Live Poker Tournament Tips

Alex | April 10, 2010

Live poker tournaments can be one of the best experiences that I have ever experienced but at the same time they can be daunting to players who have never played one before. The thrill and excitement that can only be had when playing live poker is invigorating and the element of actually being there to see, breath and play the action in person means that even if you aren’t playing at a professional standard, you can feel like you are just for the tournament.

On walking into the venue you have to carry yourself with confidence, showing that will mean that players are taking strong feelings from your body language that you could well be a seasoned player who is a regular tournament player, giving them a slight sense of fear should they have never played live before.

Gathering information about opponents

The worst thing that I have seen players do is that they talk way too much, giving away too much information about their previous poker experience or the sheer lack of it.

Within minutes of walking into the venue, I was approached by two young guys who seemed to be more about making friends than getting into the ‘zone’ of where a poker player needs to be when undertaking in a situation like this. Before I was even able to finish my drink, I had already been told that this was their first live tournament as they were more at home at the online poker tables, something that gave me the information to know that their style of play would be more suited to the comfort of their bedroom or where ever their computer is at home.

Live Poker TournamentI was given the advice that if you’re getting caught up within a conversation, be careful not to give away too much, in fact the best thing that you could do is to show a strong amount of experience, highlighting a number of other tournaments, maybe even online poker tournaments, that you’ve won and telling stories of the hands.

Now I’m not one for telling lies but when you’re having to give information to players that soon could well be looking to use that information against you for their own financial gain, its time to think poker, think bluffing. Feed them information that shows strength within your play, something that’s going to make them really have to think about how they are going to face off against you should the chance arise.

You have to remember that many players at the tournament have bought into the tournament with previous experience because lets face it, even as a gambling person, you’re not about to stake thousands of dollars into a game that you’re not confident that you can win are you?

Players will look to show strength and weakness through oral interaction with you but you have to be able to distinguish when someone is being naïve and telling you the truth or being careful about what they are willing to tell you and using methods such as reverse psychology on you, making you think that they are either weak within the environment or that they feel right at home.

Image is everything when playing live poker

Heading to the tables, you have to think about what you are going to portray to your rivals seated alongside you, are you going to enter the table as a person that going to hide behind a hat, cap or sunglasses or are you going to be a talkative player who is looking to probe with each and every piece of small talk?

Personally, I prefer to approach the table, say nothing and hear everything.

This means that I am able to concentrate on my strategy while still being able to obtain information from conversations that are going on at the table, well what you can hear with all that noise.

I can recalled being sat at the table waiting for a couple of the other players who were due to be seated and looking about the room to get a good idea of the faces that I could be facing off against, another opportunity to feed myself information.

Looking about the room, I was able to spot a number of players who were drinking lager, something that is massively discouraged within all poker strategies that I have ever read and written. Take note that there are players drinking alcohol and try to remember their faces, after all, the government seems to like to remind us that alcohol reduces your ability to make decisions, could that mean that they are going to get their game play all wrong?

Efficient live poker tournament tips

So, lets have a look at what advice I can give you for when you decide that you’re ready to take part in a live poker tournament.

Arrive early

The earlier that you arrive the better. This gives you time to scope out the playing field as well as allowing you to find your way about the building.

Keep talking to a minimum

So many players who play live poker tend to speak way too much, it could be a nervous thing or could be that they are looking to pass the waiting time by making friends.

Remember that you’re there to take their money, not arrange a dinner date.

Make them think you’re weak

If asked about your experience within live tournaments by another player, lie!

Players aren’t asking this question to see if they can offer you advice or hold your hand when the tournament starts, they are looking for information that they can use against you.

If you’re new to the live tournament scene, tell them that you have played a couple of times and that you’re hitting the final table the majority of the time, keep it brief and then move on.

If you’re the more experienced player, why not feed them a line that will mean that they believe that you have never played a poker tournament before as you’re more based around cash games? Make them think that you’re weak and then exploit their play towards you.

Stick to water or soft drinks

You need to keep your game at its strongest point and so drinking anything that contains alcohol will only reduce your chances of doing so.

Stay focused

Remember that you’re playing live here, you’re not able to click a button at the top of your screen to see what just happened while you were checking out the waitress.

Stay focused and keep your thoughts on the game in hand, that way you will be set to play your strongest poker game.

Enjoy the experience

At the end of the day you’re there to enjoy the game and try to make a good return on your buy in. If you’re not going to enjoy the experience, you’re not going to leave with anything other than an empty pocket.