How to Prepare for a Poker Tournament

Author: varsha Published on: December 18, 2023

Success when playing poker has a lot to do with fortune, but also a bit to do with skill. That makes it different from other casino games like slot machines and roulette, both of which are entirely a matter of luck.

The element of skill and strategy involved in poker is what attracts a lot of people to the game. Playing it well demands the ability to think at least a couple of steps ahead and read other players psychologically. 

Of course, you have to learn the rules first, if you want to have any chance, because poker is not a simple game – whichever variant you pick. After mastering the basics, most people start with smaller games before graduating to tournaments – either in-person or online ones.

They are where the really big prize money is won. So let’s take a look at what you need to do to prepare yourself for competing in a tournament.

Be Well Rested

This is a tip that is equally applicable whether you are travelling to an in-person tournament or competing in an online one. You must be physically and mentally rested before taking part in a tournament because it will involve long playing sessions and because poker is a game where you have to be sharp to do well.

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That means getting eight hours sleep if possible and aiming for high quality, restful sleep. One point to be aware of when it comes to online poker tournaments is that they could be based in a part of the world where the time zone is different. That means you may have to try to sleep at a time of the day that is not usual for you in order to be fresh for them.

Spend Some Time Warming Up

No athlete would enter a race without warming his or her body up first and you should prep yourself for a tournament beforehand. That can mean some of the same muscle stretching exercises that athletes use; poker may not involve physical exertion, but it will require you to sit in the same place for hours and you do not want to be afflicted by cramps.

Otherwise, warming up before the start of play can be a matter of checking you have opening bets and ranges memorized, working out pot odds in your head or dealing a few hands to yourself, if it is an in-person event.

This may sound a bit silly, but it is also wise to go to the bathroom before play gets underway, both for in-person and online tournaments. That will ensure you do not end up missing out on a great hand in the early rounds because you had to answer the call of nature.

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Set a Target

It doesn’t matter whether you are playing in a local tournament, a really big national or global one, in person or online, you should always set a sensible target for yourself. You might think that winning is the target and it is, but ambitions that are both more specific and realistic than that is what we are talking about.

That could mean having the aim of still being in the game when the first break period comes along. This will help you to maintain a steady pace in that opening spell and resist going for broke, before then taking stock during the break.

In bigger tournaments where you will be up against the very top players, victory is not very likely – at least when you first start. Therefore you should never set goals like winning or even reaching the last table, because you will become discouraged if you don’t achieve them.

Look to prepare yourself for a gradual but measurable improvement.

Play Your Way

This piece of advice is most important to remember if you are playing in major online or in-person tournaments. In those sorts of events, people can be mentally affected by the prize money available and start trying to change their standard poker games to improve their chances.

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The problem with this is that you will then be playing in a way that doesn’t come naturally when up against top class opponents. Doing that actually reduces the odds of any success.

Do show some assertiveness in games though. You will run out of chips quickly as the bets increase if you are intimidated into folding all the time.

Dress Appropriately

If you are going to an in-person tournament, look at the forecast for the location and wear clothes that are appropriate. There is nothing worse than trying to focus on the game when you are freezing cold or sweating under too many layers.

Making sure that you are ready for a demanding event is largely about common sense physical and mental preparation.


Author: varsha

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