Five Things You Should Know Before Entering a Poker Tournament

By  //  July 30, 2019

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If you’ve never played in a poker tournament before, it’s going to be scary. There’ll be a lot of noise, and everyone around will you know what they’re doing — or at least, act like they do if they’re inexperienced as well.

If you’ve never played in a poker tournament before, it’s going to be scary. There’ll be a lot of noise, and everyone around will you know what they’re doing — or at least, act like they do if they’re inexperienced as well.

Emotions might be running high, and you’ll be sitting shoulder to shoulder with professionals, who are there to win — they may not even say hello.

Of course, there are different types of poker, but, essentially, it’s much like playing poker at home. Flushes beat straights, for instance. The best hand on the river wins and if you lose all your chips, you’re out. Note that to play in some tournaments, you may also have to play in a qualifying tournament.

As frightening as all this may be, you don’t have to let it get to you. There are different ways to prepare so that come the day of the tournament, you bring you’re A-game! Here are five tips you need to know that will help you at the tournament:

1. Set a goal

What’s your goal? Do you want to win? Do you just want to be in the money? Being an amateur, the chances are you just want to win some money, rather than the whole tournament (but more power to you if you choose the latter!). Knowing what you want to achieve in the tournament will make a big difference in your strategy. You may decide to pace yourself more or go flat out, or make bigger bets or lower ones. It all depends on your strategy.

2. Wear layers

You’ll be spending long periods at the poker table, which could get uncomfortable. You could be either too warm or too cold, and you don’t want the resultant discomfort to distract you from the game.

If the temperatures distract the other players from their game and not you, though, that’s terrific! You don’t have to brace yourself for sub-zero temperatures or tropical ones but wear enough layers that you can adjust them if the room gets a little warmer or cooler.

3. Be aware of strategies other players might use

Remember, you’re not the only one who’ll be going into the tournament with a strategy. You might not be able to determine someone’s strategy by their face, but you’ll be able to develop an idea of their strategy or style by how they play.

Some players are quiet and will only raise when they have the cards to back it up — an effective playing style which sees observant players fold.

Other players are aggressive and, regardless of how many chips there are in front of them or of others, will try to bluff other players out of their chips by going ‘all in’ frequently. Their aggressive style leaves them open to bluffs from other players, though.

There are more impatient players, who like to play as many hands as possible in the game. They’ll call, but they won’t raise often, and they’re happy to sacrifice small bets so they can win big later.

Stretch out the hand with small bets to score against them. There are also players who know when to bluff, when to call and when to raise. Playing against these will be difficult, to say the least.

4. Study poker

You’re not going to come up against just amateurs in a poker tournament (if only!), so it would be best to put in some serious study.

Okay, there might be a bit of luck in the hand that you’re dealt, but poker is a game of strategy, so don’t think you’re going to get anywhere by just ‘winging it’. If you want to succeed, you’re going to have to put in the work.

There are lots of videos on YouTube and lots of articles you can read on the internet, but it’s better to be proactive and play poker. Learn how the game works, and familiarize yourself with the different poker terms. Join a poker group so that you can pick up hints and tricks from other players. You could even practice online with them.

Study hard, and you’ll have the know-how and the practice behind you to play a solid game. Learn to play aggressive, and you can bully other players at the table into folding.

5. Get aggressive

You can play as tight as you like, but you must know how to play aggressively (and when). That doesn’t mean glaring across the table at the player opposite you or taking a swing at them. You can be sure other players won’t be taking any prisoners, and if your chips are getting low in comparison to the blinds, it’s time to step up your game.

When you have a decent hand, you should raise and hope to steal. Note that when you raise, your hand should also be good enough to win if you get a call.

In the late stages, it’s better to raise or fold than to call. If making a standard raise after receiving a call would make the pot bigger than your stack, you’d be better off being aggressive and pushing pre-flop. The other player is likely to fold.

All the tips above will arm you with confidence when you go into the tournament. Decide your strategy, and you’ll be more decisive at the table.

Study hard, and you’ll have the know-how and the practice behind you to play a solid game. Learn to play aggressive, and you can bully other players at the table into folding.

Identify the strategies of other players and use the insight to your advantage. Wear the right clothing, and you can stay comfortable while the other players struggle with the temperature and, hopefully, their game. Apply these tips and go out and win!

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