Mental Tournament Play
After the increase in broadcasting of the World Series of Poker in 2003, the poker craze has spread like wildfire. Both young and old are flocking to the casinos and online poker rooms to test, what they think is luck, at a game that many have spent a lifetime to master.
Now, since tournaments are all that are shown on television, many players have made the decision to play more consistently in a tournament environment then in a cash game scenario.
If you have already read the article, Tournament Play vs. Cash Play, and you have decided that tournament play is for you, then you are at the right place. Many players automatically assume that to play and win a tournament you need to know all of the strategies and tactics of poker. This is a very true statement, but what many players overlook is your mental game in the tournaments. This article will guide you through the mental game that you must posses in order to play in a tournament. These skills apply to all games and tournaments no matter limits or variation.
When you start the tournament, you need to make sure to find out how many tables, players, how high the limits are, and what the prize money is. These are all very important factors to incorporate into your game play, and many of your early decisions will be based upon these statistics. If there are not that many players entered in the tournament then you can play a little looser since you have fewer opponents that can beat you out of hands and chips. If there are a lot of players in the tournament, then it is a wise decision to play more conservatively and allow some of the looser players to knock themselves out and get you closer to placing in the money.
Chip control in a tournament is the most important aspect to watch over, and it can mean the difference in executing a good bluff, to being able to recuperate after a bad beat, to having the assurance and confidence at the table. Everyone will start off with the same amount of chips at the tournament; however, one player will end with all of them. Obviously it is the part between these two extremes that is the most important, but I feel if you just remember that everyone starts at a level chip count that it eases many of your pre-game jitters. Winning a big hand early in the tournament helps, yet it doesn’t guarantee a win, and it certainly doesn’t mean you will lose the tournament if you don’t win that large hand early in the tournament.
It is for that reason that I recommend all the beginner players to play patiently during their first couple tournaments. I know this is really hard, since many times you will be tempted to play those flush draws or gut straights. Sometimes you will even fold, and the card you need will come on fourth or fifth Street, but no matter what tell yourself that you made the right play. If you give into your temptations then you will often lose a great number of your chips on a hand that you will regret and eventually puts you on tilt.
If in fact you do suffer one of these bad beats, try as hard as you can to refrain from blaming yourself or becoming frustrated because of it. It’s only one hand, and as a wise poker player once said, all you need is a chip and a chair. If you become frustrated then you have a slim to none chance of coming back and regaining your chips.
Your mental play in a poker tournament is by far one of the most important parts of your array of attacks. You need to be in the best condition you can be when you play, so make sure never to play if you are suffering from emotional issues or dysfunctions. Also make sure to get the best night sleep as possible before the night of a tournament since playing for numerous hours straight is often very tiring both physically and mentally. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me. Good luck!