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How to Prepare for a Live Tournament Series | 3 Tips From a Team Pro

In live poker tournaments, a deep run might mean multiple days of focused play in a row – sometimes there’s big money on the line as live tournaments generally have much bigger prize pools than online MTTs.

This means that the difference between the optimal play and a single mistake can have a massive impact on your bankroll.

For example: you’re approaching the final table of partypoker LIVE main event at the Caribbean. There’s a 50M USD prize pool, and you face a 3bet shove for ¾ of your chips.

Being tired from several days of playing due to insufficient preparation for the tournament series, you make a mistake of calling a hand that is a marginal fold, or fold a hand that is a marginal call. However, since the money in play is enormous, this mistake just cost you 100-200k USD.

Since you qualified through a satellite and normally play online with 200 USD avg buy-in, this single mistake might even account to the size of your current bankroll.

How could this mistake have been avoided? In other words, how do we ensure that we’re in the peak mental & physical state during a long live tournaments series?

We have gathered 3 crucial tips for you with comments from Joni Jouhkimainen, a Partypoker team pro & BeastsOfPoker ambassador who regularly plays 10k-50k USD highroller tourneys all over the world.

Build a healthy routine

Besides getting enough sleep the night before, the most successful people in the world dedicate at least one hour to take care of themselves in the morning.

There’s no reason for poker players to deviate from this excellent strategy. Whether you’re playing at your home casino or abroad, the mourning routine should optimally consist of following stuff to prepare you for peak performance & making the best possible decisions at the tables:

  • 20-30 minutes for medium/intense exercise (anything from swimming to running or yoga to gym will do fine)
  • 10-15 minutes for meditation and/or visualisation for tournament play (we recommend an app called Primed Mind created by Fedor Holz and his team)
  • 15-20 minutes for a shower & breakfast and/or coffee

Besides the mourning routine, we also recommend planning your daily meal times in advance & staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.

Joni’s comments:

Even though a lot of players use routines during the morning before big live MTT – I only have the one: A good night’s sleep. Live MTT’s demand you to have a razor-sharp focus for days at the time,and for me to obtain it : the main ingredient is sleep. I might also do a small pre game prepping ( go over some interesting/ tough tournament spots) but if I have to choose between an extra 30- minutes of sleep and half an hour at the lab, on game days, I choose sleep every time.

Create an international poker study group

There is tremendous power in belonging to an enthusiastic group of like-minded people with similar types of goals. During live tournament series, having a social circle of fellow successful poker pros will not only help you improve your game when you discuss hands with them during breaks, but also prevent you from making punts at the tourneys since you have a group of friends you’re accountable to.

Our recommendation is to create a group chat where you can share hands from the tourneys and other areas of the game during the live tournament series. Getting feedback from your peers will help you get better faster and motivate you better than playing on your own.

Joni’s comments:

I can’t even imagine where I would be without the people who I have met through poker. Some of them have been with me decades and others have just hopped in. One thing is sure though: I wouldn’t be where I am now without them. In my opinion discussing poker with your friends is the best way to learn – there’s a lot of different approaches and solutions to poker – no one said that you should be alone in searching for them.

Have fun & enjoy the experience

Well-prepared poker players play their best when they’re happy. Once you’ve prepared for the tournament, release all worries and fears you might have – it’s time to take in the experience, totally focused on the present moment.

When you feel good about the upcoming event, you have a much higher chance to play your A-game than if you’re stressed out. Always playing with the intention of having fun while making the most out of a live tournament can definitely help your bottom line – after all, the excitement and different aspects offered by the game of poker were probably the reason you started to play it in the first place.

Joni’s comments: 

Even though poker is an extremely competitive game – remember to have fun! Say hi to your fellow players and have a chat between the hands. It’s a great way to expand your poker circle, and if you’re feeling a bit nervous it’s a fantastic way to make yourself feel more comfortable.

If you ever see me playing feel free to say hi! When I’m not playing live I can be found playing FastForward PLO at partypoker.

Now it’s your time to prepare. Go crush it, have fun & enjoy the ride!

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