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Nothing frustrates me more than a poker opponent sucking out on me in
the final rounds of a tournament. Poker is mathematically statistical, so
you have to expect to lose with the best hand a certain percentage of the
time. I have won tournaments in which I was the one who sucked out on
the river. It just gets really frustrating when you have been playing a
tournament for hours, reach the final table, and lose with a superior
hand. Even worse is losing a nice pot with A’s against an A,2 or a low-
pair. It happens all the time. Just stay calm, do not go on tilt, and
remember that in the long run, if you play solid poker, you will come out
ahead.  

Over time, I have learned to relax and stay calm when I lose a big hand.
Sometimes, your opponent has the only pair you need to worry about
when you have pocket K’s. It happens. Other times, I will lose to a
completely inferior hand, and I get so mad that someone would call me
with such garbage, and worse, win the pot with it. After playing for a few
years online and at various casinos around the country, I learned quickly
that people are going to call your raises and all-ins with virtually nothing
and win. Just remember, poker is based on statistics, and in the long run,
you will win by only playing the better hands and using basic strategy to
take the blinds once in a while, and keep your blinds once in a while.

When playing in a tournament, you have to alter your play according to
the general style of the table you are playing on, the timing of the game,
and your position at the table.

If people are playing loosely on your table, wait for a great hand and put
your money where your mouth is, slide all your chips in. I find this
strategy to work best in re-buy tournaments in which multiple players will
call your all-in trying to double up before the first break, and in generally
low stakes cash games. This strategy also works in higher stakes
tournaments where your opponents will think really hard before calling an
all-in with an A,2, or a low pair. Never be a chip pusher, but when you
have a hand, let your opponent know. If your table is playing more
conservatively, you should limp in with the rest of them, especially in
tournaments where in the early rounds of betting the blinds are cheap. I’
m not saying to play total garbage, but now you can see if your 10, K of
spades gets any help by the flop. Always take advantage of the way your
opponents at your table are playing.

Just as important as the style of play at your table is the timing. In any
tournament, as the final table approaches, most players will opt to fold
almost any hand to get to the final table, or get in the money. They
change their play based on the time of the tournament. This phenomenon
in poker is referred to as “the gap” and is an important thing to take
advantage of. Loosen up a little bit when everyone else is folding their
hands. Raise a nice amount when you have an A or a K,10. If your
opponent has a superior hand, they will let you know and are likely to re-
raise you, and by all means, fold. Just remember that overall, the gap
theory is sound and when these type of opportunities arise, you need to
take advantage of them.

Finally, you should always take advantage of your position at the poker
table. The most advantageous position at a poker table is the button. On
the button, you have the opportunity to read all of your opponents play
before you have to act. If someone makes a big raise, it will be before you
have to act, so if you were considering playing your 9,10 suited, fold. If
everyone in front of you limps, or mostly fold, take a stab at the blinds
once in a while. Throw in three to four times the blind. Most of the time,
your opponents will fold. If they call to see a flop, I usually bet again. If
your opponent hit their hand, they will most likely re-raise you or put you
all-in. If not, they will most likely fold their hand rather than throwing
more chips at it. Take advantage of this. When in the blinds, always be
wary of the button. It is general strategy for the button position to raise
when all preceding players have folded. Fold your hand if you have
nothing, but stand up for yourself once in a while, or opponents will notice
that you fold a lot after a raise and take advantage of this.

I personally think that patience and a bit of aggressiveness when you do
have a good hand make for good tournament and cash play. I have
reached many final tournament tables by waiting out the early all-ins in re-
buy tournaments. I can usually start adding more substance to my stack
after the re-buy period ends and the general play tightens up. In cash
games on the internet poker rooms, it never ceases to amaze me what
people will call my all-ins with. When I go all-in, I have a hand, and always
welcome a call. Always remember that it’s the long run that counts, and
by playing solid hands and taking advantage of key elements of the
game, especially your opponent’s play, you will come out ahead.

I have played many cash games and tournaments at various poker rooms
on the internet. I will discuss some of my favorites, and let you know why
I like certain sites. I will also be keeping you updated on the WSOP Main
Event and WPT events. Stay tuned for more.

Full Tilt Poker is a great poker room and I would recommend that you
check it out.
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