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Nightly Tournament Tips

Whilst waiting for the next thousand pound festival event, which should be all of four days away, there is money to be made in the regular 50 and 100 nightly tournaments in a provincial casino near you. Winning one of these is akin to a free seat and expenses into the next festival, so are definitely not to be sneezed at. I'm sure some of the players rumoured to be permanently skint could do worse than wind their neck and ego in far enough to pick the low hanging fruit on offer. I've been playing a few recently and have some tips to get you started:

  1. When facing a decision for your tournament life, you need to be able to accurately put you opponent on a hand. Let me show you how this is done with an example. UTG comes in for a raise, you defend your button with Ks7s and call a pot sized bet on the flop and turn. Now your opponent has moved in on the river and has you covered. The board reads Kh Qh Jh Th 7d. People are far too quick to pinpoint an exact holding and should instead work through the information on offer. Well, a royal or straight flush is so rare you can discount that. He can't have a straight or a flush because you can't beat those hands. He can't have a better 2 pairs because you have a king in your hand. This means through a process of elimination he must have a worse 2 pair or total air. As you beat his entire range, you have a trivial call.
  2. The biggest mistake players make is to change their minds. For example, you are dealt K6s in the hijack and the blinds have been playing supremely tight, a good spot to pick up chips or to force them to gamble with the worst of it. UTG open-raises, next player calls it cold and then the chip leader in mid position comes over the top. Don't lose your focus. You had a plan, stick to it, pull the trigger. If you get played with, you have plenty of outs with a King or a 6 both being good for the pot.
  3. Any time you are thinking of moving in on the turn with an absolute lock, don't forget the accompanying speech. The best two to choose from are either 'is there one seat still free in the cash game?' or 'I could do with an early night' This should make it impossible for anyone contemplating the call to decipher the true strength of your hand.
  4. On no account should you put your blinds in to the pot unprompted. Always wait for the dealer to instruct you and then only do so just as the dealer is pitching cards to your end of the table, it's more fun. When the running antes kick in and everyone else has anted up, stare at the chip in front of each player and then look blankly at the dealer. It is unreasonable of the dealer to expect you to draw any kind of conclusion from the visual clues on offer and should be happy to prompt you once per hand for your ante, it is what they get paid for.
  5. You have made it to the last 12 and are at 2 tables of 6. You are in seat 6, which means your correct seating assignment is just to the left of the central marker on the felt. On no account should you move round a little bit to your left, those 4 remaining empty chairs are entitled to equal table space.
  6. When a player hasn't played a hand for the last two levels, they are actually loose players, but card dead. Bide your time, eventually their patience will snap and they will put a big raise in with a substandard hand under the gun. If you are fortunate enough to be next to act, you can snap call with any reasonable blackjack hand. Don't worry about the 7 players to act behind you or the range of UTG - this is a premium situation and you should be golden.
  7. When deciding how much to raise - don't. There aren't that many chips in these things you know. First of all, ask the dealer how much the blinds are - you have only been on this level for 25 minutes so it won't be clear to you yet. Now pick up a handy amount of chips and sling them in. Should a player then re-raise you all in, now you can take your time and worry about the original bet size. With a little experience, you can intuitively make the first raise just the right size to give you maximum difficulty in working out whether to call or fold to the re-raise.

I hope these tips help you settle in nicely in your local game, see you at the tables!

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