Avoid These Costly Mistakes in Poker Tournaments

Live and online poker tournaments have exploded in popularity in the past 5-7 years. Most recently a 21 years old kid named Joe Cada won the WSOP main event and pocketed the unbelievable sum of $8,546,435.

A expected these frequently televised poker event draw crowds of young men and women attracted by the potential fortunes that can be made at these games. But it is not as easy as it seems and for one Joe Cada there are hundreds of players who lose or just make small profits.

If you want to play like Cada, you should first know how to avoid some of these common poker tournament mistakes.

Poker tournament errors

Reraise with the wrong hands: many players reraise with hands like JJ, TT, 99, AQ or AJ. You play medium pairs and small pairs {JJ-22} mostly with the aim to see the flop cheaply and to get a (concealed) set. But these hands should almost never be used to 3-bet pre flop. One exception is when you are in the blinds and the button raises as a steal. Medium pairs are good hands to reraise, or "resteal" as a semi-bluff.

Call a player who shoves: no-limit texas holdem is a game of situations and your actions depend on a series of factors such as blinds/antes, position of the players involved in the hand, stack sizes. There is never just one way to play the hand, but there are ways that are almost certainly wrong.

Say for example that a straightforward player pushes all in from early position. The questions you must ask yourself before making a decision are: is he desperate because the blinds are approaching? is he a solid player? is he an aggressive player? how much of your stack does it cost to call him? etc.

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Call a raise from the blinds with marginal hands: it is ok to lose your blinds and you do not have to systematically protect them. When the blinds are high and you have an average stack, be very careful with which hands you play from the blinds. A hand like A7o will cause headaches if an ace comes on the flop. However, you can defend with small connectors, as the implied odds are usually good enough to play such deceptive hands.

When you become short-stacked, choose the time when you will shove. It is best to push your stack with a marginal hand when you are first to act, rather than to do so with an average hand after one or two players are already in the pot.

Play ace-rag too aggressively: {AT-A2} are dangerous hands. Never call a raise with them, almost never raise with them and never play them from early position. Ace-rags hands become only valuable if you are first to act in late position or in a short-handed game.

Not profiling players enough: for example if a player makes a raise, does he have a strong hand? what type of player is he? LAG, maniac, rock? is he in early position or late position? if a rock raises behind three limpers, expect nothing less than QQ+ and maybe AKs. On the other hand if all players fold to the button who is a solid player and he raises, expect almost any two cards.

Always clearly identify the players before making your first action. If you have a very aggressive player on your left, go cautiously with marginal hands because he will raise you with many hands. If you have weak tight players on your right, do not hesitate to raise them when they limp.

Avoid all the above tournament errors and you will gain confidence in poker tourneys and start making more money. Try Powerpoker for their great tournament program.


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