Should I Stay or Should I Go

Stolen from The Clash, Should I Stay or Should I Go is more than the title of a great song. The song has been used in a famous Levi’s jeans commercial and is one of the most covered songs ever written. The song went to the top of the charts and reached number one ten years after it was released. The song was the only number one single ever by The Clash.

In my own life the song has come to be my personal anthem as I balance my personal relationship and my desire to be on the road playing poker. Every time an opportunity arises for me to go play a poker tournament I have to evaluate if I want to go play.

The email arrives and I open it and read through it once and either throw it in the trash or put it in my personal folder. The process takes just a few seconds. Why are some tournaments worth going to and others easily discarded? This is the question that has been asked.

Really the decision is a personal one and the criteria I apply to determine if a tournament merits consideration or is easily dismissed will not necessarily be the same for everyone. The criteria are really cost, value, benefit, location and opportunity.

This is exactly what I have from the email:
Spring Classic $20,000 Guarantee Poker Tournament
April 10th, 10am
If Poker is your passion, stop by and play in the Spring Classic $20,000 Guarantee Poker Tournament, become the Champion and receive TWO seats (non-negotiable, non-refundable, non-transferable) into Bellagio’s “NLH Super Satellite” for a chance to qualify for the “2010 WPT NLH Championship”.
Your $200 buy-in will get you $10,000 in chips. A $100 optional re-buy will get you an additional $5,000 in chips. As a bonus, if you pay the optional re-buy before the tournament begins you will receive an additional $2,000 in chips for a TOTAL of $17,000 in CHIPS. Book your seat now at the River Club, 1-800-280-UWIN or online at If you’re staying overnight! Call 1-800-HILTONS for discounted rates and reservations. All participants will receive $20 Slot Free Play and your non-refundable buy-in will reserve your lunch. See Poker room for complete details…

I quickly figure the cost of the tournament. My expenses will be $300 entry fee and 660 mile drive and one night in a hotel at an unknown rate. In my head it is quickly a cost of $600 to play the tournament.

The value of the tournament is not as easy to figure. Redding is an area where I like to play and within the distribution area of the newsletter I write for. I wonder if the casino is taking anything in the way of fees or if 100% of the buy-ins are going to the prize pool. The guarantee adds no value because the tournament will easily reach the guarantee. The two seats in the super satellite are causing more questions for me, are they added above and beyond the prize pool and guarantee? What is the value of the two satellites $2,000? The $20 free slot play and free lunch are definitely added value.
The benefit to me is that I could see some old friends in the Redding area. I would want to call and find out how many of my friends will be playing the tournament. If I won the tournament I would receive some notoriety but it would not be a huge benefit. There would be points toward the Northern California Player of the Year Award. I do not have any sponsors in the Redding area that would be interested in offsetting some of my costs or adding some benefits.

The location is nice and the weather is good in early April. The trip is easily drivable and could be a very long day trip with me leaving Fresno at 4 AM and returning after the tournament. Redding scores high for vicinity. The sight seeing and other tourist type opportunities do not make Redding a strong location. Redding scores low for attractions.

When I talk about opportunity in this context I am really referring to opportunity cost. What else would I be doing if I were not going to this tournament? If I already have plans to do something with my wife I probably do not have much opportunity to go play this tournament. Can I take time off from my day job? Is the day before a furlough Friday allowing me to travel leisurely the day before?

I looked at the information that was emailed to me and shook my head as I dragged the email toward the trash. The email could have been so much better and I would have probably filed it and followed up with a few questions. As my friend asked me to describe how I made such a quick determination that the email was trash worthy, I pondered for an extra second and the answer became this post. I clicked the link and went to the casino site and sadly the information was not there for me to quickly glance and decide to put more effort into finding the answers.

More than anything else the benefits to me in the way of friends were not high enough to drive my decision to attend the tournament. I would need to know that several of my old friends would be there and we could visit on Friday. The value of the tournament may be very high if all of the unknowns were to fall exactly right.

I will be playing in Reno March 31 through April 3 and spending Easter with my wife. The following weekend I will be staying home and not making the trip to Redding for the Spring Classic.


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