Playing in Poker Tournaments

If you are willing to wait until you find a good game and exhibit good discipline, playing in cash games is a steady way to make a few bucks online. When you limit your risk by playing in small games, such as $3–$6 and below, you can compete against players who lack either the bankroll or experience to move up to the higher levels. Sure, there are some sharks at the lower levels, such as players who are waiting for seats in bigger games, but if you know what you’re about, you can gain a pretty safe edge over the lower-limit games and learn to avoid the skilled players.

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What you don’t find in cash games is the huge payoff for a day’s work. In a poker cash game, three hours of solid play against lesser opponents can net you $20 an hour or so, but $60 isn’t exactly life-changing money. No, to get the big money you have to play in tournaments, where anywhere from 20 to 2,000 players sit down together and see who comes out on top. Chris Moneymaker, the Tennessee accountant who turned a $39 PokerStars online tournament buy-in into the $2 million 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event first prize, is the poster boy for online poker. The 2004 World Series winner, Greg Raymer, is also a PokerStars player, though he had competed in several previous WSOP main events and plays a lot of high-limit Stud at Foxwoods casino in Connecticut.

The remainder of this chapter discusses tournament strategies you can follow to maximize your chances of finishing in the money. For further reading, be sure to pick up a copy of Championship Tournament Poker by Tom McEvoy (Cardoza, 2004). Tom is a WSOP veteran and an exceptional tournament player, so you should listen to what he says when it comes to tournaments.

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