Tournament poker is now very big business and television coupled with the internet has speeded up this process alarmingly. Millions of players the world over now dream of taking down a WPT title or a WSOP gold bracelet. The reality is of course that most will never make it. In fact the overwhelming majority will never make a final table in their lives of any significance.
Why is this? Well there are numerous reasons and it isn’t necessarily to do with a lack of skill either. Many players simply don’t have the proper technique for doing well in poker tournaments and have a style that better suits the more mundane and sedate pace of cash games.
Although it has to be said that a six handed cash game is probably a far faster game than the early stages of a poker tournament. Most novice and inexperienced tournament players struggle when the blinds reach a level where the average stack size is relatively short.
This is when savvy tournament pro’s really go to town and ramp up their aggression levels. This level of aggression leaves novices scratching their heads as they are seeing hand after hand after hand of junk that has to be folded. Soon they are required to make a stand by shoving all-in. Even if they win that hand then they are still short, more often than not though they end up on the rail.
The fact of the matter is that you have to play fast to win a poker tournament and that means taking risks. If you think about this for a minute, let us say that you are sitting in a 1000 player tournament online with 5000 chip stacks. This means that there are 5 million in chips in circulation. To win this tournament you are going to have to win every single one of those chips.
This may seem obvious but yet most tournament players never really see this for what it really is and play too tightly and don’t gamble enough. The result is that they end up being short stacked as the tournament reaches its middle stages. Most of the time though these are players who are under bankrolled for the tournament that they are playing in and are merely deciding to take a shot.
This shot entails playing carefully and basically hoping to get lucky and to survive as long as possible. These are not goals that are employed by tournament professionals. They realise that the total number of hands that they will be dealt from the beginning to the end will only be small and they know that they need to make things happen rather than sit there and wait for lady luck to hit them in the face.
The pro’s also realise that merely cashing is not enough most of the time and the major prize money is in those last three seats. You will need to assess what structure the tournament has and to play accordingly to that structure. For instance, online tournaments have a relatively fast structure and this means that you must play fast in order to stand any chance of cashing in the major places.
The overheads that you will incur playing these tournaments is another factor for why few players beat them consistently. This is mainly the reason why you need to achieve major cashes in poker tournaments with just enough regularity so that you can make them pay.
There are many different styles that are successful in tournament poker but whatever style of play you choose, make sure of one very important thing. Make sure that you are playing fast enough to give yourself a chance to win the event…..if you don’t then you still have a chance and it is called ……NO CHANCE!
Carl “The Dean” Sampson