Why you Should Avoid Crapshoot Poker Tournaments

luck spelt out

In todays online poker world, there are more variants and formats I care to think about. Whilst they are good for poker in general, by keeping poker exciting and inviting new people in, there are downsides too. One such drawback is that there appears to be an abundance of crapshoots around. In this post, I’m going to explain what a crapshoot is,  why they are popular but most importantly, list reasons why they should be avoided.

What is a crapshoot?

A crapshoot is a tournament event where luck is the primary feature, not skill, due to the blind structure. This could be because the increments are large and skip usual levels, shallow starting stacks, or fast blind levels.

Why are crapshoots popular online?

Its worth remembering that tournament structures aren’t listed as “crapshoot” in tournament lobbies. Most recreational players don’t investigate a blind structure when they enter an event. Many crapshoot events online are given snappy titles and are clever marketing ploys to generate tournament traffic.

Lucrative prize-pools

They may also have a guaranteed prize pool attached, which again draws interest from players. When you know a tournament will have at least $10,000 in the pool versus one that is currently only registering $2,500 worth, most will pick the higher one regardless of the starting stack.

They’re convenient

Lastly, a lot of the poker playing community are regular people with limited time to play. Whether its British, French or New Zealand gambling, most people are confined to a limited amount of time for social gambling. A crapshoot tournament is typically over with within a few hours and is extremely convenient. For many players, convenience is the determining factor when choosing games to play so can you blame them for playing a turbo tournament over a deep stacked event?

Whilst guaranteed prizepools, catchy names and a quick finish tournament can be appealing to some, there are several convincing arguments why crapshoots should be avoided for serious players, as per my reasons below.

Crapshoot tournaments aren’t going to improve you as a poker player. They very quickly become all-in fests which mean you only need to understand push/fold poker. Whilst this is an important skill to develop, its only a small part of Texas Hold’em. Pre-flop action is only 25% of a complete poker hand so anyone who is exclusively playing turbo type events are missing out on so much.

Like it or lump it, luck, or variance is a part of poker that can’t be avoided. However, you can mitigate its impact by carefully choosing games that suit your skill set. By playing crapshoot tournaments you are going to see a lot of volatility in your results. For mentally strong players, this isn’t a problem. But, truthfully, this is probably less than 5% of the poker playing community.

Most poker players deal with bad runs poorly, it impacts their game and their bankroll in a bad way. Therefore, for most people, embracing high variance poker formats isn’t going to be the right move.

I’ve coached players before that play crapshoot events from time to time. They argue it lets them let off steam and its just a bit of fun, however, there is a darker element to it. By regularly playing crapshoot poker formats, it encourages wilder and unnecessary plays that can creep into other sessions. This can harm a players win rate significantly.


I may have come across pretty harsh in this post but I want my readers to my pro-actively play formats that benefit them. Dedicating time and money to crapshoot events is fine for those of you who have limited choices when playing poker, but for many of you that want to develop their game and earn well, stick to slower formats. Even if the name isn’t as catchy and the prizepool as juicy, the long-term rewards will be worth it!

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: info@texasholdemquestions.com