Thinking Long-term with Poker Tournaments

by Jeremy Olson

It’s human nature to think about the short-term when it comes to poker tournaments because you want to experience success right away. For example, if you play 10 poker tournaments a day, you want to come out on top after all the time you’ve put into these events.

Unfortunately, thinking like this just isn’t realistic because there is so much variance involved in tourneys. It’s very possible that you could go without cashing in 30 tournaments or more during a major downswing - no matter how good you are at poker strategy. Obviously this is depressing and defeating to think about, which is why it’s extremely important to view poker success in the long-term.

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Measuring Poker Tournament Success - Instead of worrying about how you do in a session or week’s worth of tournaments, a much better idea is to focus on month-long or even three-month intervals. For example, you’d track your play over the course of three months, then determine your profitability in poker tournaments over this time period.

Aside from just determining overall profits, it’s important to take a more in-depth look at how you fare in each style of tournament. For instance, are you making lots of money in 180-man MTT’s, yet losing money in huge guaranteed tournaments? Do you crush 9-man SNG’s, yet struggle in HU SNG’s? Being able to answer these questions is very important when trying to measure your success.

Consider Field Sizes - Never forget the major role that field sizes play in regards to tournament variance. For instance, if you play in a $100k Guaranteed event where 1,000 players buy in, you’re going to be dealing with far more variance than a simple HU SNG.

This being the case, you really need to focus on smaller poker tournaments if you’ve got a small bankroll. As you make money, you can continue to take shots at the bigger tournaments in order to hit a huge score.