As a recreational player, it can be hard to know what to do when joining a poker tournament, especially if this is your first time. From a functional morning routine to ensuring an excellent mental state, we have come up with ten tips that you need to know before joining a tournament and investing your hopes and savings:
#1 Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts are everywhere, and even professional poker players find them useful. Each episode has a strategy segment where the presenter explains a concept, breaking down into valuable bits of information you can later use for yourself. Thinking Poker Podcast is an excellent example of a podcast that will make you feel differently about the way you approach hands -offering high-quality advice on how to prepare, from a theoretical and practical point of view.
#2 Set goals
Whether you’ve joined a nightly turbo tournament at your local casino or whether you’ve entered a national competition with thousands of players, you need a goal before you confirm your seat in the tournament. Of course, you might have the goal of winning it all, but try to go for something a bit more specific then “I want to be the first”.
Similar to other circumstances in life, it’s great to have mini-goals, and reward yourself for mini-achievements. After you’ve reached the first few, you can go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate what you can get out of the tournament. This tip might also help you pace yourself and minimise the risk of making any rash decisions during the first few levels.
#3 Know and understand odds
A great hand selection is always helpful, but you will also find situations where a well-timed bluff can win you a seriously sweet pot. When bluffing, ensure that you think of the bigger picture –meaning you should be sure that your story adds up or makes sense. Otherwise, a smart and well-prepared opponent will see through it.
#4 Avoid Tilting
It’s essential to be aware that opponents will use your emotions against you, and that can ultimately result in bad decisions and lost money. Yes, tilting and steaming are everyday occurrences, but keep your goal in the back of my mind at all times.
#5 Get Rest
During the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event, one of the players, Phil Ivey, barely got any rest. This may, potentially, be a style which suits this professional player, but that’s not always the case –lack of sleep can lead to aggressiveness, a short temper, and other mixed emotions that will give others the upper hand. Always make sure your eating and sleeping pattern is tip-top.
#6 Running bad
If you are one of those online poker players, who has gotten a bad run of card over what seems like forever, then join the club. Running bad can come unexpectedly, and yet, many professional players can get out of the unfortunate spell and win. In these circumstances, you have two choices: either sulk or make the most out of the situation. Playing poker doesn’t mean that you will forever get a consistent result, and there are a couple of techniques that you can try out.
Unfortunately, only a select few poker guides focus on how you can achieve an excellent mindset, but some do go to great lengths to ensure that you have the right mental mind frame to deal with the potential risk. Keep your emotions in check and try to be as neutral as possible –that includes any conversation with other players.
#7 Take a break from online poker
Experiencing a bad run can be demoralising, and it can be helpful to sometimes take a break, especially before a big poker tournament. This strategy is used to avoid tilt as well, and you’ll only need a couple of days to cool off and recover.
Alternatively, you may enjoy facing adversity, and we’ll take our hat off to you –suggesting that you continue as usual and bluff your way out of the scenario.
#8 Dress code
As minor as you might think this is, players should also think about their dress code before a tournament –purely because being too cold or too hot could potentially mess up with technique as well. Moreover, other players will react differently to you. For example, sweatpants and headphones might indicate a “grind mode”, one where you’re only interested in making aggressive moves –high risk, high gain.
#9 Patience, Young Skywalker
Just before the start of any tournament, there is one thing we recommend keeping in mind: you’ve paid good money to get into this event, so the least you can do is have a good time. This means taking your time with your decisions, playing as tightly as possible in the beginning and then loosening up as you get to the later levels.
Not only will you get a higher value for your money, but you might even relax and feel less pressured during those tricky situations in which you don’t know how to proceed. In fact, make sure you don’t get caught up in big confrontations or drama -unless you have a really big hand and think you can win.
#10 Understand that you might need to play Shorthanded
If you’ve made it past the first levels, you’ll inevitably play short-handed, which means that you’ll only have a handful of opponents at the table. This progression will require that you play more aggressively, and will force you not to be too picky with your cards.
For example, if you wait for 15 cards to get the right hand that will punish your opponents, you will have gone through your stack (paying the blind at least four or five times), meaning that you might not win big at all.
There you have it, the top 10 tips you should be mindful of before joining a poker tournament. Remember, there’s no need to rush yourself, as risking too many chips during the first levels is a real possibility –especially for the more inexperienced players who have yet to be exposed to big poker tournaments.