Tournament tips

Apr 11, 2006 3:07 AM

Because I’ve been tied up with the World Poker Tour (WPT) in town, there’s just time enough for a few words about, you guessed it, playing in a tournament.

Now, "tournaments" can mean anything from single-table sit-and-go tourneys, to multi-table tournaments (MTT) to million dollar, high stakes tournaments such as the WPT at the Bellagio.

At the start of many large tournaments there are an abundance of inexperienced players ("poor players," if you will), who are often loose and reckless.

This can be dangerous for a good player because you never know what this type of player is going to call a hand with. Thus, be especially cautious at the start of a tournament and guard your chip stack.

My friend, professional player Chip Jett, once said he was in an online tournament and fell asleep. When awoke he found himself in third place, without ever having played a hand!

That’s an extreme example, but the point is you must be patient.

Secondly, you must constantly adjust your style to the escalating blinds. At the start, blinds are small and not as critical as they are later in the tourney. Thus, you don’t have to kill yourself defending your blinds — you may even want to "lull" a stealer to sleep by not defending fiercely at the outset, setting him up for a rude awakening later on.

Incidentally, the size of your stack will go a long way to determining your strategy. Many times, the most aggressive players have the biggest stacks at the end of the first day or round, but they find as they go deeper into the tournament they have to adjust to the better quality of players they’ll be facing.

I think that’s key throughout — the ability to adjust or "change gears" by switching from tight or conservative play to loose or aggressive play, as the situation demands.

Finally, play to win, not to just finish as high as possible. Tournament payouts are heavily weighted to the top three spots, so gun for the top spot. You’ll probably have to take some chances along the way, but by making the right decisions, you’ll have earned the right to be a little lucky!