In today’s Texas Holdem poker world, tournaments can be found in just about every country. You can play large tournaments or small buy-in tournaments just the same. The prize money has even increased as poker rooms chip in to raise the size of the prize pool to lure in new players. But how much do you really know about tournament poker? Are you really ready to play or just excited because it’s popular? Since Moneymaker won it all in 2003 the game has become wildly popular and it seems like everyone is playing some form of poker these days. Just because everyone is playing the game doesn’t mean they are all good players. That is where you can take advantage by being prepared to play the game.
Know the Structure
The first thing you need to do before you pull out a wad of your hard earned cash is know exactly what the structure is for the tournament you intend to play. This means everything to you because it will somewhat dictate your approach to the game and how much risk you need to take in order to be successful. Basically there are two types of tournaments. There are fast tournaments where the blinds increase rapidly and the time between levels is below thirty minutes and there are slow tournaments that are just the opposite. The blinds increase slowly and the levels are anywhere from 30 minutes up to 2 hours. Usually slower paced tournaments will attract a higher caliber of poker player and also cost more to buy into.
Be Honest about your Game
Being honest about how well you play the game of poker sounds relatively straight forward. But we all have seen the guy that talks the most being the first one to bust out of the tournament. You really need to ask yourself a few questions before you plunk down your buy in. Those questions should include:
- What is the skill level of my competition?
- Can I realistically compete in this format and structure?
- Can I afford to buy into this tournament without hurting my bankroll?
If the answer to all three of those questions is yes then by all means pull up a seat and start building your stack. Too many players overestimate their ability to compete in tournaments. This is particularly true in slow structures where skill is much more of a factor. Many online players are used to playing fast paced sit n go’s and have been very successful. However, when you are sitting with $10,000 in chips and the blinds are $50/$50 with one hour levels you need to be capable of playing small pot poker. That is not the typical environment for most online players and some have difficulty playing in space.
I cannot emphasize this point enough. In order to win a poker tournament, particularly a live tournament, you have got to be capable of profiling players and being very accurate in your assessment of their play. This may sound easy but you would be surprised at how many poker players do not put the time in studying their opponents the way they should. When you sit down at the table and are not involved in a hand there are plenty of things to do to keep the game entertaining and your mind occupied. Profiling is your primary activity. You need to be involved in every single hand from a mental aspect. Paying attention at show down, watching betting patters and listening to your opponents banter are just a few of these activities.
If you are going to buy into a tournament and really make it worth your while it only makes sense to be prepared when the times comes for the cards to hit the felt. You will be glad you did.