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Getting to the World Series of Poker: Playing in a Qualifier
by Al McMordie - 04/24/2012
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While satellites for seats in World Series of Poker qualifiers are fairly inexpensive and can actually be won with some basic strategy, getting to the final table and getting a seat in the big game itself can be much more stressful and require a more aggressive strategy than many new players are willing to employ. We're going to go over some changes you'll see as you move into the higher-stakes tournaments and how to make sure that you keep your cool, even when things get bigger.
In satellites, the progression seems to be loose aggressive into tight aggressive play. Players in the qualifier start tight and get looser as the event progresses. This means that out-and-out blind stealing takes place in the first third of the tournament and nobody really says boo about it. After all, they're trying to keep their own chips for later when the blinds rise to the point where taking a risk can pay off much more.
In the early stages of qualifiers, inducing bluffs can actually be profitable. In lower stakes games the guy is reading his cards and inducing a bluff is just a waste of a chance to get more money. In higher stakes events and qualifiers, though, it seems if you raise your aces pre-flop from the small blinds, someone puts you on high pockets instantly and the only call you get is for implied odds. Then when you post a semi bluff trying to catch your set, checking to him on the turn, this sort of play actually seems to pay off! He might play back real hard thinking you have kings.
Interestingly, follow-up bets, especially at the lower levels are also very much respected. Guys will call with their pockets cards, take their 10% chance that they're going to bust you out of the hand and then let it go if you beat them. There's a lot less maniac play and dead money floating around, too. Most players are seeing less than 20% of flops, which means that reads are ten times as important.
You can play in a satellite tournament depending on math. Once you hit the qualifier and are vying for a seat, players become a lot smarter. Look out for limpers and if you've got the right cards, don't be afraid of a raise to push them out of the hand entirely. You're going to have to play very good poker to earn that chair in Las Vegas, so make sure you get a lot of practice before the qualifier and keep what is written here in mind!
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