I have had the time recently to play a few live, poker tournaments. While I generally avoid tournaments, these last tournaments have been above my bankroll limit. I figure I can overcome my usual poker playing weaknesses and concentrate on them in live games.

Here is some analysis I provided earlier this week in an effort to help you improve your game. I encourage you to use this as a base and to adjust it as you play more often. Here is some fresh perspective on choking points and playing tight:

  1. Early Stages – I find that most players play way too loose early on. Especially in lieu of the blinds premium getting into the game way too cheap. They end up with a big stack and no idea of what to do with it. They end up getting all in and hoping for the best. They end up making poor decisions and allowing their opponents to make better ones. If you areraising the pot in the early stages, you are risking something. Its as simple as that. If you don’t have a good hand, if you aren’t getting any value out of your cards and your opponents aren’t making any marginalizes, fold.

At this stage there is no reason to be in a hand. You should be playing tight and letting the other players fall victim to their own fear and aggressiveness. Watch the play and life will be easier.

  1. Pre – flop play – Here is some classic video poker advice that I often quote:

Your first hold’em decision should be based upon your cards. If you have A-A, you should always raise to eliminate all the drawers and raisers. If you have K-K, same thing.

Your second hold’em decision is based upon the actions of those players to your left and those players to your right. If you have a loose player to your left, you should reduce the size of the pot and try to get them to call the big raise. If you have a tight player to your left, you should make a larger sized bet to get him to fold, thus the blinds.

In other words, you should be playing tight from the blinds and not flipping over your hand until you know who you are against.

  1. Post – flop play – Once you have eliminated those players that are drawing, you are left with maybe a few small stacked players, a few big stack players, and various other players with various abilities.

In a situation like this, with myriad players, you can’t really be sure if you even have the best hand. When you are playing against a few very tight players, you can’t be certain you even have the best hand. So, use this knowledge to your advantage. If there are a few players left to act after you, you should try to steal the blinds. If there are a lot of players waiting in front of you, you can pick a better spot. However, if all PC’s are sitting on the button, you should be shoving flops and forcing them to make a decision.

The reality is that you will not win every hand or in this case session. You simply need to win more than you lose in order to be one of the players at the end of the tournament that reach the final table. You cannot be predictable in big games like these. Therefore it is important to do not make a big mistake, which will one of your opponents to you. Once you have done your homework(which you should have done anyway), you are ready to go out and play some hands.

For the rest of us, we will recap what we have learned from the above DewaGG Tips:

Learning to survive in early stages is the most important aspect of the game, specially when you play a limit game.

When you reach the middle stages, you still need to play tight, but you can now shift gears and play some weak hands. In doing so, you can come out ahead in the game.

In the end, it all comes down to the winning hands.

You must know which winning hands to play. In my opinion, there are really three types of winning hands. First, there are the premium hands. Weak hands that can win if the right cards come out. Second, there are the drawing hands, which need the right cards, but can win if a certain type of flop comes out. And lastly, there are the hands that no one can win with no matter what cards come out. These last hands are the most dangerous ones.

To determine what hands to play, you must first decide if you want to play tight or loose. Playing tight in an early stage is the best way to survive into the later stages. Playing loose takes a lot of risk, but could be worth it.