Survival mode is key in poker tournaments



More often than not, when players commiserate their tournament exit, by default they often go to the last hand played and get into conversations on whether they played it right, etc.

Reviewing one’s last hand is fine; just don’t put too much credence in it. When players email or approach me with their last hand, invariably I inquire about their early strategy and how many chips did they accrue before the middle stage and or late stage. Most tournament players refuse to embrace the concept that if they’re playing A-plus tournament poker, they make the money 15 percent of the time. That’s it, just 15 percent.

The pro, who makes the money just 15 percent of the time, is the one who gets to the final table with a ton of chips. This translates to a big payday. They’ve learned not to play to make the money; they play to win.

Many strong players make the money almost half the time. This takes super solid play and is a style better served in cash play. If you feel like this, shoot me an email. Players who want to hit a big payday must focus on their early play by taking chances to accrue a big stacks. You should wear getting knocked out early as a badge of honor. Of course this is hard to do. No one wants to pony up $1K and suffer an early exit.

Recently, I entered a satellite to play in the Arizona State Poker Championship and won the seat. The ASPC brought more than 1,800 players, many of whom fired more than one $1,100 bullet, and first place paid $250K.

I placed 42nd for $7,920. Throughout the event, I never was short-stacked, but I was below average chips most of the way through until late on Day 2 when my stack soared to 1.5M. Through two days and 18 hours of play, I avoided all-in situations whereby I was calling while behind. I was picking my spots. This is how you accrues chips. And yes, there was one hand in which I ran into a brick wall and managed to gut shot a straight, but again, I was pushing. Not calling.

With blinds at 20K-40K-40K and a 1.2M stack, I got away from my early- and middle-stage strategy. In short, when the blinds are increasing to 30K-60K-60K, we have to make adjustments. – Mark Brement

Chris Cosenza

Chris Cosenza