Top 10 Tournament Mistakes

Top 10 Tournament Mistakes

In this article, we will discuss the top 10 mistakes that usually happen to beginners playing online tournaments such as Sit and Go’s (SNG, STT), Double or Nothing (DON) or Multi Table Tournaments (MTT).

Tournament Mistake 1: Playing Too Many Hands

This is a classic mistake of poker players, both in cash games and in SNGs and in other forms of online tournaments. In the first blind levels, you should play very tight and fold most of your hole cards. By playing tight, we mean that you should play the top 20% of all starting hands at most. A lower percentage, 15% or even only 10%, is OK as well and much better than playing too many hands.

It doesn’t matter if you have already seen a poker pro in TV raising with 86 suited in middle position. He might play such a hand profitably, which is one of the reasons he is a pro. But you will definitively lose money in the long term if you play such speculative hands while lacking the experience of a poker pro.

During the first blind levels, you should play only the following starting hands in a poker tournament:

  • Early position: Only play (and raise) high pairs (AA, KK, QQ, JJ) and AK. If you want to loose up, you can add TT and AQ to your starting hands
  • Middle and late position: In addition to the cards mentioned above, you can limp middle and low pairs and suited connectors (hoping to hit a monster on the flop) in unraised pots. Continue playing the hand on the flop only if you hit it strong (set or strong draw). Be aware of aces with low kickers or hands such as king-jack. Beginners usually are unable to lay down such a hand when they hit the flop with one of their hole cards. And chances are high that even if you hit your hand, you will run into an opponent with a hand that dominates yours (ace with better kicker).

Tournament Misktake 2: Tilt

„Tilt“ or „tilting“ is commonly described as a strong deviation from your best possible game, your “A-game”. Tilt usually happens during a session. Many players tilt when they lose several times in a row with a hand that is a huge favorite (such as holding AA vs. QQ). A person on tilt usually plays too many hands and plays too aggressivly. They want “to pay it back” to the person they lost a large pot to. This is very dangerous as persons on tilt usually end up losing even more chips.

It’s important that you a) realize that you are tilting and b) either reverse quickly to your A-game or quit playing poker for a while. Taking a break is much better than loosing even more money.

Tournament Mistake 3: Playing Too Many Tables

It seems to be very simple: If you earn one dollar playing one SNG/STT (which takes one hour to complete), you will earn three dollars per hour if you play three Sit and Go’s simultaneously. But you will agree that you will not earn 30 dollars per hour if you multitable 30 SNG’s. Every table you add decreases the attention you can put on each of the SNG’s you play. If you play many tables at once, you will make more mistakes and get timed out more often. It’s a big mistake if you fold a high pocket pair by accident…

For this reason, we advise that you slowly increase the number of tables you play simultaneously until you reach a number of tables where you still feel comfortable and where you still are convinced that you always make the correct decision. It’s up to you to decide whether this number is two SNG’s, six SNG’s or twelve SNG’s.

Tournament Mistake 4: Not Paying Full Attention to the Games

When you play Sit and Go’s or other tournaments, you have to concentrate fully on playing poker. It’s not possible to play your A-game and to perform other tasks as well. You play online poker to earn money. Your opponents at the tables play online poker to earn money. And you earn money from opponents that play worse than you. And the more you concentrate on the tables, the better you play poker. If you are distracted from things like watching TV, chatting and messaging, making phone calls or surfing on the Internet, you lose money through these distractions.

Tournament Mistake 5: Not Paying Attention to Bankroll Management

Many beginners are not realizing how high the variance in poker tournaments such as Sit and Go’s, Double or Nothing or Multi Table Tournaments is. Even a good poker player with a ROI of 10% can run into a break-even phase of 300 SNG’s or can drop 30 or more buy-ins.

It is therefore very important that you stick to the bankroll management properly. Depending on how aggressive your bankroll management strategy is, you have to play limits where you have 50, 100 or even 200 buy-ins as your bankroll. If you have a bankroll of 1,000$ and want to stick to a 100 buy-in bankroll management, you can only play tournaments with a buy-in of 10$ or less. If your bankroll drops to 500$, you will have to move down to tournaments with a buy-in of 5$. With this rule, you make sure that you always have at least 100 buy-ins to play and you minimize your risk of ruin.

Tournament Mistake 6: Using aTwo-Colored Card Deck

A four-colored card deck (with green for clubs and blue for diamonds) might look strange to you at first. Live games are only played with two-colored card decks. But using a four-colored card deck greatly reduces the risk of not noting an own flush or realizing the potential risk of an opponent holding a flush. A four-colored deck also reduced the attention you have to pay to each table you play, which is a great benefit if are multitabling.

All online poker sites offer to use four-colored decks (usually under „options“). Take advantage of this option to simplify your game and switch to a four-colored deck now. This will also prevent that you have a disadvantage against players who already use the four-colored deck option.

Tournament Mistake 7: Playing Too Passively

A player plays passively if he takes the initiative only seldomly. A passive poker player often calls bets, but makes few bets and raises himself.

When you play a hand in poker, you always have two opportunities to win: either you have the best hand, or you bet/raise and all your opponents fold. If you play passively, you forfeit that second opportunity to win a hand.

Tournament Mistake 8: Not Taking Care of Position at the Table

Your position at the table is extremely important and one of the main drivers of the ROI of SNG players. A hand such as ace-nine suited is a clear fold if you are seated “under the gun” (UTG). But if you sit with the same hand on the button and all players acting before you folded, then you can raise with this hand.

Statistical evidence proves that the closer you sit to the button, the higher your winrate is. In tournaments such as Sit and Go’s this effect is even stronger. Once the blinds are high, you will have to move all-in pre-flop often. And chances to win the blinds without a showdown are much higher if you have only the small and big blind to your left.

Tournament Mistake 9: Believing in „Luck“

It’s a mistake to be superstitious in all kind of games that have a certain element of luck. In poker in particular, believing in good luck is fatal, as this is a game where players making the highest amount of correct decisions (and the lowest amount of mistakes) are the long-term winners. You have to justify all of your decisions rationally. Only fishes will say things like “I had a good feeling” or “I called because it has been a long time since I had my last flush”.

Tournament Mistake 10: Not Taking Advantage of Bonus Offers

All online poker rooms offer great sign-up bonuses for new players. Bonuses are some kind of free money: You earn them by playing the required amount of hands. It is therefore a big mistake to forfeit these free money offerings. Have a look at our table with exclusive poker bonus offerings and play at a poker room which offers you a great bonus.