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Travel Day & Some Basic Strategy

by Roy Winston |  Published: Jan 21, '08


On the way to Borgata I laid over one night in Hong Kong. It was a longer way to go, but I wanted to at least of a quick glimpse of Hong Kong and try some authentic Chinese food. What a fascinating city.

In a few hours it's onto Borgata where I am excited to return to. After the September event I had to leave at 5 am to catch a flight back to LA. I am planning on playing one preliminary event and the main event. I have to be in New York City on Saturday the 26th for my parent's 50th Anniversary party. One of the things that made my win at Borgata so special was that my parents were there to watch. I am looking forward to seeing my family, and I think at least one of my brothers will be coming to spend time with me at Borgata.

I am frequently asked to share my basic tournament strategy, and how I approach the different phases of an event. I will go over how I approach the beginning stage of an event, and a routine check list I go through. I never have an exact strategy when I sit down to start playing, I prefer to evaluate the table carefully and adapt my approach to the climate at the table. Sometimes you are at a table of weak passive players and taking the lead makes sense, or maybe you have one or more aggressive players that are seeing as many flops as possible and playing their position aggressively. In today's deep stack tournaments many good players like to play a lot of pots early when the ratio of stack size to blinds is favorable. Usually I play relatively tight in the early stages of the deep stack events. When I first sit down I carefully examine the players at my table. I look at them when they are playing hands that I'm not involved in and see what they look like when they are strong, and when they are not. If I am lucky enough to see some showdowns or when I have someone who shows a lot of hands I try and remember any clues I pick up and use when I am in a hand against them. The specifics of what I look for include watching a players breathing, usually with a strong hand they will be tachypneic (rapid breathing), if I am lucky enough to see their pulse somewhere and can confirm it while they are playing someone else, that will frequently give me a very strong read. While playing in a no limit cash game at last year's WSOP there was a player that would tense his cheek muscles every time he had a strong hand. W hen he went to the bathroom the whole table started talking about it and couldn't wait for him to come back. Do they "pre-muck" or get their bets ready before it's their turn to act, great information to have if they act after you and you're thinking about a move in late position. Also, if you have a monster and you see someone getting ready to raise after you, I might limp and can then either smooth call or re-raise. I also like to watch what a player's eyes and hands do when the flop comes. Some players will immediately move their hands to their chip stack, or look briefly at the common cards. These are usually a sign of strength. Keep in mind EVERYTHING I am telling you here must be confirmed for each player. Some will be opposites, and this is just a piece of the puzzle. Do they look relaxed or tense? How did they look when they threw a hand away in response to a raise? Being able to confirm physical tells by correlating it with their cards is ideal.

In summary, if you can catalogue a players breathing, heart rate, eyes, hands, and overall demeanor when weak and strong when they are playing a hand against someone else, you will have an advantage when you are up against them.

Roy Winston finished 16th in 2007 Card Player, Player of the Year race. He won the WPT Borgata Poker Open and finished the year with well over $2 million in tournament poker winnings. Roy plays online exclusively at Full Tilt. For more information on Roy Winston, you can visit his website: or send an email to: with your questions or comments. The contents presented herein on this blog are purely the opinions of Roy Winston, and are not intended to reflect or promote the opinions of any other person, group, or entity. If you like what I write than thanks for reading, and if not well, thanks anyway.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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