Tip: Be patient early
Situation: I received an e-mail last week discussing a hand that perfectly represents this tip. Blinds are 10/20, the first 30 minutes of a large multitable tournament. In the big blind this player was dealt Qd-Js. There are two callers (one under the gun, one in late position), and with the small blind folding, he would be first to act.
The flop comes Qh-Qc-3c and obviously the big blind is excited. He bets out 40 chips into the pot of 70. Good bet, maybe a little small due to the possible flush draw out there, but he wanted to see where he was in the hand.
The under the gun player reraises immediately and pushes all-in for 1,980 chips. Yes, that's overbetting the pot.
The big blind thinks about the hands that this player could have: A-A, K-K, A-Q, K-Q, or 3-3. Which one of these would he limp from under the gun with? After deliberating and thinking that maybe the player has an overpair (aces or kings), he calls. Only to see that his opponent has A-Q and has just busted him out of the tournament.
Should he have called?
Explanation: Probably not. I know I'm saying this after we know what happened (hindsight is 20-20), but it's extremely early in the tournament, there are plenty of better spots that you can choose. Unless you know your hand is good, you need to get out of that hand and wait for a better spot. It's a tough hand to get away from, but you have to be patient.
Multitable poker tournaments aren't a race. The first person to 25,000 chips doesn't win, it's whoever has the chips at the end of the last day. Getting involved in a huge pot early on is an extremely risky proposition unless you have the nuts.
This player invested 60 chips into this pot. When the rest of his tournament life was put at risk, it was still only 60 chips that he had invested.
As this player said, "The best move would be to realize that I only had 60 chips committed. [I needed] to turn off the dollar signs going off in my head and the idea of doubling up early, and realize that it's too early to push it all in without the nuts."
Patience is one of the necessary characteristics of a winning poker player. Know when to pick your spots. In a big-stack tournament, you have plenty of chips to play with. Make sure you are around long enough to use them.
Andrew Feldman is the ESPN Poker Club's columnist, editor, producer and tournament director. Andrew is also the co-host of ESPNRadio.com's newest podcast, the Poker Edge. To contact Andrew, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.