Poker Lesson: The Best Poker Tournament Preparation Guide

Poker Lesson: The Best Poker Tournament Preparation Guide

The most important thing you can do to prepare for a live tournament is to know your stuff. The more comfortable and confident you are at the table, the better your decision making becomes because you’re in the right headspace. Cultivating the right headspace starts with having a rock-solid foundation. If you can adopt the right mindset, you’ll feel less pressure, perform better and achieve your desired outcomes.

Live Tournament Poker Preparation Guide

Do Your Homework Beforehand

Live tournaments are NOT the time to be doing last-minute studying or implementing new moves. Stick with what got you to this point, as it’s probably enough to get you further than you give yourself credit for. One of the biggest edges you can have is a clear mind that’s focused on the main prize. To achieve this, go to bed early instead of partying or cramming. Do whatever it takes to get a good night’s sleep so you can get up early and have a nutritious breakfast. The idea is you want to give your brain a chance to wake up, so you’re not entering the tournament fatigued.

Tournament Days Aren’t Short

Live tournaments are a serious grind. You’re looking at 8-16 hour days. With such a long time spent at the felt, you’ll need to plan your snacks, drinks and meals ahead of time. But to get you through the long hauls, listening to music during insignificant hands is a popular option; remember this will decrease your focus by 60%. So when you’re playing pivotal hands, turn off the tunes. One key to success in live events is telling yourself that you have what it takes to win. In order to win, you have to be comfortable in your environment, so familiarize yourself with the tournament room before you play.

You Have To Be Prepared To Experience Ups And Downs

Mental preparation is a key factor when approaching live tournaments. You’re going to experience swings; it’s a natural part of poker, just don’t let it affect your game. The simple law of numbers states that some players will acquire massive stacks early on, but that doesn’t mean it’s imperative you build your stack early. What’s important is you play your cards as best as you can and don’t get emotional.

Plan Your Meals Before The Day + Stay Hydrated

To ensure you have a steady supply of energy throughout the day, you want to have healthy snacks (granola bars, nuts, beef jerky) and water at the ready. You also want to make your dinner reservations or plans in advance or get someone not in the tournament to make them. You don’t want to waste any energy, wondering what your next snack or meal will be.

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Get Pumped Up!

You don’t just want to fuel your body; you want to fuel your mind too. Believing in yourself is something you should be doing outside of tournaments also. You need to be positive, to envision victory and believe you have what it takes to win. Listen to inspirational videos, use positive affirmations, make a list of things you’re thankful for in life, or whatever helps you get into a positive mindset and excited for the tournament. Your goal is to make the best decisions possible. If you want to win, you have to play like a winner; and winners trust in their abilities.

Have Fun

Once you’re at the table, shake off the fear or worry and just let go and have fun playing in the tournament. Tournaments are full of all kinds of characters, so sit back, play your favorite game and enjoy the experience. If you’re enjoying yourself, you’re more likely going to be playing great too. So do your best to keep your emotions in check, so they don’t take over. Even if things don’t go your way, remember it’s just a game, and there will always be another tournament. Focus on what matters, having fun and playing your best, win or lose; you’ll come out with a story that’ll last forever.


When it comes to live poker tournaments, you not only want to be confident in your game, you want to be focused on the bigger picture – having the right mindset. You’re there to have fun and make the best decisions to increase your chances of winning. So for your sake, don’t just dive into the tournament, make the necessary preparations to get yourself ready for the big day, whether it’s packing healthy snacks or getting enough rest so you can play at your best.

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