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Introduction To Tournament Poker

Poker is a game of styles divided over two worlds: the cash game and tournament games. Both are drastically different in game progression and a good player needs to be familiar with both to be successful. Most players understand the game and learn in a table top setting, usually with friends or family. Many however never get to the understanding required of tournament play. When these players are seen playing at tournaments it is readily evident that they do not understand the subtle differences in the art of tournament play.

The most influential part of tournament poker game play is the ever changing blinds. In tournaments the blinds increase at set intervals that are made known to all the players. This helps to weed those players that are refusing to move in on the pot or help to make any action at the table. This also creates a completely new situation in which players are forced to take action, forced to decide if each of their hands is a playable hand.

In cash games this is never really a problem, player’s can easily wait hand after hand for their perfect hand, and that simply is not an option in tournaments especially late in the tournaments when blinds are very steep. This effectively alters the psychology of the tournament as well and generally speaking, most players are obligated to play looser and with a bit more aggression than they might so be inclined to play in a cash game.

The second very large effecter of the tournament play game style is the fact that buy-ins are limited if allowed at all and everyone starts with the same chips (some tournaments allow for increased chip size at increased prices but most do not). This means everyone comes in even. It severely limits the amount of stack intimidation that can be done early game and may alter the play of those who usually sit down to a game with large stacks.

In addition to that, everyone has to worry about being eliminated. Regardless of the size of the tournament or the cost the result is everyone is twice as worried about going out, both a bad and a good thing. It is though a great thing for aggressive and confident players since it gives them an edge to hold over other players.

With these extremely different unique elements in a poker game the result can be nothing short of a completely different game. A larger number of hands are played by well controlled players at tournaments. A larger number of hands need to be played to remain a float and to avoid becoming the small stack of the tournament and ultimately be eliminated.

Understanding the poker tournament play type is one of the most important elements to doing well in one, staying aware of these variables is also an exceptional feat that must be accomplished and with little psychological repercussion. If tournament play is anything it’s a table game with the psychological portion on steroids, and should be treated with caution because play styles within tournaments will reflect this hope to capitalize on others lack of control.



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