Saturday, July 10, 2004

how the pros play poker tournaments

i have been playing close attention to the professional poker players play on these freeroll tournaments. what you don't get to see watching them on TV is how they play from the beginning to the final table. their style of play is completely different from what you get to see on TV and how they play to make it to the final table.

the given is that the pros are good at are reading people and calculating odds. with that in mind their game is the weakest in the early stages of the competition. when you play against loose callers that call with A6, or people that call big raises with 36 off suit because they didn't want to give up their blind, you don't know what cards to expect from these players when you don't make a pair with your AK. its hard to fold AK when the board is 7 2 3, and someone is raises all in representing 2 pair when you've invested 35% of your chips before the flop.

a good percentage of people that get eliminated are people who place too much value in hands like AK when there are too many loose callers early on in the tournament.

the pros know that the majority of loose callers are are weeded out when the blinds are still low. so what the pros do is limp in with hands like AK, and fold to even small raises when they don't make anything on the flop. there's no need to risk elimination so early on in the tourney with Ace high because you're pot comitted when you know you can out play and out read players when the blinds are much higher and people are folding before the flop appropriately. if they choose to play hands like KK or QQ, they'll make very strong bet that even the loose players wont call and steal the blinds without confrontation. if anyone calls, they know what they are up against. they also limp in with hands like small pocket pairs and Ax suited hoping to make a set or a nut flush on the flop. even if you have 75% chance of winning, there's no need to play every one of those hands all in because you will lose one out of 4. you should only face the decision of elimination as least amount of times as possible.

so with style of tight play, you can pretty much fold your way up to the top 20 percent. hopefully you caught some cards and even though you are not one of the top 10 chip leaders, you should have enough to be able to start playing your A game (much different than the playing style early on) with your reading abilities when people are folding junk and your opponents cards are more readable. even if you don't play a single hand, the pros don't seem to worry at all. they are far better off than the people who got eliminated, and they know how to play with a short stack.

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