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Quick Tournament Tips To Make You Better Today!

by Ryan Laplante |  Published: Jan 10, 2024


I often do in-depth articles focused on a specific topic and try my best to have it be aimed at more advanced level players. For this article I wanted a more broad-spectrum approach and something that everyone could quickly and easily learn something from to immediately help them in their game.

1. Play To Have Fun

Vast majority of the time when you enter a tournament, or even sit down at a cash game, the end result will be a loss. Because of this if you approach it from purely a “I want to do well” point of view, and not a “I want to have fun and play well” point of view, you will often leave upset.

On top of that, playing when you don’t really want to be there can make it very difficult to play your best. So if your goals are to enjoy yourself and to play well, then you will often play much closer to your A-game and leave in a better mood as well.

2. Game Selection

Game selection is incredibly important for all players. It is important to make sure you are playing in games that you can easily afford to lose in, that you enjoy playing in, and if your goal is to make money, that you also have a large edge in.

Playing in bigger and tougher games to “test yourself,” is a quick and easy way to go broke. Sticking to games that you can easily afford, as well as enjoy playing, will much more likely lead to you being successful in that session as well as overall.

3. Study!

Studying is one of the most important things any player can do, whether they are recreational or a professional. Thankfully there are many different ways to study: Coaching Sites, Books, Forums, GTO Study Tools, friends, Streamers, YouTube, etc.

Find a method that you enjoy, and do so as regularly as you can. The better your game is built fundamentally, the more likely it will be you will have a good session/be profitable. And it is much easier to leave a table happy while you are winning!

4. Don’t Open Limp

This rule is applicable for tournaments and cash games for 20+ big blinds effective. When you mix preflop between open limping and raising, you create an easy way for your opponents to be successful against you.

Most of the time when people limp they do so with weak hands, which telegraph information to your opponents. On top of that if they do protect those limps with some strong hands, then they will miss out on value from them. Theoretically speaking, open limping is not done at all when over 25 big blinds deep.

It is also much easier to play every hand as an open raise. You give yourself an opportunity to steal the blinds with your weaker opens, and to build pots with your stronger opens. You are also more likely to be seeing a flop heads-up.

5. Use The Same Sizes Preflop Based On Hand Strength

A similar rule to “Don’t Open Limp.” If you change your preflop sizes based on your hand strength only, you will telegraph to your opponents what type of hand you might have.

It is completely okay to change your open raise size preflop based on stack depth, your position, any previous limpers, stage of the tournament, types of players left to act, and your position. But don’t base it on your hand strength.

This is true whether we are open raising preflop or three-betting.

6. Analyze Preflop Ranges

So much of being successful in poker comes down to keeping in mind your opponent’s range. Easiest to do so starting with preflop. So, once I see a player act, I immediately visualize what their range might look like. Then as the hand progresses, I can easily adjust that range in my mind as they make decisions.

Then when we are on the river, I don’t need to waste a lot of time trying to remember action and trying to think about what they have, instead I already have a pretty good idea and can make my decision based around that. Or, if I need to, can recreate the action and make sure I have thought about it all correctly.

7. Think Ahead

This is true for all streets, but especially important for flop/turn decisions.
Let’s say you have a strong value hand and want to try to get stacks in by the river, what size you bet on the flop can easily dictate how much of your stack you can get in by the river.

As an example, if on the flop the pot size is five big blinds, and you bet 100% pot on the flop, turn, and river, the total amount of big blinds you’d be betting = 5+15+45 = 65 big blinds in total.

While if you bet 25% on flop, 50% on turn and 100% on river then you’d be betting 1.25+3.75+15 = 20 big blinds in total.

8. Be Patient

It is hard to get good hands in poker. If you want hands as strong as pocket fives or better, suited aces, K-10 suited+, A-10 offsuit+, and similar, this is only about 15% of hands.

So on average you’ll get these only about 1x per orbit. On top of this you’ll likely get a good blind defense situation maybe one of every four blinds as well.

Thus while playing live, it is extremely easy to spend 15 minutes to an hour where you either don’t get to play a single hand, or the few you do get to play you lose.

I try to stay patient myself by talking at the table, listening to music, or watching streams/etc on my phone. Sometimes the worst villain you must overcome is yourself!

9. Poker Is Very Hard!

My last advice for this simple article is that this game is incredibly difficult. It is unbelievably complex and has an absurd amount of variance built in as well. This makes it extremely tough to know how well you play, and how good of decisions you are making in the moment.

Because of these factors I believe it is important to make sure you are consistently studying and doing your best to have fun while playing. It can make this crazy game much easier to deal with and more enjoyable overall. ♠

Ryan Laplante is the co-founder of LearnProPoker and the RangeTrainerPro GTO study tool. The 14-year veteran of the game has more than $8 million in career tournament earnings. The Minnesota native has wins at the Poker Masters and WSOP Circuit to go along with 14 World Series of Poker final tables and a bracelet. You can find him on Instagram RealProtential, Twitter/X @ProtentialMN, or send an email to