Welcome to the cheap seats

Welcome to the cheap seats

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Dear Dr Tom,

What is the best approach for playing cheap live tournaments (£20 to £50 buy-in) with a super-fast structure and 20 to 30 minute levels? Should I treat them like online turbos or can you afford to be more patient than that? The quality of opposition seems very poor.

Darren, Weymouth

Dear Darren,

You’ll hear it said that in a comp like this you’ve “got to gamble”. It’s true but in a rather specific way. The gambling involved means being prepared to put your tournament life on the line with A-J versus K-Q with no hesitation. It doesn't matter that in a sensibly paced tourney you could run rings around the muppet with K-Q without risking your neck. In this game, by the time you get A-J again, you’ll have lost 20% of your chips to the blinds. So “gambling” really means not gambling on getting a better situation any time in the near future. And what gambling definitely doesn't mean is shovelling your chips in the middle with the slightest excuse hoping to double up even if you’ve likely got the worst of it simply because…well, you’ve got to gamble, right?

As for patience, you should probably play these tourneys at a similar speed or even faster than you play an online turbo. But don’t forget that’s in terms of hands played, not minutes elapsed. Live poker is slow and you have to adjust your internal clock or you’ll be getting it all in twice on every revolution of the button. So yes, you need to practise a bit of patience.

Needless to say, the purpose of this structure is to minimise the amount of poker you get for your tournament registration fee and hasten your transfer to the cash tables, so you have a think about whether this tourney presents you with value for money. However, as you note, the opposition will have a distinct recreational element to it. The fact that there is so little skill to be exercised in fast structured tournaments deters the better players. You may feel like these comps don't allow you to exercise enough control over pots, but the edge comes not from masterly plays but simply doing fewer daft things than the average opponent who sits down in this kind of crapshoot.


Tags: Dr Tom