Why I Am a Tournament Poker Player
One of my poker-playing friends often asks me how on earth I can dedicate my free time to playing multi-table tournaments (MTTs) online. He often refers to them as “donkaments” and says that they frequently descend into a “shove-fest” where players have to get lucky in order to win.
While he may be correct in certain respects — some tournaments do require a lot of luck to win and they are sometimes full of “donks” — for me tournament poker ticks all of the boxes I require from a poker format and I can’t ever see myself playing anything else.
When I first started to play poker online, you would only ever find me at the cash game tables. All my friends played cash games and the books and strategy articles I read were all dedicated to the art of cash games. But — and it’s a big “but” — I never enjoyed them. Why? Because they don’t fit in with my whole psyche, whereas tournament poker does.
Cash game players often say that cash games are one long, continuous session. When you log off, your “session” obviously ends, but resumes again when you return to the felt. This is a problem for me and something I have always struggled to get my head around. Maybe it’s the writer in me, or maybe I prefer more structure in my life, but I like to have a beginning, a middle, and an end on which to focus. Tournament poker gives me that because there are definite periods of an MTT to which I can assign those labels. They aren’t in black and white, yet I can still see the tournament progressing to a different stage whenever I play one.
Secondly, I don’t like how in cash games you never know how much money you are going to win or lose and being a bankroll nit this is a problem for me. With MTTs, I can plan to play 25 of them on a given night and I know exactly what the risk to my bankroll is and what I stand to win if the stars align and the “poker gods” allow me to run well.
These two points are important to me, but they may not be to you. I imagine you have little quirks and preferences that I can’t understand either. Beyond those two points, I can think of five other reasons why I prefer playing MTTs over any other poker format.
1. The ever-changing dynamics of MTTs
In cash games you often sit down at a table 100 big blinds deep with several other people who are 100 big blinds deep, which to me is boring. The blinds are minimal, too. Meanwhile in an MTT everyone’s stack fluctuates wildly, the blinds are ever-increasing (which puts pressure on you and your opponents), and the prize structure can create some unique situations when it comes to strategy.
2. The excitement of a deep MTT run or win
Unless you have won an online MTT, you cannot begin to imagine how amazing it feels to know you have outlasted, outsmarted, and outplayed your opponents on your way to clinching victory. Seeing the value of the prizes come into view and then increase as the number of entrants falls really gets the blood pumping!
3. Being able to turn a small investment into a large prize
One of the most attractive features of MTTs is they allow a poker player to make a small investment and turn it into a much more meaningful amount in a single event. While cash players can do the same to some degree, winning 40-60 buy-ins in a single session is practically unheard of. Yet there have a been a few occasions when I’ve managed to final table large-field tournaments like the PokerStars $3.30 rebuy and turn just a few bucks into four-figure scores that were over 100 times my initial investment.
4. My skills and style better suit tournaments
Maybe it is because I have played so many turbo-structured tournaments that I seem to be more comfortable with a 15-30 big blind stack at my disposal, or maybe it is because I am bad at deep-stacked poker, but MTTs make me feel at ease and I rarely find myself in spots where I do not know what to do. Likewise, how I approach the game often relies on being able to make players fold, which I find easier to do in a tournament scenario over a cash game equivalent.
5. I actually enjoy MTTs
Easily the biggest factor in my decision to play online MTTs is the fact that when everything is taken into consideration, I really enjoy them. I lead quite a busy life and my spare time is not as plentiful as some, so when I do get some time to myself to play poker it is important that it is an enjoyable experience. I mean, when all is said and done, poker is a game and if you don’t enjoy the game why bother playing it at all?
What poker format do you prefer and why? Let us know in the comments box below.