How to Win a Major Poker Tournament Series

Poker tournament series are potentially very lucrative, but there are steps to take to improve your chances of success.

It seems every online poker site in the world is running a poker tournament series. PokerStars, GGPoker, 888poker, partypoker, and even Americas Cardroom has a tournament series running or scheduled.

Most modern online series span at least two weeks and have 50 or more tournaments. They’re a poker player’s paradise, but they’re also draining on both your mentality and bankroll. Playing your best during a series isn’t as simple as turning up and buying in. They require detailed planning if you want to be successful, and we all want to be successful.

Spend Some Time to Plan Your Series

I highly recommend spending some time to plan the events you’re going to play before the series starts. Online poker sites publish their schedules weeks in advance; you can also find the tournaments in the site’s lobby.

Start by highlighting events you can’t afford to miss. These may be tournaments with a specific format or structure or the ones with the biggest guarantees. You know what you like.

Then add more tournaments based on the time you have available. Be realistic when you do this because real life often gets in the way of poker. You want to play every event on the series, not many people manage to do this.

Ensure You Have An Adequate Bankroll For The Series

Regular readers of these pages know I’m a stickler for bankroll management. I’m proud of the fact I have never gone broke despite enduring some horrific downswings.

Bankroll management is even more important during a tournament series. Why? Because you have larger buy-in MTTs in quick succession. Many of these tournaments are re-entry or rebuys, and there are more satellites you can shake a stick at.

Always plan for the worse, which seems pessimistic but will protect you. How much will it cost you if you failed to cash in every event you play? Will not cashing affect the tournaments you play when the series ends?

Budget for making two rebuys and an add-on if you’re playing a rebuy event. Most players immediately rebuy in these tournaments. You should also purchase the add-on if you make it that for. Therefore, in a $5.50 rebuy, budget to spend $22.

Set Up Your Grind Station Before The Series Starts

You can play online poker from anywhere, which is one of the reasons for its popularity. You’ll want to create a grind station if you want to improve your chances of success.

We’ve all been guilty of firing up Bovada on our laptops, sitting on the couch and grinding while Netflix plays in the background. This is relaxing, but not conducive to winning poker.

Try finding a spot in your home away from distractions is what you’re aiming for. Not everyone can do that, but you can limit the number of distractions. Turn off social media, turn off the TV, and concentrate on playing your A-game.

Make Sure You’re Well Rested and Have Time Away From The Tables

Everyone wants to play every tournament during a series but I advise against it. You need time away from the grind otherwise you risk burning yourself out. Playing when tired is as bad as playing while under the influence of alcohol. It’s possible you’ll play on autopilot, missing value spots, making loose calls, and your bankroll suffers as a result.

Take some time away from the tables to recharge your batteries. Use the downtime to go through your hand histories and to study. Go for a walk or catch a movie. Take the dog for a walk, or hang out with friends. Just do something other than grinding the tournaments on the series for a day or two.

Set Some Goals You Have Control Of

Setting goals is important as it gives you something to focus on, but you have to set the correct goals. Winning a specific sum of money is a common goal, but you should avoid doing so. This seems silly considering money is how we measure success but listen up.

You actually have very little control over how much money you make during a series. You’re in control of how you play poker, of course, yet there’s so much luck involved in the short term that you’re at the mercy of the Poker Gods.

Goals relating to money often lead to making sub-optimal plays and decisions. You may miss a value-packed tournament to lock in a profit. Others registers for tournaments outside their bankroll to try win enough to show a profit for the series. The list of negatives is as long as my arm.

Better goals to make revolve around factors within your control. These include playing to the best of your ability, not playing when tired or stressed, committing a certain time to study, and making sure take notes on players at your table.

Of course, have a monetary goal if you wish, just don’t make it your sole focus.

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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