A Good Poker Tournament Style?

There is no doubt that tournament poker is the most exciting form of poker in the world today. The chance to play for life changing sums of money creates a thrill like no other type of poker can even come close to.

This is especially the case in big events and televised events. Many players over the years have become stars and names within poker simply by taking down a big event. Are these players better than you – sometimes but not always. So just how do you go about wading through a big tournament that has maybe several thousand players in it to get to the final table?

In any poker tournament then you have to be realistic, if there are say two thousand players then only one person will be the winner and only around nine players will make the final table. This person is highly unlikely to be you irrespective of how good you are and this applies to anybody. There is a large luck element attached to tournament poker which means that anybody has a chance and that is a good thing.

So when you have more skill, knowledge and experience then don’t think that this effect will be startling because it won’t. So you need to have ‘realism? as part of your plan before you start to play and that realism is that you are probably going to bust out short of the final table.

The players that perform the worst in tournaments tend to be the ones that simply do not change gears. There are two schools of thought here in what the correct tournament style is with one saying that it is tight-aggressive to start and then switching to loose-aggressive in the later stages with the other camp saying that is loose-aggressive throughout. However what is not a winning style is to start off being tight-aggressive and remain in that style throughout the tournament.

That will work in a cash game where the blinds are static but it will not work in a tournament. The problem is that a tight-aggressive style will help you to outlast much of the field and this in itself feels like ‘success?. However when the blinds start to really escalate and the field shrinks then you are simply not increasing your stack fast enough and you are left with only having to get exceptionally lucky as your only way of surviving.

Risk is an essential part of tournament poker and whatever you do your stack is at risk. This is no different to say someone that tries to play it too cautiously by only ever placing their money in no risk deposit accounts in a bank that pay zero interest. Over time their money is simply eroded by inflation but in a poker tournament that inflation happens very rapidly until our hero is forced to go all in with insufficient chips just to survive.

So a good tournament style is one that combines surviving (because you cannot win a tournament if you are eliminated) with accumulating as many chips as possible. To accumulate as many chips as possible means running risks and with aggressive intelligent play! You cannot trust to luck as your only plan for accumulating chips as luck by itself is simply not enough even though it is an important aspect of tournament success.

Carl Sampson is an online poker player and poker ambassador for 888poker

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