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Crushing Live Poker Tournaments in 2019

3,485 Views on 20/11/19

It’s definitely no longer easy to make big bucks in online poker tournaments as it once was

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It’s definitely no longer easy to make big bucks in online poker tournaments as it once was. Fortunately, we still have another option available to us. 

In the days that followed Black Friday, all the way back in April 2011, US-based players embarked on a mass exodus to the live arena. Everybody was talking about how soft the games were, but that kind of chat has steadily died off.

Live cash games have definitely gotten tougher, but what about live tournaments?

Live tournaments at the lower limits are still super soft and worth checking out. This is where all the fun players looking for one night’s glory go. The lad’s night out kind of thing. 

Serious professionals will be lurking for sure, but unlike the cash tables tournaments will have plenty of people donating EV to your cause. Some of these guys will be treating the event like a video poker session.

Let’s take a look at some tips to get you ready for you first live tournament.

Tight Is Right

The first thing you will likely notice is how different the pre flop ranges can be compared to online

. You must work out quickly who is what type of player.

Another major red flag that you will see a lot in live games is the prevalence of limpers. While limping is seen as more normal in live tournaments than cash games, it is still a great way to pick up on who the weakest players at your table are.

Stacking off ranges can vary wildly compared to online games, particularly with deep stacks.

Be wary of any rocks who will only ever do this with pocket aces or kings, and keep your eye out for recs who clearly have no idea which hands are strong enough to stack off with.

Start Early

Many players think the early stages of a tournament are not important. It is true that the real profit is made from your late stage decisions, but this isn’t the same as agreeing that you can ignore all of the +EV opportunities that come in the early game.

Just think about all of the new players who are playing a live poker tournament for the first time. Do you think they will deliberately avoid playing for the first hour or so? Absolutely not.

This is why you must make sure you are in place to take advantage right from the get go.

Abuse Your Fold Equity

When the stacks get to a medium depth, you will be in a prime position to exploit unaware players by jamming all-in over their open raise. Because the stacks are starting to get shallow, the amount of chips you win compared to what you started the hand with make it a great result whenever you can pull this off.

You will notice that players tend to defend their big blind more often in a tournament. For this reason you must pay special attention to who calls wide and who doesn’t adjust.

Players who remain cautious when they should be fighting more are ripe to exploit by opening super wide in late position.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Any advice on crushing live poker tournaments is incomplete without a brief discussion on tells. The ability to read a player by their physical actions is invaluable when it comes to live poker.

The best part of all of this is that recreational players will only be thinking about their “poker face”. All the other tells that can be picked up through glancing and the movement of chips give away so much more.

The classic book Caro’s Book of Poker Tells is well worth a read if you are moving from online to live poker.


Mark Patrickson

Mark Patrickson is a professional cash game player grinding stakes up to 100nl 6 Max NL Hold'em13 years experience of poker, across MTT SnG and cash, FL PL NL.Currently living in South East Asia and trying to make it back to mid-stakes befo ... Read More


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