Picking Your Spots in a Poker Tournament
Many poker players state emphatically that their game of choice is the hardest way in the world to make an easy living. Why? Well, although the game is easy to learn, and no actual physical labor is involved, there is still an undeniable element of luck that can take you from on top of the world to scraping the bottom of the barrel in a matter of minutes.
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Poker, especially the ever-popular Texas Hold’em, is a cruel, unrelenting game – a game that doesn’t care about you in the slightest.
In this article, we will speak about how to better pick your spots in a poker tournament (think freeroll or any tournament with 100 or more entrants).
Playing poker is drastically different than playing online blackjack or any other card game. You’re not competing against the house; you’re competition against other players at the table, up to 10. To that end, it sometimes takes more than the best cards to win. You have to be in command of the situation. You have to make others believe you’re weak when you’re strong and strong when you’re weak. It’s a mind game as much as it’s a numbers game.
For the first tip, let’s speak about the baby blinds – those initial levels of the tournament. Now, some will tell you that this is the best time to get your chips in, when the blinds are low and when the risk is low. But if you’ve ever played in one of these things, you know that for at least the first two levels, the donkeys are all pushing with any ace or any suited connectors to try and double up.
We want to back off here and let the riffraff do what it does. Unless you have a strong pocket in a strong position (button or at least early to act) or unless you can limp in and catch gold, just bow out gracefully while folks battle it out.
Once the levels increase, by at least levels six, you need to start grabbing any spot you can. The competition is going to be thick at any top us online casinos or poker rooms out there, so never miss an opportunity to play.
From levels six on, you want to see at least 20% of the flops. Of course, you don’t want to be calling raises or coming into family pots with mediocre cards, but you need to be aggressive when leading if you have anything at all worth playing. Even if you don’t end up taking the pot, you need to show the table that you’re not to be trifled with. Later on, when they’re hoping to cower in fear to float through, you can make these bums fold like clothes.
Picking your spots in a tournament online is all about knowing when to get involved in the hand. The answer here: rarely. If you can do your gambling pre-flop, then this is the preferred method. Whenever you have a hand, try to force the situation for a heads-up pot. Limping or flat calling and expecting to trap someone, unless a killer hand (trips or better) warrants it, should be the last thing on your mind.
The bluff bet is going to be your friend in this situation. Say you’re on the button and have an A9 off-suit with 2 other limpers. Yeah, you could take your chances and call, but you better believe the small and big blind are coming into the hand right behind you. This leaves you with four other players, 8 other hole cards, in the pot sharing the table. Suddenly, a semi-strong hand becomes incredibly weak unless you catch magic.
Picking your spots means that you need to be the aggressor in this situation and get folks to back out. You can gauge strength here. Garbage will fold unless it is the last caller. No bluffer in history wants to call down or raise up in the middle of the pack. And even the best poker pro out there would rather live to fight another day than to come in three or four-handed with nothing in the hole.
This will win you the pot, give you a read on what everyone else is holding, or let you know that you’re beat. That’s what is required of you in tournament poker.
Use the aggressor strategy when you’re holding anything of note in position. If you can limp in or call on the cheap with anything, then you can play the trap game. Other than that, you will need to own the table – or at least your segment of it.
It's important to be in tune with the game, as in, stay on top of things, stay sharp. The idea behind the game of poker is to outsmart your opponent, especially when you have bad cards.. that's what make a great poker player. How to get there ? practice. Keep on practicing.