Is Flip & Go profitable?

flip go

Last week I tried out the new format Flip & Go from GGPoker and came to the conclusion it will prove popular. Yes the first part is a gamble but as somebody who likes end game poker and doesn’t like playing long sessions, it really suited me.

I also posited that while the first stage is almost pure gambling, the fact that it attracts gamblers probably makes the end game section profitable for those who understand ICM. So I reached out to PokerStrategy’s own ICM Guru Collin Moshman to see if he agreed:

There’s limited edge in these tournaments given the initial flip and 5% rake at most buy-ins. On the ‘flip’ side, they appear soft and there’s potential for players to make ICM mistakes with the early rebuy strategy. So I do think they’re likely beatable.

The discard stage is still skill based

I was expecting the Flip stage to be carnage but when I played them I found that there was a lot more decision making involved than some would think. The discarded card and knowing the other player’s cards meant that you actually needed a reasonable understanding of equity and blockers to avoid a big mistake. Our regular columnist Dara O’Kearney has been coaching players on his new format and he agrees:

The flip stage is probably not as gambley as some might think, because you not only have to discard your card but you can also see the three cards everyone else is dealt. You’ll know how many of your outs are dead and this should inform your decision. You will see a lot of players make the mistake of going with their best two hole cards without considering whether they have a live hand or not.

flip go
The discard stage is more strategic than some may think

The buy-in strategy is everything

I also quizzed Dara on the buy-in strategy itself, you can buy in for one to ten starting stacks in the Flip Out stage. A big stack makes it more likely you proceed to the next round, a small stack maximises your ROI, so which is better?

The bigger strategic consideration than the discard stage, believe it or not, is how many stacks you buy-in for. The bigger your stack the more likely you are to progress to the next stage but there is an ICM penalty to buying in big. It goes back to a fundamental principle of ICM which is the more chips you have, the less each one is worth. You may win the flip stage more often with a big stack but it costs you more in equity long term.

It currently takes 30 minutes between games and employing a low buy-in strategy would mean that you bust out right away 95% of the time. Humans have a frequency bias and it’s hard to stomach losing that often. It probably means that Flip & Go is a good game to throw in towards the end of a session rather than focussing all your efforts towards, because you will be disappointed so often.

flip go
How much you buy-in for is a key strategic consideration

I do still believe that the game is profitable because there will be so many people in the end game stage who normally would never make it that far. I’ll give the final word to Dara:

They will be massively profitable in the short term if you have the right buy-in and discard strategy, then when you make the money you will be up against weaker opposition than in a tournament where people had to play poker to get there.

Is Flip & Go profitable? Let us know in the comments:

Barry Carter

Barry Carter

Barry Carter is the editor of and the co-author of The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2, Poker Satellite Strategy and PKO Poker Strategy

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