Poker Tournaments Are The Best And The Worst And That's Why I Love Them



Look at that! God damn, I think you can rightfully call your congressman and have a case tried in the Supreme Court if that happens to you. Poker, man. I fucking love it. 

Thing is, I play mostly tournaments. I dabble in cash, I'll blast off a buy-in here or there, but tournaments are my bread and butter, if I had bread or butter. I'm not like...a great tournament player, but I'm ok. I'm good enough. I'm certainly better than most people, but I'm so much worse than the actual pros. But what makes tournament poker so beautiful is sometimes, that just doesn't matter.

I love tournaments way more than cash because I love having something to compete for. I love looking at payouts and knowing there is a clear winner who gets the most money. Nobody likes running just to run, but when you can run a race and beat people, that's what feels great. Same thing with me in poker, I love knocking people out. I love moving up in pay jumps. And I love how much more money there is for first place than every other place. 

I recently finished in 8th place out of 3,000 on a poker site that must not be named for $1,800. Solid score, sure. But there was $18,750 for first. Fucking BUMMED. I played great too, just wasn't meant to be as I lost 66 vs T8 all in pre to go out in 8th. WP, gg. 

A couple days later I'm sitting 7th out of 45 remaining in a tournament that has $27,000+ for first. I had my eyes on it. 36 places paid in this tournament and I was feeling really good. And then it all fell apart. Lost AK to 88 after I flopped a King, 8 on the river. Very next hand I had TT on the button and opened, the big blind shoved their last 13 bigs with J7dd, flop came 2 diamonds. Very next hand I lose 77 to AJ all in pre, and that was it for me. 7/45 to out in 3 hands. 

And that is why tournament poker is so sick. I win that AK vs 88 hand, everything is different. But who cares, that's just a basic flip, it happens, I lost, oh well. The TT vs J7, if I hold there I'm back in the top 15 in chips in the tournament and the AK hand barely even seems like it happened. If just one of those 3 hands goes differently, who knows how different everything would be. Do I go on to final table it? Or do I run Kings into Aces 3 hands later and bust? 

That's why to figure out truly if you're good at tournaments you need to put in a ton, and I mean a TON, of volume. You can't just play 10, or 30, or 100, or 500 tournaments and know your true ability or ROI. You can lose every key flip deep in tournaments for a long stretch of time and feel like the worst player in the world, or you can win those key flips and feel like god damn Phil Ivey and absolutely unbeatable. 

But they are so great because in poker, you don't have to be the best to make a deep run (like me!). If you know a little bit about ABC poker, know a little about ranges and bet sizing, push/fold, and run pure, you too can make a deep run. The best in the world dissect the game like a surgeon- they can spend an hour deciding what the optimal bet size is in any given situation, breaking down the math and %s like god damn Albert Einstein. It's actually remarkable to sit in a room with the best of the best and hear them talk about hands, it's like they are speaking a different language. Meanwhile on that same hand I'd be like "yeah I dunno, I had a pair so I went with it". 

In live tournaments, the feeling of shipping a huge pot is unbeatable. Stacking your chips, building towers, and then putting them into a bag at the end of a long day is heaven. Online is great too, of course, but boy do I miss playing those live tournaments. With Vegas and casinos re-opening, let us pray there is no 2nd wave and we will have some sort of live tournament series in the Fall. 

My dream is to do something similar to the Golf Classic but with poker, but we'll see what the powers that be say. I think running tournaments in all the Penn casinos with a grand finale in Vegas would go over like gangbusters. Would be unreal cool to do. Maybe we can do it. 

If you do play online poker, good luck and gosh bless. And if you play live, hope to see you there soon.