Don’t lose that Online Poker Tournament Before You Have Even Started!

Preparation, Both Mentally and Practically Is Key To Online Poker Tournament Success.
Read Our Detailed Guide To Preparing For Your Online Poker Tournament Session.

By Rich

Although a tournament cannot be won until the end, it is widely acknowledged it can be lost at any point before this, but did you know you can lose a tournament before you even buy in?

If you are not prepared mentally and take steps to give yourself the best chance to do well in the online poker tournament, you are probably better off not playing in the first place. So what steps do you need to take and what information do you need before you decide to play?

Poker Tournament Preparation - How long will the game last?

MTTs can last a very long time and you need to allow yourself adequate time to play. You will not be playing your best game if you find yourself looking at a clock because you have other commitments which are in the back of your mind. Even if you are pretty sure you can just make it to meet your other half, collect the kids or join friends for a drink, but you know time will be tight, you may find yourself trying to force the play in the tournament to knock other players out or gain a dominant big stack. This usually leads to you playing big pots which you have no business being in. Just find a tournament you can comfortably play in the time you have.

If you are not familiar with the online poker tournament you plan to enter you can use this formula; Take an estimate of the total number of players then half it for every hour of play. Once you are down to about 10 players, add another hour on for the final table, this should give you a rough idea on how long the tourney will take.

Poker Tournament Preparation - Are you tired?

Your ‘edge’ is never huge in a game of poker, this is reduced further in tournaments by increasing blinds resulting in more importance of situational factors. If you are feeling tired at the start of the tournament the chances are you will be even worse 4 hours later – your ability to read situations will be hampered. If you are starting a game late at night think about how you will be feeling when the game is finishing off if it is likely to be very late.

Poker Tournament Preparation - Can you afford the buy-in?

Are you bankrolled sufficiently to play the tournament? As MTTs typically payout the top 10%, you can burn through a lot of cash very quickly especially online with tournaments starting every minute of every day. For more information see our on Multi-Table Tournament Bankroll Management article.

Occasionally it might be fun (and potentially very profitable) to take a shot at an online poker tournament with a significantly higher buy-in. For low to mid limit online players these may be the Sunday Million tournaments on the major sites, or it could be an online event like PokerStars WCOOP or a satellite for a major live event like the WSOP.

This is fine for the odd “treat” or if you have satellited into the tournament, just make sure you are comfortable enough with your game that the buy-in won’t affect how you play. Playing with “scared” money usually results weak play, so be sure you can forget about the buy-in and just concentrate in playing your best game like any other tournament.

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ACR Poker Mark's Rec

Poker Tournament Preparation - What is the structure?

Different sites have different blind / ante structures. Within a site there are usually more than one format of MTTs where the structure is altered in some way. Make sure you know your starting stack and how long the different levels last as this will impact your play.

Poker Tournament Preparation - What are the payouts?

Find out what you are playing for when the payouts start. You need to know when the money bubble approaches as it will  affect the play of your opponents - some will tighten up to make the money and others get aggressive to take advantage of this. See also if there are any points after the money bubble where there is a significant jump in payouts as this may also create another bubble scenario (for example the ‘bubble’ of the final table)

Poker Tournament Preparation - Are you comfortable?

Again because Poker Tournaments take so long you can only play your best game if you are relaxed in your surroundings. Get a comfortable chair to sit on and make sure your computer is positioned where it is easy to use where there are minimum disruptions. Keep drinks nearby and if you think you might get hungry, make sure you have snacks handy.

Remember to cash in a multi-player online poker tournament you need to both play well and get lucky. Making sure you have the proper preparation and information before the game starts will not guarantee victory but will give you a slight edge over those who haven’t thought about it, and sometimes that can make all the difference.

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ACR Poker Mark's Rec

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