How to Prepare for a Long Poker Tournament

You’ve finally ponied up and decided to play a big multi-table long poker tournament. You’ve got a long time ahead of you if you’re hoping to win this thing.

We have the Top 20 tips for you on how to be successful before, during, and when on break from the tournament.

  1. Sleep- Before the tournament, make sure to get more than your usual amount of rest. The odds are you’ll be nervous so if you usually get seven hours, try going to bed nine hours before you need to wake up. During dinner breaks, usually an hour or two, make sure to try and nap for a few minutes if you can. If you aren’t a good napper, go somewhere quiet and make sure to close your eyes. This is the time to let yourself relax and regain the focus you’ll need later. 
  2. Stretch- If you fold a hand, don’t be afraid to stand up, stretch, walk around the table, shake yourself up. Sitting for long extended periods of time will tire you out. Make sure every once in and a while you’re active. You should still be focusing on the action at your table. If you aren’t in the current hand, no need to sit and focus.
  3. Backup Battery- Whether you use your phone or a music player, make sure you have enough juice to last you the full day. 
  4. Meal Prep- Make sure to plan your meals accordingly, breaks included. The fewer decisions you have to make on break, the better. Have a plan, and always have a little something to snack on in case you start to feel yourself falling asleep.
  5. Stay hydrated- Water, water, energy drink if you need to towards the last 2 hours of play. Even if you miss a hand running to the washroom, it’s much better than dehydration. 
  6. Have headphones- Even if you aren’t listening to music, have a pair in case you get a talkative table and don’t want to participate. This is not a concern when playing online! 
  7. Have a short memory- Bad beats happen, as long as it’s not for all your chips, try and forget about it. Don’t hold grudges against players at your table.
  8. Determine a level of focus- Will you try and study the players at your table, will you only focus on your hand or the range of others’ hands?  
  9. Know then the breaks are! How much longer until you get a mental break, how many average chips makes sense to have before a break? If you are low stacked and a two-hour dinner break is coming, maybe be more aggressive than wait around to come back to increased blind to find out you waited around for nothing. 
  10. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming too friendly. Understand your image at the table. You are here to win this thing.
  11. Try not to bluff in multi-player hand situations- Too many people will call if you bluff against more than one person. Be careful.
  12. Slowly build your stack strategy- Play tight at first, only big hands.
  13. Understand what distracts you. If there are TVs around, if you can find here other music or sound, try and figure out what is keeping you from your focus and drown it out. Focus is important in a long poker tournament. 
  14. Protect your hand at all times- Announce what you will do before you do it. When looking at your hand, make sure no one else can see your cards.
  15. Play aggressive before long breaks and before the bubble- It’s better to build your stack and not be afraid as others will want to just make it to the next break or into the money. This is the best time to become uber aggressive. Don’t fear losing.
  16. Don’t fall in love with your hands- You can fold Queens on an Ace or King Flop. Learn to be ok folding Queens on a 7-8-9 flop if the action in front of you or behind you goes, bet-raise-all-in. You can fold. It’s ok.
  17. When the tables get short-handed or hand for hand- Play more hands, Ace X, King 9. Fewer people are your table means fewer premium hands can be out there.
  18. Psychology of making the final table. Everyone wants to cash and make a final table, but being aggressive and not fearing missing out will protect you if your chip stack keeps building in non-all in situations. Don’t fear missing out, if you take eleventh being aggressive or ninth literally folding until your blinded away, you’ll get over it quicker, knowing aggression wins the day.
  19. Seeing through the prize pool. Sure, the money is nice, and after the tournament, you can be satisfied with whatever position you take. Remember, people always want to make more, and they’re waiting for others to make the mistake of going out. This thinking holds a lot of players back. You need chips to win. You can’t get chips folding.
  20. Be humble in defeat or victory. Even if you get sucked out on, even if the guy slow-rolled you, be humble. Say “Nice Hand, Good Game.” And if you win, do the same…