Let's get something straight right off the bat.
This is not an article where poker pro Andrew "luckychewy" Lichtenberger tells you when you should or shouldn’t "late reg" for a poker tournament.
The intent is to explain the thinking behind a pro's decision to late register for low buy-in WSOP events.
Why pitch this at the beginners strategy level? Understanding the thought process of someone who is better at what you do always helps, irrespective of the subject matter.
I used to think that it was an ego-based decision, the pro was being dismissive and was just turning up late through a lack of disrespect. And there may be some people who do that.
Andrew Lichtenberger isn’t one of them.
Show Up on Time for Poker Tournaments
Show up on time, beginners.
My advice for the beginner player is to show up on time whatever the tournament. It’s important in life to be punctual. It sets the right tone for many other aspects of your life.
You also need the experience at all levels of the game and you're missing out on this if you decide to register late. Lichtenberger had been late regging the $1,000 and $1,500 events at the 2014 WSOP though and I wanted to know why.
“Last year I pushed myself really hard, turned up on time as much as I could and grinded every day. It didn’t work out for me.At the end of the summer I got really burned out, got sick and didn’t want to be there.
“I’m not giving up that much value by missing the early levels, and I am ok giving up some value in the lower level tournaments in order to maintain my longevity, and my composure, for the bigger buy-ins.
"If I wake up, and it’s early, and I feel good, then I will come and play. But if I want to go for a hike, sleep in or chill that’s cool too.
“I know there is value to be had in the lower levels, but after my experience last year, I can’t justify pushing too hard, if I know it’s going to lead to my demise.”
What's the Cost of Your Longevity?
Lichtenberger is looking at the bigger picture. Not too many beginner players come to the World Series and play 35+ events, so it’s easy to see how this doesn’t apply to us.
Longevity matters too.
In Lichtenberger’s case it’s important that he comes away from the end-to-end World Series feeling fit and healthy.
It’s also important that he is fresher in the bigger buy-in events because these are going to mean more to him because of his bankroll and status in the game.
“It’s the Main Event primarily. It’s the last tournament of the series. You hope to do really well, and play for a week or a week and a half, so setting yourself up for that is really important to me.
"Last year, I was exhausted mentally and physically. My body wasn’t getting what it needed and this compromised my mind, but I have learned from that experience.”
Lichtenberger touched on the word ‘value’ earlier in the conversation and I asked him to expand upon his thought process.
“If you look at your actual win rate for the earlier levels, it’s going to be larger in terms of big blinds than it will be later. But also the big blind represents a substantially smaller portion of your stack, or the overall chips in play, than it will later.
“Say, you have a 100% ROI maybe I sacrifice 10% of it by showing up late. I’m ok with costing myself $100 to maintain my longevity.”
The Limits of Late Registration
What is Lichtenberger’s view on the limits of late registration?
“It seems like they won’t make it to the point where you can register with 1bb. Like now, the cut off is 10bb.
"The first one I played I finished the day with 63bb. I knew it was clearly the right option for me, to not force myself to be there 12 hours a day 7 days a week.
“It’s a pick and choose type of situation. I don’t fault people for wanting to have the full-on immersive experience, get stuck in and enjoy every moment.
"That’s what I tried last year, but this year I am trying a different tactic and it’s working for me.”
So how would Lichtenberger act if he were playing an EPT or WPT?
“If it was just a week-long series then I would be here every day from start to finish. So for an EPT I would do that. The fact I can relax and restore my ability, after that week, makes a huge difference to me so I nearly always register on time for EPT and WPT events.”
What’s his view on the decision by some tournament organizers to allow players to register as late as Day 2 with around 30bb?
“I would turn up on time for these because I think to do otherwise is giving up too much value in the early levels.”
If you're happy you win either way.
If You're Happy With Your Approach, You Already Win
How does his bankroll affect his decision to register late?
“It definitely plays a role. If I weren’t doing as well then I would be more inclined to show up earlier because the bigger buy-ins would be less important in that case.
“About the money I think I am kind of in the minority, because I do play poker for the money but I'm not nearly as attached to the money as some.
"I think if I go out and do my best, am critical on my play during the downtime, and stay sharp and do my best to cultivate my poker ability, I don’t mind if I don’t win.
"I have already won because I am happy with my approach. Whatever happens I am OK with.”