Win your share of poker tourney pots!

Sep 8, 2009 5:08 PM
Back in the Saddle by Johnny Hale |

The University of Oklahoma was derailed by BYU last weekend on their way to winning a national championship. I guess for the Sooners it will be later.

I am a lifetime member of the alumni association of the University of Oklahoma. After World War II, I went to the University of Oklahoma from 1946 through 1952 to attain my degree in civil engineering.

Too little to play on the football team while going to Oklahoma, I enjoyed the poker games at Jeff House (the athletic dorm at OU). It was fun and profitable to play poker with the players of those great teams.

But I think you tuned in to hear a little bit about poker, so today I am going talk to you about: How to win poker tournaments.

I used to have about 50 or 60 rules for winning poker tournaments – but over the years I’ve pared them down to only three.

First, you must have enough money to get into the tournament.

The second requirement is you must have enough courage to go broke on every hand.

The third requisite is you must have enough luck so your best hands will stand up, and so with an inferior hand, you can outdraw your opponents.

You have to be luckier than they are at least two or three times in the tournament. Money, courage and luck – these are the three things I think you need to win a poker tournament.

Now let me recall some of the other good rules I followed when I first began to play tournament poker.

First, you should prepare yourself like an athlete. I remember the second year I played in the World Series of Poker at Binion’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas. I went to Hawaii about three weeks before the tournament, to the garden isle of Kauai where very few people live.

My wife Carol and I went backpacking through the mud and the slosh in the tropical jungle there, climbing high into the mountains where we ate a nourishing lunch. I was training myself to become accustomed to solitude, getting my mind right and improving my ability to focus.

And I was getting oxygen – you know, if you’re drowning in the ocean and you deprive your brain of oxygen for 10 minutes or so, you’ll suffer severe brain damage even if you’re rescued. You also suffer brain damage in the poker room if you deprive yourself of oxygen. You have to have oxygen to function properly.

So, at the breaks that come every so often in the tournament – instead of heading for the restroom like most others do, I make a dash for the open air so I can replenish my mind with some of that good fuel – fresh, clean air. It also doesn’t hurt to run around the block a few times to get your heart pumping and your body and mind ready to return to the tournament refreshed.

All the tournaments at the WSOP are now two-day events with the final table played out over several days. I designed The Seniors World Championship of Poker in the same way so you can play five to six hours the first day, then return the next day about noon, rested and ready to play the final table. I have a little saying that I like to use at The Seniors: "We don’t take breaks, we take naps."

Also, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, and shoes that fit just so. If you’re uncomfortable for any reason, try to rectify the situation. If it’s too cool in the tournament area, go back to your room and get a jacket. One school of thought says that you shouldn’t do anything before the game or during the game that distracts you. Another one says to wear headphones and listen to music. I’m a strong proponent of both schools of thought! Do whatever works best for you.

Excuse me, now, I have to go win a tournament at a local casino in Las Vegas.

Until next time remember to stay lucky.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Johnny Hale