What it means to be a truly good poker player goes way beyond even the best execution of the game’s rules. There’s so much more factors involved to be analyzed, not just from the pure mathematical point of view. Playing live tournaments, those big and crowded ones in particular, requires special care, and a little more preparation.
As it usually happens to be, nothing beats good old practice. There is plenty of occasions for that in any given year. You can find out about it, for example, at live tournament poker report where important past and upcoming events are neatly displayed in a calendar, so the opportunity would not be missed. When making a switch from online games, the first things to notice, and then embrace, are the obvious differences. They could be as trivial as increased costs of playing live cash games or tournaments, that should cover buy-ins and other fees, as well as expenses like accommodation, food, travel and similar. Unless you get special packages that take care of all this every time you’re on the road, this is definitely something to be concerned about in terms of managing your bankroll.
Probably the biggest difference about live events is that you face a living and breathing opposition, which significantly increases the amount of information you have to take in. As much you can gather from people’s movements playing online, here you get more tools to tackle that problem. This, of course, goes both ways: on top of everything else, you also have to focus on hiding your own emotions and shortcomings from opponents. For an experience competitor, trained at reading tells and dealing well with stress, this can be very rewarding. Beginners however, may – rightly so – feel a little overwhelmed at first.
Undoubtedly, the above is not the only way live tournaments could make one fear to be out of place. In fact, the bigger the crowds, the better chance to encounter more professionals. You can be sure they won’t be lining up to provide insightful feedback to make your game better – everyone has to learn the hard way. With that said, it is important not to get intimidated by opponents, even if they seem stronger and stakes are high. On the other hand, overconfidence is not very welcomed either. The ideal sweet spot is a balanced performance, preferably based on unique style that not relays on copying the pros.
This is why the overall approach simply has to be smart. There is no easy fix to achieve it in one sitting, but taking few general rules under consideration is a good start. The key is to protect your chips. When cards are not going your way and blinds are getting higher, you will need as much as possible. You cannot afford limping with questionable hands and making unwelcomed risks. The tight game is the correct respond, which is what most players will be doing anyway. You can turn up the heat with really good cards or when your stack is going low. Meanwhile, the way to go is to keep your eyes on the pot and stacks, to know and understand the rules and the goals, and to remember to have fun.