(Distributed Feb. 20, 2007)
FIRST-PLACE-OR-BUST APPROACH OK FOR PROS, NOT ALL AMATEURS
You need a good strategy and a little luck to go deep in a poker tournament, but what does it take to actually make it into the money or, better still, finish first? Some LuckyDog readers came looking for advice.
(SET ITAL) * Hey Russ: I read your column in the TV section of the Daily Rocket Miner here in Wyoming. I have learned some things and try to use them in the monthly games I play with friends. I also finished ninth in a casino tournament. It was a blast, but they only paid the top seven. Thanks for the advice. — Jamie in Rock Springs, Wyo. (END ITAL)
Appreciate the kind words, Jamie. It sounds as if you’re enjoying the game, and that’s the most important thing for recreational players. Well, it’s nice to win sometimes, too!
Battling your way through a tournament field only to wind up just short of the money can be fun, as you said, but for most it’s frustrating. You get so close, and then…
Making it over that last hump often is simply a matter of not getting unlucky on a crucial hand. If you’re playing tournaments the way I suggest, you’re being cautious early, accumulating chips with smart aggression in the middle, and gambling when you have to toward the end.
Some pros say they have a first-place-or-bust approach to tournaments, but I don’t think that’s correct for most amateurs. You have to reach the final table first before you can win an event. Late in a tournament, based on your chip position and the caliber of your opponents, you should play whatever style offers the best chance to get in the money.
Get paid first, then go after the top spot.
You wrote, “May your next tourney be rewarding.” Well, it’s Saturday night and I just qualified online for a tournament in April which will send the winner to a free seat on the Poker After Dark show on NBC. Only the final nine out of 2,093 players advanced tonight, so I’m feeling bulletproof right now!
(SET ITAL) * Hi LuckyDog: I got down to heads-up in a no-limit hold’em tournament recently. I had the chip lead, but the other player immediately started moving all-in on every hand. I folded six or seven times in a row, getting really aggravated, but finally made my stand with a good hand and won. What do you think of that player’s strategy? — Dan H. of Rock Island, Ill. (END ITAL)
Pushing all-in with a short stack is a common move, Dan, but I can’t see doing it every hand unless you’re out-chipped something like 10-1. Your opponent may have decided to take skill out of the equation, or perhaps was just in a hurry to be somewhere else.
You played correctly. With a chip lead, the pressure is on your opponent. In no-limit, all you need is one key winning hand, and you had enough chips to wait for such a hand.
The last thing you want to do is get agitated, lose with a marginal hand, and double-up your opponent once or twice. Guess who’s the short-stack then?
(SET ITAL) * Hi Russ: Your wonderful article about the seven-card stud tournament at Tunica added to the list of thrills for my sixth-place finish. My husband and I are starting a scrapbook because who knows where I might go from here? — Mary Ann Matthews of Knob Noster, Mo. (END ITAL)
Well, Mary Ann, after January’s World Poker Open in Tunica you went to the World Series of Poker Circuit event in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where you got in the money in a no-limit hold’em tournament. Nice going!
That makes four cashes in the past four months at significant tournaments. Pretty good for someone who took up tournament poker just two years ago.
A scrapbook is cool, but you should also keep a notebook that tracks your overall results, specific hands that you may have misplayed, and details on the playing characteristics of certain opponents you might face again in your tournament travels.
(SET ITAL) * Yo LuckyDog: I see where WSOP champ Jamie Gold has ended the dispute over his $12 million first-place winnings with that television producer. How much do you think the other guy got? J.N. of East Moline, Ill. (END ITAL)
Yes, the soap opera appears to be over, J.N. The Associated Press reported Feb. 7 that the 2007 WSOP champ and Crispin Leyser, who supposedly had been promised half of the winnings, reached a financial agreement and scrapped their lawsuits.
So, how much did Leyser receive? I’d guess $1 million. What did Gold get? A lesson to be careful about the promises he makes.
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 2007 RUSS SCOTT
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.