Poker Tournament Myths

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Poker Tournament Myths:

Myths carry the potential to traduce facts and discourage certain activities.  Along with the advent of the internet, a simple myth or rumour can go a long way.  In this article I get angry and try to rectify the biggest poker tournament myths that have surrounded the game.

Poker Tournament Myth 1: Poker Tournaments are a Game of Luck

This is really horrible myth that peeves tournament fans and players.  Cash game players are the biggest verdicts because they berate tournament poker; however to me it’s the equivalent of non-poker players saying cash game poker is a game of luck.

Poker tournaments are a game of skill and in my opinion require way more advanced strategy an knowledge than cash games do(differences between tournament and cash games).  You’re going to need lady luck on your side to cash out but the basic principles of poker are present, but with the addition of far more advanced concepts such as tournament equity, ICM and M-Ratios.   Winning poker tournaments is all about the ability to spot exposable situations and accumulate more chips then your opponents.  There is alot of theory and EV strategy involved in this.  For example, knowing how to exploit position, how to re-steal from limpers on the blinds, when to jam preflop with regards to yourself and your opponents stack.  Also, what’s really important for winning poker tournaments (as Hellmuth and Negreanu have stated many times), is hand reading ability.  Knowing what range of hands to put an opponent on, the likelihood of him calling your raise and his previous betting patterns is all essential to tournaments.  Using the massive amount of poker tournament software out there such as Sharkscope, SNGWizard, PokerStove will improve your game, and those who utilise it best will perform better in poker tournaments.

So, in conclusion, poker tournaments are not entirely about skill, and they do contain more variance and situations dependable on luck than cash games; however there is so much strategy and advanced concepts for winning poker players to learn that it’s borderline conspiracy to label tournaments as a game of luck. 

Poker Tournament Myth 2: You Cannot Turn Around a Positional Disadvantage

Positional advantage is the key to playing most hands +EV in poker tournaments.  However, there are occasionally ways around this.  For example, in this article how to defend blinds in poker tournaments I show how limping from the BB against a tight-post flop player, and then betting out on the flop can actually be +EV play.  He will only hit the flop 1/3 of the time, so you can take advantage of your early position post-flop.

Poker Tournament Myth 3: Poker Tournaments are Less Profitable than Cash Games

This one makes me laugh.  Poker tournaments are winnable, and the potential amount you can win from tournaments is massive.  However in any case, the profits you make from cash games or tournaments really depends on your playing style and which you’re better suited to.  Naturally aggressive players such as Chip Reese and Dan Harrington always perform better in tournaments for example. 

As a percentage of poker income, poker tournament wins can easily dominate your revenue streams. Joe Hachem and Peter Eastgate each made approximately $7 million in the 2008/2009 WSOP Main Event.  They nowhere near made this much playing in cash games.

Likewise Phil Ivey, one of the richest poker players in the world has made approximately $13 million from tournament wins (approximately $4.8 million have come from WSOP wins).  Now, he may have made more from playing Omaha $4000/8000 cash games at the Bellagio or $400/$800 at Tilt Poker, but considering how long each tournament Ivey played lasted, his winnings ($220,000) in the 2006 WSOP $2,500 Omaha Hi/Lo Tournaments aren’t bad for just a few days work! 

In conclusion, a single tournament pay-day can earn you hundreds more than a month’s playing of cash games.

Poker Tournament Myth 4: You Need the Right Hands to Win a Poker Tournament

I can draw sympathy for players who crash out in the early stages of an online poker tournament because they didn’t get the hands.  However, there are various stealing situations and aggressive +EV moves you can make to accumulate chips with donk hands.  I’ve written an article about it here: best situations to steal chips in a tournament.

I’m not too stubborn to admit getting the right hands is important to winning a poker tournament.  Afterall, when the blinds are 50/100 and your chipstack is only 1,000 there’s very little opportunities for stealing.  What I’m trying to say, is that you will always be faced with situations in a tournament where you can accumulate chips with +EV – even if you don’t have the best hands.  A well-timed J7 re-steal against a weak pre-flop limper holding 88 on the Big Blinds can just as easily take down the pot.

Poker Tournament Myth 5: Every Poker Tournament should be played the same

I don’t even want to write this one, because just arguing the case almost drives me into an apoplexic rage.

Every structure of tournament requires a slightly different play/style of tournamrnt strategy, from satellite games and freezeouts, to knockout MTTs and deep stacks

Asides from this, your strategy in each poker tournament should depend on your opponents and the conditions specific to that game only.  Even the payoff places should affect your play in the bubble – along with the buy-in fee, number of entrants, prizepool etc etc.

One Response to “Poker Tournament Myths”

  1. Dave says:

    Chip Reese a better tournament player? He was almost exclusively cash game player