Poker Tournaments Require Patience

Poker PatienceIn the world of poker patience is a virtue! This is especially true playing freezeout poker tournaments. Its something not a lot of poker players practice but the successful ones know it is an essential part of their game !

I want to give you a few examples where patience will give you the opportunity to be successful but will first start with my poker genesis so you know where I’m coming from.

Like many I played some poker at college with ‘the boys’. Nothing special, different games, we made a night of it and had some fun.  This was the mid to late 90’s and poker hadn’t exploded into the juggernaut it is today.  I really became interested in poker when Chris Moneymaker won the world series and, like many, said “hmmm … maybe I can make some money playing poker.”

I started playing online and reading poker strategy books.  Sit & Go No Limit Holdem tournaments and multi table tournaments quickly became my game of choice.  I started playing and had some early success.  I also started keeping some notes as to my profit, percentage of cashes etc.  Each year since 2005 I have increased my profit from playing poker and as far as I am concerned that means I’m doing something right and moving in the right direction!

Patience and Discipline

I read and learned early on that two things, above all else, are required to succeed in the poker world, especially in the type of game I was playing.  They are patience and discipline.

You know, I hear a lot from friends and people in general that they tried being patient in a tournament and it just didn’t work. As I am sure a lot of you have heard, you must judge your results over a period of time and not a tournament, a day or a week.  Poker is a game that has twists and turns, up’s and downs and cannot be judged over a short period of time.  My response to my friends and to you is that poker is like baseball.

If a baseball player hits or walks one third of the time he is at the plate, he is considered a very successful player.  He FAILS two thirds of the time he is at the plate and is a success!  In poker can you imagine winning one third of all the tournaments you play !!  Wow, that would make you thee most successful player in the world.  Its not easy to practice patience and discipline, but it MUST be done in order to have long term success.

Lets take a look at some examples where these traits are lacking and how it effects your game.  I’m sure you all have started many tournaments and low and behold you have two (or more) people all in on the first hand.  This always amazes me !  Only once have I called an all in on the first hand and it was because I had aces.  In my opinion you should only be calling with aces or kings.  If I had queens I would look to see if I had notes on this person and then make a decision(usually fold). By the way, the one time I called, the other person had K 9 suited!

So this is where it starts, the first hand of a tournament.

Unless I get premium hands in the early stages, I like to sit back and watch the action and see who’s playing what.  I like the action of playing a hand as much as anyone.  Its almost like a drug sometimes isn’t it!  I will admit I don’t adhere to this practice 100%.  Once in a while I will play a less than premium hand when the right conditions present themselves, but knowing those situations and how to avoid getting yourself into trouble only comes with experience.

Everyone has their favourite junk hand to play, mine is 10-9 or 9-8 suited.  I am an advocate of playing the odd speculative hand in the early stages, but only if it’s cheap and certain conditions are met.  You must be on the button or in late position and you should be playing the hand to hit a monster hand (straight, flush or set), all mediocre hands you hit on the flop are considered to be beaten and folded to any resistance.

Lets take a look at another example.  I believe that during a tournament you will fold the best hand sometimes, playing the tight style this guide advocates it is inevitable but also necessary to reduce our overall risk in a tournament.

I was in a small two table 20 player tournament and we were down to 8 players.  I had 2,100 in chips and my opponent in this hand had 750. I had A9 unsuited.  I was small blind and he big.  The table folded to us and I called.  The flop came, 9s 6s 2h.  Now, I had notes on this guy that said, “loose, will bet on draws”.  I bet out 100 and he thought for a moment and went all in and I folded.  He showed 8s 4s.  I knew I had him but why take the an unnecessary risk when your hand isn’t actually that strong and you are getting close to your goal of finishing in the top 3. Incidentally… he finished 7th and I finished 3rd.

You have to practice patience and discipline when playing a freeze out poker tournament.  In some tournaments you may only play a couple of hands in the early and middle stages and others you may play quite a few more.  That’s poker!  It might not work all the time but I’m living proof it does work in the long run.

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