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Online Texas Hold’em – Cash Games verses Tournaments (Play Video Poker)
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Online Texas Hold’em – Cash Games verses Tournaments

August 22nd, 2006

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I received an email recently from a reader who was bragging that her Texas Hold’em game play has greatly improved, since she started playing in online sit & go tournaments. She went on to say that not only does she feel like she is a better player, she enjoys playing a lot more now that she’s gotten over her initial fear of sitting in at a poker tourney. This is not uncommon and there are a couple of logical reasons why.

First, when you’re playing in a cash game, it’s possible to lose your entire bankroll on a single hand. When this happens, you’ll have to make an additional deposit before you can play again. In tournament play, your entry fee buys you a certain number of chips (1,500 is a typical amount), if you go all in and lose, you’ve simply lost your entry fee and you most likely will still have some money left in your bankroll. Also, in most tourney’s multiple players will finish “in the money”. For example, in a typical single table sit & go tourney, the top three finishers will earn something. Meaning, if you make it through to the final three, you’ll win back your entry fee plus a little something extra.

Next, when you’re playing in a cash game; players tend to come and go. It’s frustrating to just start getting a read on a particular player then have them simply up and leave the table. Further, a new player is usually pretty quick to hop in and take their place. Now, you have to start watching this new player and hope you can get a read on their style of play before they also take off. This doesn’t happen in tournaments as players who leave prior to the end of the simply lose. Also, tournaments are closed once play has begun so there is no worry of a new player sitting in.

Finally, just as you’re trying to get a read on the other players at your table, the other players are trying to get a read on you. It takes time to cultivate the appropriate table reputation. It makes sense for your opponents to head for an easier table, if they see you dominating the table in a cash game. Once again, this is not an issue in tournament play as leaving the table means forfeiting any chance of winning.

So as you can see, if you’re a “thinking player”, it makes perfect sense that your game will improve once you try tournament play. I’d advise any newbie poker player to first study the basics of the game then learn a tight Texas Hold’em strategy, then jump in to the exciting world of tournaments.

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Survive and Thrive Tournament Strategy

August 16th, 2006

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Tournament play is much different from table play in , and even the specific type and set up of the tournament will dictate what kind of a strategy a player should take. While every tournament and every table demands a different specific strategy, one of the few tournament strategies that can generally consistently works for a large series of players is the survive and thrive strategy. Survive and thrive is exactly that: you thrive in the tournament and make the money not by playing wildly and doubling up ten times, but by avoiding playing as often as possible, playing extremely conservatively, and then playing hard only when you have a strong advantage.

The true survive and thrive strategy is difficult for many players because it does require such a conservative approach that even goes beyond what a conservative table player would play. Throwing away pocket 8s or 9s pre-flop is not uncommon, but a tournament requires a different type of thinking than a normal table. At a table you can re-buy, or switch gears knowing the blinds are always the same. Large tournaments are not like this. The blinds raise to keep putting pressure on the lowest stacks and to push the tournament towards conclusion. Losing even a few minor hands early will have you feeling the squeeze of the blinds, and may force you into a situation of going all in on a hand that you really do not want to push all your chips in with.

Survive and thrive does not mean to play extremely weak, however. When you get pocket As, you should push all in. Same with pocket Ks. The reason for this strong aggression is that since you dont play many hands, you want to cash in when you do. These are hands that start you out as a 67-75% favorite. This is an incredible advantage, and it you double up once or twice, then you can sit out even more handseven throwing away pocket 10s or 9s when there are a lot of scary pre or post flop raises ahead of you, and you think someone might have you beat. Why risk money on a coin flip hand or worse, when you can wait until you are a 4 to 1 favorite?

Basically with a survive and thrive strategy, you are letting other players take the chances and knock each other out, and with each disaster you avoid, you keep crawling nearer and nearer to the paid places. Not only to the raising knock players out, but you will notice as the blinds get higher and higher players seem to go nuts right before another raise. There are many times with only $1,500 in chips in an and thirty spots out of placing I watched guys with $2,000 chips go all in, two $4,000 chips go all in, and another high stack call. Those are four players that should have outlasted mebut instead three were knocked out when they did not have to take that chance. As long as you are not knocked out, you have a chance to place.

Players get really wild and excessive as the blinds go up. If you can steal an occasional blind, do so. The advantage of survive and thrive is that if you only play hands worth going all in on, then when you go all in to steal blinds no one is going to want to call you, so you can keep yourself afloat since even blind stealing becomes safer when you use this strategy. With survive and thrive, when there is any doubt at all, fold or run. When you are sure you are ahead, make your opponent go all in to call you, because youwant all of his or her chips to keep up your conservative, yet strong, playing. This is the best strategy to consistently place in tournaments, especially in online tournaments where blinds tend to go up very quickly.

What if everyone keeps folding? That is great! If no one wants to call you, keep stealing blinds and low bets to keep yourself above those blinds, and avoid the temptation of jumping into the feeding frenzies unless you absolutely have an unbeatable hand. Play this way and success will be yours!

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