Tournament play
by E. Cutler

Poker is like a living entity. It doesn't stay the same over a longer period of time, it evolves, it changes, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
As much as we hate to admit it, poker tournaments ( whether they're online, or offline ) are not what they were just two or three years ago. They've become a lot tougher to beat. That is quite natural too, if you consider the enormous explosion in popularity it's seen in recent years. Popularity means more players, more good and reasonable players, and thus more stiff competition. The core of the problem is not the increased competition though.

Many good players have been complaining that the game has changed radically. The crowds of newbies are no longer easy to beat, and gone are the days when the world's best player could put in consistent back to back performances.
The luck aspect of the game has been given a far greater importance, by virtue of the fact that preflop play has become very aggressive.
Because of this problem, skill will take a back-seat to luck in most tourneys where there are an excessive amount of participants.
Any player who wins a tourney against over 1000 opponents will not only be a good player but will have to be extremely lucky as well.
Most good players hate to commit all their chips and join the ' all in' craze, and they are right. That's not a sound poker strategy. The problem is, though, that the 'new wave' 'internet style' players couldn't care less about sound poker strategy.

In very large tournaments or internet-based freeroll tournaments ( where the number of players often tops 2000 ) the world's best player most likely won't be able to make the top 10, even if he tries 50 times in a row. Even if he only goes down the street on nothing but 3-1 odds, think about it: if you put all your stack on the line with 3-1 odds all the time, sooner or later you're bound to be knocked out. You played correctly, you made the right decisions yet some goofball suddenly gets lucky and knocks you out of the tourney in a single sweep, barely aware of what he's actually doing.

I hate to break it to you, but that's just the nature of poker. You win some and you lose some. Only if you constantly put everything you have on the line, that single loss is all it takes to end the game for you.
Succumbing to extremely poor play and bad luck is something few players can take without tilting.
Large tournaments ( and especially freerolls ) are often riddled with lunatics. Maniacs who play lottery instead of poker. No it's not right, but that's just the way it is nowadays. There are basically two types of maniacs. The first type is out to ruin someone's day. That's all he's looking for. The second type is the reasoning lunatic. He'll act crazy in the early stages of play just to see if he gets lucky and ends up with a large stack. If he does, he cools down and takes the game from there, playing reasonably and acting on positive EV hands only.

The first type of maniac you can beat simply by doing nothing. He's out to beat himself anyway so why not let him do his business and leave. The second type is more dangerous and if he does get lucky early on, he'll give you a rough time later in the tourney.
The bottom line is, game selection will have a greater than ever importance in this new age of online poker. If you manage to make it to the break in a freeroll repeatedly, that probably means you're ready to buy in to some paid tourney and take your chances there. That's where the money is. The competition will be greatly reduced and the prize-pool will also be bigger. Invest your time in a more profitable business and leave the freerolls for others.

Go for games where the small edges ( like sustained positive EV play, rakeback and other such factors ) still work and you won't be restricted from using whatever skills you've got.

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