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5 Tips for Winning Your Next Poker Tournament

Breaking out the cards and sitting around the poker table is a great way to spend time with your friends and family, all while exercising your strategic thinking skills and building your bluffing expertise! Having a poker tournament can also be a great way to get to know your coworkers better or draw attendees to your charity event.

Before the buy-in take a look at our top five tips for the next poker tournament so you can sharpen up your card skills and make it to the final table!

Poker Tournament Tip #1 - Study up on the Rules

If you’d like to get an upper hand on your competition, you should study the mechanics of the game in advance. This will help you feel more comfortable at the table and give you an opportunity to develop your approach to the game. It’s also important to already have a handle on the rules because the middle of a tournament isn’t the time to learn the basics. It will slow things down and aggravate some other players.

When we host a Texas Hold’em night, our Tournament Director thoroughly explains the rules of the game so you and your guests know exactly what to do before the cards are dealt. That way all the players are on the same page right from the start.

Poker Tournament Tip #2 - Practice Makes Perfect


We have all heard this phrase time and time again, but for good reason. The best way to get better at anything is to practice! Some say mastering a skill takes 10,000 hours of practice. But some studies have shown that it doesn’t necessarily take that many hours, however, practice is vital to improve a skill.

If you’re determined to win your next poker tournament, you can “train” for the event by playing as many games as you can, either at home with close friends or online. These matches will help you rehearse for the big day and learn new tactics. Just make sure that you know what poker game is going to be played, how the betting structure works and any other rules you’ll have to play by.

Poker Tournament Tip #3 - Dress for Success

Poker is as much about psychology as it is strategy. One thing that makes that fact clear is clothing. Donning an outfit that helps boost your confidence could improve your performance. You might even break out your lucky socks to give you an extra psychological advantage if you feel it will help you at tournament time.

While wearing certain clothes might seem like a silly strategy, poker expert Larry “Mr. Chips” Chiapelli actually discusses it in his book on the topic: “Believe it or not, how people dress truly does affect any game of poker…Does that beautiful woman, dressed in a gorgeous outfit, affect your poker game? By wearing that ‘special’ outfit, perhaps her intention is to distract her opponents…Sometimes people dress uncomfortably and their game will suffer because of it.”

Wearing attractive, comfortable clothes can help you feel at your best so you can both wow your guests and win your chips!

Wearing sunglasses is another hotly debated poker tournament topic. Some players wear them to conceal their eyes in the hopes others will catch fewer of their tells. It’s also considered an intimidation tactic at the table. If you decide to wear sunglasses just make sure they aren’t reflective or others might also see what’s in your hand.

Poker Tournament Tip #4 - Know the Three Phases of Poker Games

To be successful in a tournament, you’ve got to vary your tactics a bit. In his article “The Secret to Winning Poker Tournaments – It’s All About Timing,” Jonathan Gelling breaks the game down into three stages: early, mid and late. He advises taking a particular approach in each stage.

  • In the early game, he suggests either taking a very conservative or very aggressive style.

  • In the mid game, he recommends watching your opponents and taking the risks they’re too afraid to.

  • Finally, in the late game, he argues that players should gamble on medium-sized stacks to maintain and grow their chips without losing them all.

It’s a strategy that has proven successful for Gelling, so it’s worth trying.

Poker Tournament Tip #5 - Don’t Focus on Flushes

One of the most common mistakes new poker players make is directing all of their energy into generating flushes. Casino Gambling Expert Bill Burton breaks down the numbers on why this strategy doesn’t pay:

“You will be dealt two suited cards about 23 percent of the time. You will only make a flush about 5.77 [percent]. Simply put, for every time you play two suited cards, you will only make your flush about once in 16 tries. If you play low suited cards, you still have to worry about a bigger flush beating you.”

Switching up your strategy and focusing on hands that are more likely to pan out can allow you to win more with less popular hands.

Plan a Poker Tournament in Texas

Now that you’ve got these tips under your belt, it’s time to plan for your next poker tournament! Casino Knights, Inc. offers Texas Hold’em Tournament Packages in Austin and all over Texas. We provide everything you need to make your next event flush with fun including beautiful tables, sophisticated tournament software and experienced dealers.

Contact us today to learn more about our services or book us for your event.

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