BY RUSS SCOTT
RELEASE: DEC. 28, 2010
Player’s ’10 Commandments’ Can Improve Your Tournament Game
In the holiday spirit, let’s turn today’s space over to a long-time LuckyDog Poker reader’s “10 commandments” for tournament players to follow in 2011.
I have edited his message, mostly for length, but can’t argue with his observations. They are worth sharing.
He asked for anonymity because “some of my regular opponents will get too much information from this.” I am granting his wish so he can sleep at night.
Here, then, are his 10 commandments to obey when playing live no-limit hold’em tournaments with 30 to 50 players:
1. Thou canst win the tournament in the first few stages, but thou can lose it.
Inexperienced players often make huge pre-flop raises with hands like A-Q or worse from early position.
In the early stages of a tournament, protecting a big hand is not important with the blinds low. There is little to be gained, and plenty to be lost if someone behind you wakes up with a bigger hand.
2. Tricky limping is high-risk, low-reward.
A favorite play is the early limp with a big pocket pair, especially aces, in the hope someone raises to narrow the field for you and gives your hand disguise value.
One in five times it works perfectly, and you might be heads-up against a weak player without a clue. But often you end up four-way in an un-raised pot – a potential recipe for disaster.
3. To fold is gold.
The biggest mistake inexperienced players make is playing too many hands early in the tournament.
When out of position, only the best hands should be played. In late position, do not enter a pot weak or you are an easy target for aggressive players. It’s better to fold a hand like Q-T or A-8 than limp in with it late.
4. Calling station equals early vacation.
The second biggest mistake is calling too many bets without the proper odds. After one or two misses, you will be figured for a chaser. So then what happens when you catch? You almost surely will not get paid off.
5. Bluffing is fine, but toe the line.
Bluffing should be part of your strategy, but first you need solid information on your opponent’s willingness to lay down a hand.
You rarely can bluff a player with most of his chips already in the pot. You also can’t bluff a huge stack without a nearly exact read.
6. Know thine enemy and thyself.
This is Poker 101: Players enter tournaments for different reasons. Some just hope to make it into the money; others seek only first place. Some play for fun or challenge, and some have no clue why they play.
Knowing which option describes your opponent, and which one fits you, helps determine how a player will respond in a tight spot.
7. Play thy chip stack and thine opponent’s stack.
This is Tournament Poker 102, but can’t be said enough: When short-stacked, you have to move in with a hand you might not even normally play.
With an average stack, the game is all about patience, waiting for the big hand. On a big stack, playing to maintain a leading position is more important than moving to a more dominant position.
8. Thy memory must be short.
Bad beats happen. The better players are the ones who can shake them off and move on.
9. Thy memory must be long, too.
Poker players are more like leopards than chameleons. They tend to react consistently under similar circumstances. Remembering what a certain player does in certain situations is a great edge.
10. Thou shalt always chop.
Because these events have extremely top-heavy payouts and a great element of luck at the end, you must protect your hard work and avoid busting out without a fair return on investment.
Cut a fair deal, giving the chip leaders proper consideration, and paying off the short stacks not to get lucky on you.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2010 RUSS SCOTT
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM