A good friend of mine plays in at least one poker tournament every week online with a buy in over $100 and he has been trying to get me to play in them with him for quite some time. I have never been a great tournament poker player so I have avoided playing until recently. I decided that in my never ending quest to become the best all around poker player I could be, I really needed to start working on my tournament play.
Now the question some of you are probably asking is “Why start at such a high buy in when there are hundreds of multi table poker tournaments every day with buy ins of less than $20.” To answer that question, it is simply because if I am only playing for $10 or $20, I lose interest and stop concentrating. This is of course pitiful and ridiculous, but true nonetheless. The important thing is that I have recognized this problem and avoid these situations. At least that is the silver lining I like to put on this problem.
I have played in two of these tournaments in the last week; a $100 buy in and a $150 buy in. I finished just out of the money in the $150 and made it into the money in the $100, effectively breaking even for the week. I have been very pleased with my results so far. Here are a few things I have learned that may help you in your own tournament play.
The first thing is that I made a very incorrect assumption that because the buy in was larger that the play would be better in the early rounds of the tournament. This was completely wrong. The first hour of play is still filled with people making senseless and stupid plays and mistakes. By playing smart and very tight, you have a great chance to make it to the first break without hurting your chip stack very much, and if you are fortunate enough to catch a big hand like Aces of Kings you may be able to double up.
I was able to achieve the above results by playing tight solid poker without taking any large risks until the end. My strategy for the time being is to continue to play tight to give myself a chance to win at the end and take my chances later in the tournament. If you don’t make it to the bubble, you can’t get into the money.