Top 5 mistakes rookies make
Fri January 2, 2009, 6:11 pm
Top 5 mistakes rookies make when sitting at the tables with veterans after winning an online satellite
Many players are so happy they won there way into a big event like the World Series of Poker main event, that they lose focus on what there real goal should be. They are just happy to be there as a participant—as well they should be. In reality, there job is just beginning. You should go into this tournament with the attitude that getting into the event is only half of the battle—and really the least important half at that. I know, I know, you can’t win it if your not in it, but except for the thrill and excitement of playing, you should want to set your sights on winning or at least cashing. Just winning a seat does not put any money in your pocket. Of course you can’t put a price on the fun factor, but for me that is not enough. I want to play the best I can and do everything possible to give myself the best chance to win.
Every championship event has a large number of top professional players. Many of these players have been on television and been written up in the various poker magazines. Thinking these players are invincible is a bad error in judgment. Many of the recent World Series of Poker main event champions were total unknown’s before they won the tournament. Since then many of them have become household names in the poker world, but they didn’t start out that way. Poker is a game of mistakes. Top pros make fewer mistakes than amateurs, but even the greatest players still make mistakes just like everybody else. Nobody, no matter how great a player they are, is a favorite to win any particular event before it starts. Everybody is an underdog. The top pros, of course, have a better chance than most of the players in the starting field, but even they are facing long odds. In recent years only a handful of name pros even made the final table of the World Series main event, and none of them won it.
By that I mean, players that have survived for awhile in a major event, become more and more concerned about preserving and protecting what they have won so far. They stop playing to win—instead they are playing not to lose. They become more timid and stop making aggressive plays. This especially occurs when players get close to the money, but aren’t quite there yet. Aggressive players that are willing to take more chances often run over the game—including players with bigger stacks, because nobody wants to gamble until they have at least made a payday. A big stack is a weapon, use it. That does not mean taking foolish chances, but remember, that most of the other players at this stage of the event are just as afraid of you as you might be of them.
In the early stages of a major event, you might have 200 times the big blind in starting chips to begin with. For example, some tournaments start off with blinds of $25 & $50 and give each player $10,000 in chips to start with. That is a lot to work with at the beginning of the event. This is the perfect time to play a few more marginal hands like suited connectors and small pairs. Naturally, you want to play them cheap, but even calling a small raise with them is acceptable. What you are trying to do is flop a big hand and then win as many chips as possible when you hit. If you do make a big hand your strategy should be to bet strongly and make your opponents pay to draw against you. Of course if you have the absolute nuts, your greater concern is how to get your opponents to put the most money in the pot. Making a smaller bet or checking and calling might be the better strategy in that case. The early stages of the tournament is the perfect time to gamble a little bit more. Even if you don’t hit anything, it probably won’t hurt your stack that much, and if you do get lucky, you might double through somebody and have a real shot of winning. Many of the top pros use this strategy right from the start, and if they are successful, they keep doing it even in the middle and later stages of the tournament. An aggressive player with a lot of chips that is willing to mix it up is a very tough opponent indeed.
This can be fatal. Marginal hands like top pair that are probably the best hand at the moment can become losers if they are played too passively and someone gets a free card that beats you. A proper bet would have probably won the pot right there for you, and it gets even worse. That free card beats you and you wind up paying off your opponent. As long as you think you have the best hand, make a bet. One pair hands, in particular, need to be protected. The only way to do that is to bet. Even hands like bottom two pair on the flop are vulnerable and need protection.