Going on a poker tournament for the first time can be quite overwhelming that more often than not will cause you to forget the basic things you should bring before you board that flight. It is important to have a poker checklist before going to a tournament to make sure you do not miss out anything important that may cost you a big loss going into the table.
Beginning from the basics to the most important, here are the items you have to tick off your poker checklist:
Your Complete Checklist Before a Poker Tournament
Often overlooked by most since they think the venue has available snack bars or cafeteria they can try when they get there. However, you must keep in mind that this means you have to constantly walk over, stand in line, and wait for your turn. This does not guarantee that you can go back to your table on time. To avoid this, better bring some basic food items with you to help you sustain your energy. Keep in mind that these should be ready to eat even when you are standing or waiting for the next round to begin. Food items you can bring may include apple slices, bananas, beef jerky, dried fruits, energy bars, and nuts.
Never forget that keeping yourself well hydrated throughout the entire tournament is important. Whilst most tournaments will have waiters/waitresses walking around with free beverages, you still have to shell out at least a dollar to tip them. If you want to maximise your winnings, opt to just bring your own refillable water jug. You can also choose to refill it with water or energy drink if you feel like it. However, you must also keep in mind that the more you drink beverages, the more frequent you have to make bathroom trips.
Going into a poker tournament is stressful as it is, more so if it is your first time. This overwhelming feeling can cause you to experience headaches, neck pain, and even backaches, especially when you are playing for long hours already. As a precaution, it is best to bring your most reliable painkiller. You can also choose to bring hot patches for backaches.
Candies, Gum, and Cough Drops
Most of the poker tournament venues are heavily air-conditioned and this may cause dry air that can be detrimental to your immediate health. Avoid getting a sore throat by popping some gum or cough drops.
Yes, bringing a lip balm is quite helpful in a poker tournament especially if your lips are prone to chapping.
Poker tournaments often take days to finish and you should be ready to have your maintenance medications ready. Take note that you may hardly get up from your seat and going to the pharmacy is almost always never an option so make sure you never forget your medicines. This may include medications for hypertension, diabetes, heart ailments, and even allergies.
Mobile Phone and its Charger
Nowadays, mobile phones are a necessity. It is crucial to have these in handy during a tournament. Make sure to fill it up with funky good music and other poker-related applications that will help you win big on the table. Of course, along with bringing your mobile phone, you must also have your charger with you. What use would your phone be if it’s dead? Better yet, bring a trusty power bank so you don’t have to stand up and leave your phone on a charging station.
Headphones or Earphones
Majority of poker players claim that music helps them concentrate more on their poker games. Listening to music whilst playing poker is also a good practice to block out distracting noise or blabbering of other players. If you are one of them, make sure to bring a good set of earphones to help you get through the tournament with ease.
As mentioned, poker tournament venues can be heavily air-conditioned. Make sure that you have your jacket to help you regulate your temperature and let you concentrate and your game better.
A number of poker players swear by using aromatics to help them balance their emotional and mental state whilst in a tournament. Some use it to wake them up or relax them in stressful moments.
Contact Lens Solution or Back up Eyeglasses
If you are wearing contact lenses, make sure you have your solution as you may be compelled to remove them especially if you have been wearing them for too long. Better yet, you can switch to your spectacles to rest your eyes a bit.
If you are a believer in luck, there is no harm in bringing a lucky charm.
Although credit cards are commonly used, it is still best to have some cash with you. You’ll never know when a credit card machine will act up. More often than not, you will need cash for tips, side bets, and for blinds.
Your Best Game and Attitude
Nothing is more important than bringing you’re A-game to the day of the tournament. Make sure all that you have read, listened to, and practiced are applied when you are playing already. To do this, you must have a well-rested mind and body. Some pro at poker tournaments arrives about a day early to help their body adjust to the new environment.
Having the right attitude is also crucial in playing in a poker tournament. Whilst you should have that innate desire to win, you must also practice due diligence and know when it is time to stop, give up, and cut losses.
Now that you have the poker checklist before a tournament. It is time to discuss a little something about what you should do when you are at the tournament already.
Useful Poker Tournament Tips and Tricks
Open Small But Often
Remember when you are playing against a weaker opposition, it is best to raise in small increments but do it as often as you can, especially in late position. When it comes to late position, the best attack is to ignore the opening charts and completely focus on your opponents.
Defend Your Big Blind
When you are playing in tournaments, the most important tip to remember is to always defend your big blind. Small open raises only to gain profit half the time. The big blind, oftentimes, cripples poker players. It limits their opportunity for raising as often.
If you are new in poker tournaments, it is always best to flat with hands that carry post-flop playability. Good hands like a suited 9-7 are almost always playable but remember than even weak suited hand can still profit as flats in late position openings.
Never Make a Continuation Bet Every Hand
Many poker players today always practise check-raise bluffing. A lot of them never bluff blindly, especially in tight spots. When you see a flop, try to answer these questions:
- Whose range does the flop hit the best?
- Which of my opponents has the most nutted hands on this board?
- What does my opponent think of my range?
- How does my opponent’s range look like?
You have to consider their way of thinking in order to have the same thought process as them. Keep in mind that a poker tournament player’s thinking is often based on what they are actually holding.
Be Ready for Future Streets
Before you arrive at a decision during a pre-flop, flop, or turn, you should already have a concrete plan for the most likely outcome. Just a rough idea will do.
Train Yourself to Play Heads Up
When attending poker tournaments you should already position yourself to play in heads up. Besides, you attend a tournament to win. You always have to be the better player. The best advice is to study and practice heads up as it will help you sharpen your post-flop skills. Practice and study so you will get used to playing with wide ranges.
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