ALL ABOUT POKER:
POKER TOURAMENT TIPS Part 2
by Bill Burton
Bill Burton is the Casino Gambling Guide and columnist for the Internet portal About.com located at:www.casinogambling.about.com. He is the author of "1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets" (available online at www.billburton.com) and "Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em" (available at 10% discount from our BJI online store). Bill is also an instructor for Golden Touch Craps: www.thecrapsclub.com
Several weeks ago I was hired to organize and run a poker tournament for a corporate sales event. The company thought it would be a great way for their employees to bond while enjoying a different form of entertainment. Some of the attendees had never played in a live tournament before so they asked me to speak with the group and give them a few tips before the tournament started. Last month I covered the etiquette tips I gave the players before the tournament. This month I share some of strategy tips I gave them. Whether you are new to no limit poker tournaments or more experienced you may find these 10 tips helpful in getting you to the final table.
The biggest mistake a player makes is playing too many hands. A winning player is one who is very selective about the hands they play. You also need to be aware of your position. A hand that can be played from late position in an unraised pot may not be able to be played from early position. You need a stronger hand to play from early position because you have more players acting after you who may raise or re-raise the pot.
Donít over value suited cards. The biggest mistake that most novice players make is playing any two suited cards from any position. You will be dealt two suited cards about 23 percent of the time. You will only make a flush about 5.77. Simply put for every time you play two suited cards you will only make your flush about once in 16 tries. If you play low suited cards you still have to worry about a bigger flush beating you.
Another similar mistake that players make is putting too much value on small pocket pairs. When you have a small pocket pair you want to get into the hand as cheaply as possible and hope you flop a set. Too many players will call raises or go all in with small pocket pairs. The best you can hope for is a hand will essentially be a coin flip. This is not the type of hand you want to risk your tournament life on.
Use the "fit or fold" criteria for deciding to play after the flop. If the flop does not fit your hand you should fold if there is a bet in front of you. A flop fits your hand by improving it or by giving you a good draw to improve your hand or simply if your hand beats the board as it is.
Raise the same amount every time. Most pro players will bet three to four times the big blind when they raise. This makes it hard for anyone to pick up on the strength of their hand. When they bet the same ach time you donít know if they are raising with pocket aces or 27 off suit.
If the pot is raised before it is you turn to act you will have to call the original bet and the raise. This is known as cold calling. Unless you have a very powerful hand you should not cold call any raises. You need a stronger hand to call a raise than you do to initiate one. Why waste valuable chips on a speculative hand?
Avoid confrontations for all of your chips. Many unskilled players have two moves during a no limit tournament. They either fold their hand or they go all in. This strategy may work fine for awhile and win you a few pots but it will never win you the top prize.
Bluffing is a very valuable weapon to have in your poker arsenal but you should make sure you use it correctly and donít over use it. Never try to bluff more than two players. There will usually be someone who wants to "Keep you honest." Make sure your bluff is believable.
A winning player is the one that initiates the action. If you are first to act rather than checking, bet. If there is a bet before you consider raising rather than calling. You should be well aware of the complete arsenal at your disposal including check-raising, slow playing, semi-bluffing and how to gain a free card if necessary.
Pay attention even when you are not involved in a hand. You should always be aware of the number of players involved in the hand. Was there a raise before the flop? If so who raised and what type of hands has that person been playing? Look at the cards the other players turn over at the showdown. This is valuable information that could help you win the pot in the future.
Until next time, remember:
"Luck comes and goes...Knowledge Stays Forever!"
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