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Tournament Play

by Roy Winston |  Published: May 09, '08


As promised, I would like to spend some time on playing large field tournament poker such as we will see in the upcoming WSOP. A lot of players will be making the pilgrimage to Las Vegas to play in one or more WSOP events. Let's begin with how to pick an event to play in. First are bankroll considerations. How much money am I comfortable throwing at the WSOP. Should I play satellites, or just buy in, which events offer the best bang for the buck, will the number of players, starting chips, blinds, and type of event have an influence on my chance of success.

In general the larger the buy in the slower the blind progression, and obviously the larger your starting chip stack. The fields tend to get tougher and smaller as the buy ins increase, that is except for the main event, which I will discuss later. For example the very first event is the world championship pot limit holdem which is a $10,000 buy in. Last year as a $5,000 buy in; there were just under 400 players. This year as the first event, where not everyone is in town yet, and the doubling of the entry fee should decrease the field size. At first glance it looks like a good opportunity for a bracelet; however the field will most likely be extremely tough, without much dead money. I think the larger field, low buy in, no limit events represent a great value because players with marginal skill sets will take a shot at such an event because of the lower buy in. The negatives are the small starting stacks and more aggressive blind schedules which force you to gamble more. Ideally an event would have lots of starting chips and gentle slow blinds, but that format does not exist, except maybe at last week's Borgata 2K event, but I've digressed.

So, just like there is no perfect airplane, car, boat, house, or as I have found out the hard way, woman (although I have to say I still believe there may be); we must look for a best fit. Take into account your bankroll, schedule, skill set, and how much you will enjoy playing, because if love of the game isn't ultimately a big reason why you are playing, then that's kind of sad, and come up with your personal WSOP plan. It is also a good idea to write it all down and budget your time and money to make sure it makes sense. Also pace yourself, don't stay up all night and play satellites and cash games and expect to be sharp the next day. Most events last year began at noon and ran until around 3am, so by the time you get back to your room its closer to 4am and if you are at all like me you lay in bed wired for a while before falling asleep. They next thing you know the suns up, and you're on your way back to the RIO. The basics of eating and sleeping should be well thought out.

Another factor which I find helps me a lot is to have a group of players I discuss hands and situations with. The process of doing this helps to increase my knowledge base and hone my skills. Michael Binger, Noah Schwartz, Joe McGowan, Zach Hyman, and Layne Flack and I often go over different aspects of our play together and I find it extremely helpful. Now what you shouldn't do is tell bad beat stories. I don't tell them and definitely don't want to hear them. That's one thing you will hear from every direction at the WSOP. Players love to tell how some donkey cracked their aces. What they leave out is how they slow played them in a 7 way pot and moved in on the turn with everything possible on the board. Anyway, having players you respect who can discuss your play honestly with, is extremely valuable. I also find when players tell me about hands they played I can usually learn something from that as well.

For more information on Roy Winston, you can visit his website: or send him an email:

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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