPokerTodd (not his real twitter name, though it prolly should be) …

Todd Anderson from Fargo, North Dakota, bought into his first WSOP Main Event a few days ago, and we were talking about the value of chips acquired early in this $10k, long blind-levels, triple-stacked tournament. Before long we began to conclude that a player would be fine making it to Day 2 without playing a single hand. We couldn’t agree, however, on where that chipstack would be at the end of Day 1.

So here is my attempt to calculate it … feel free to disagree and/or disparage:

First, we needed an accurate assessment of how many hands get dealt per hour, or per “down” — dealer parlance for a half-hour.

Matt Savage, Executive Tour Director of the WPT, estimated that a good dealer gets out 40-50 hands per hour, though acknowledges that antes do slow it down a bit.

Team Pokerati player/dealer/part-time Venetian floor guy Harris (@85Nutz) worked the WSOP box from 2007-2009 — and was good enough to be a featured-table dealer, as well as a top-contender for Dealer of the Year last year (which he did not win – I call shenanigans!). He guesstimates 15-20 hands per down, or 30-40 per hour. He too points out that antes do slow it all down a bit, but how many hands exactly that bit is, I’m not so sure.

OK, so with that, I am going to use 40 as the number. And instead of dropping it down to 37 or 38 when the antes kick in at Level 4, I’m going to leave it at 40 to compensate for the periods where tables are 9- or 8-handed, and therefor moving a bit faster.

So now, using that figure, all we have to do is look at the structure sheet

As we know, players start with 30,000 chips.

They played 4.5 levels today –for a total of nine hours of action.

Level One is 50/100. During those first two hours, an empty seat loses 150 per orbit … so facing 8 orbits (80 hands), they’d sacrifice 1,200 chips.

Level Two is 100/200 … so that would cost an additional 2,400 chips.

Level Three is 150/300 … so that’s 3,600 more.

Now Level Four is where the antes kick in for 150/300 + 25 … so that would be 450+250 per orbit … 700×8=5,600

And Day 1 finished an hour into Level Five, where blinds are 200/400 + 50 … so that’s 1,100 per round, but only four of them, not eight … 4,400 more chips lost to the pot.

Follow my math … 30,000 – (1,200+2,400+3,600+5,600+4,400) = 12,800 chips going into Day 2, where the blinds continue at 200/400 + 50 for an hour, and then increase to 250/500 + 50 for Level Six

To give a bit of a range, if you expect more from your dealers (and players), at 50 hands per hour would leave a non-playing player with 8,500 going into Day 2.

But at a rate of 30 hands per hour, you’d still have 17,100 remaining.

Hmm, considering the disparity based on the quality and skill of dealers, you can see why many players complain and why casinos presumably look forward to the day when they can replace these workers with fully programable androids.

My real guess, btw, for average hands per hour on Day 1 was 38 … with that number dropping by 1 each day moving forward. But I went with 40 to keep the math simple, and because 38 really is just a guess. Regardless, I think you can feel confident that if you play zero hands on Day 1 you should end up with more than 10k chips, and fewer than 13k, for sure.

To understand more about what that means … 1,125 players entered Day 1, with 819 remaining. So the average stack amongst Day 1A players is currently about 41,200. These numbers could change a bit as the other Days 1 flatten out any variance … but they should give you a ballpark picture behind the meaning of stacks at the end of Day 1.

My pal Todd, as president of the Heartland Poker Tour, thinks about these sorta blind structure things often. He survived his Day 1A, and will return for Day 2A with about 43k in chips … slightly above average.

Probably good that he decided to play at least a few hands.

UPDATE: Jack Effel thinks the number should be fewer hands, which would leave you with more chips if you played none.

@WSOPTD @Pokerati roughly how many hands per down does a good dealer get out per down? 15 .20?~>15 depending on game pace – antes dont slow too much

6 Comments to “Day 1: What if You Didn’t Play a Hand? ”

  1. JamesDaBear

    wait a minute… if you knew you weren’t going to play a hand… why would you register on time?

  2. JamesDaBear

    or do you just get an empty stack that’s been blinded out when you late register?

  3. Harris

    At the WSOP it’s so dealer dependent, the best dealers get out the 40-50 an hour that Matt suggests however the bad ones only get out 20-25. The number slows down as you get deeper into the tourny because decisions become bigger and players take longer to act.

  4. JamesDaBear

    You’d also take more time yourself. It’s kinda stalling, but they won’t know the difference and it would buy you a couple hands an hour. Also… would set you up for when you do play your monster hand or flop a monster out of the bb in an un-raised pot. Wouldn’t the most effective thing to do here is shove pre with AA and any time you flop the nuts? Sure, you’re giving up a ton of value, but you’d pick up some extra chips along the way this way. If you let everybody know you didn’t plan on playing a hand before and then did this, there’s nobody at the table that would call you regardless of what they held.

    I think you can legitimately move that number upward a bit because of this.

  5. TD

    Fold aces preflop face up to play this strategy = instant legend

  6. DanM

    A little more data:

    @scarlet_lv @Pokerati On not playing a hand in d1: I dealt1b #wsop57. Player had not shown up by end of level 2. Counted his stack at break ~ 27,200.