We get some version of this question all the time:
“What do I need to do to get ready to play in the WSOP main event?”
I was watching the U.S. Open this weekend and was impressed by the way the golfers prepare to play. By any metric, these golfers are all on the top of their games when they show up for their tee times Thursday. They’ve been at the venue for several days, and they’ve played at least a few practice rounds on that golf course, learning the greens, the fairways, the rough, and the feel of the sand in the bunkers. They’ve studied the distances, thought about which clubs to use on each tee box, considered the potential hole locations for each day and the best place to land their tee shot to set up their approach for each of those hole locations.
Then, before their tee-time, they show up around two hours early. They hit somewhere between 80 and 200 shots, practicing putting, short approaches, mid-range approach shots, and drives.
One of the things that really struck me is that on Sunday, the fourth day of the tournament, when their games should be as sharp as they ever could be, they still go through the routine, showing up hours before they’re to tee off, and hitting all those warm-up shots.
So how does this translate to poker tournaments?
Most players do almost nothing to prepare. They show up and play, hoping things will just go well.
We’ve sad it before and I’ll say it again: Hope is not a plan.
There are a lot of ways you can prepare to play a poker tournament, and one of the most important is waking up your poker mind.
An active poker mind means that you’ve recently spent a lot of time thinking about poker and situations. Usually that comes from playing a lot of poker in the recent past. But it can come from other sources too. Without an active poker mind, you will come across close decision points that you have to puzzle through at the table. This leads to uncertainty and tentative decision making. Your more astute opponents will pick up on this and punish you for it.
Obviously, good poker education is one of the best ways to activate your poker mind. Our No-Limit Hold’em Tournament Course is a great way to prepare.
But it’s not the only option. You can also get prepared by talking to other players whose game you respect, by reading blog posts or articles from players about hand situations, or just thinking about past hands you’ve played, situations you’ve encountered and how you could have played them better.
You can also check out our Free Tournament Kit which is packed with articles about how to improve your game.
There’s a good lesson to be learned from the professional golfers who spend as much or more time preparing as they do playing. When you’re about to play at the highest level, in the most important poker tournament of your life, can you spend too much time preparing for that?