Most poker players try to build their roll playing in cash games, and then take a shot at one of the tournaments offered. Although simple enough in theory, the challenge in choosing the right tournament for you remains a tough one.
You will hear a lot of players state that they don't usually play tournaments or that this is the first time they have played Razz. Are these people just crazy, or do they genuinely believe they have a chance?
Some poker players are blessed with amazing card sense that they can quickly adapt to new games. But for most of us, if we are honest with ourselves there are probably only a few games we have a good chance of doing well at.
Generally poker players enjoy winning money, which is why game selection is so important. The more money we win, the more fun we have, the more lucrative our business is. Sure, our skills are always improving, but the quickest way to winning is to find a bunch of players who are worse than us and beat up on them.
Cash games are often described by poker players as their bread and butter, due to their significantly lower variance compared to tournaments and to the opportunities they afford for better players to use their edge to come out ahead.
However, a lot of good, winning cash-game players come into tournament poker with high expectations of doing well. After a few World Series events playing against people they perceive as inferior players, they come out with nothing to show for it other than a bunch of $10 food vouchers.
Even with their knowledge that tournament poker has a high degree of luck associated with it, they feel that their edge hasn't been rewarded. This might be correct in some instances, but the truth is that, for many of these players, tournament poker isn't for them, especially events where there is no deep-stack play.
Compared to the thousands of hands of poker you can play online in a period of time, a tournament might only be played over the life of 300 hands. In a cash game a player can rebuy at will, but in a tournament, once you run out of chips, it's game over.
Therefore the greatest skill required is patience. So while the cash players have the skills to outplay their tournament counterparts, they often they don't hang around long enough to use them. They don't have the patience to wait for the right situation before springing their trap.
The tournament player can face the same pitfalls. Apart from trying to switch to playing cash games, be honest and tell yourself that even though you are a good No-Limit Hold'em player, perhaps you shouldn't play the $5k Rebuy 2-7 event.
Finding that blend between having fun, trying new things and not losing your bankroll taking "shots" is that tricky skill that can help keep a poker player's sanity intact. This summer, set your ego aside, look at yourself in the mirror and work out a strategy to stay ahead of your game.