Introduction: Most of What You Know Is Wrong
If you want to make money in pro-level no-limit hold’em tournaments, you must abandon a lot of what you already know about playing poker. If you’ve been playing cash games for years and you consider yourself a solid player, that’s a handicap when you start entering tournaments. Likewise, while there are a lot of books on the market today on how to play tournaments, and some of the tips in these books are excellent, for the most part, the authors who have written these books are handicapped by being a bunch of poker players, or worse, mathematicians! Coming from backgrounds of years of poker play or too much higher education, they focus so much on poker and the mathematics of poker that they miss most of what’s really important about optimal tournament strategy. A tournament is not a poker game, and the mathematics of tournaments is not the mathematics of poker.
Your poker skills and experience will serve you well in these events if you can incorporate them into the optimal tournament strategies, but poker skills without optimal tournament strategy are pretty much wasted in a tournament. A slow-structured no-limit hold’em tournament isn’t about pot odds, effective odds, implied odds, or reverse implied odds. It isn’t about how many outs you have for your nut flush draw. It isn’t even about which starting hands you should play and how you should play them based on your chip stack, position and the action in front of you.
You need not be a mathematician to make money playing poker tournaments. I will explain the math as necessary, but it’s a lot simpler than most authors would have you believe. Tournaments, and especially no-limit tournaments, are comparatively easy to make money in if you stop thinking like a poker player.
The cards you are dealt are the least important factor in your tournament success. If your idea of a great poker book is one that has lots of sample hands with instructions on how to play them, you will be happier with any of the dozens of other tournament books on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. I’m not going to spoon-feed you a lot of hand analyses because I never read them myself. I’ve rarely seen hand examples that answered the questions that have to be answered in real-world tournament situations in order to make a decision. This book will teach you to ask new questions, and give you the means to answer them.
Because this book contains a lot of information that is contrary to the material in other books on how to play poker tournaments, I’m sure many players who have read all the books will disagree with what is revealed within these pages. How can everybody else be wrong? Some noted “authorities” on the game will attempt to refute my findings, just as they tried with The Poker Tournament Formula, and since people don’t abandon their gurus very easily, I don’t really think I have to worry too much about making the fields of tournament players I’m facing significantly stronger. Besides, my experience in three decades of professional gambling has been that even when players know exactly what they should do, most are unable to do it if it requires any guts.
In any case, if you number yourself among the few who aren’t afraid to question authority, and you have the guts to do what you need to do to win, this book is for you. So hang on tight. As race car legend Mario Andretti put it: “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”