Seriously on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being “calm as a Hindu cow” and 10 “Ohh my god my house is on fire” how nervous would you be about attending your first live poker event? Does that dial go to 11 yo might ask?

That’s what our stateside reporter Travis T Williams (who’s no stranger to the world of live poker) was thinking when he found out that one lucky winner was being sent to the Borgata Open to play in the $3,500 No Limit Hold ‘Em Main Event with a $3,000,000 Guaranteed Prizepool.

As Travis mentions ” Well yeah I was happy to offer free advice to whoever it may be, before the lamb was set before the lions. I quickly learned that ‘BigChedda’ was happy to hear what I had to say.

Top 11 tips for playing live:

  1. The best advice I can give is to have fun.  Enjoy the experience.
  2. Remember that no matter how great you play a hand, you simply cannot win the tournament on Day One, and certainly not in the first level.*
  3. There is absolutely nothing wrong with folding.**
  4. Be mindful of your table image.  If you limp into pot after pot, they’re gonna start raising you.  If you raise every hand, they’re gonna start three-betting you.  If you raise every button, they’ll defend their blinds to the death.
  5. The biggest problem I have had in larger buy-in events, including this event last year – was waiting so long for that premium hand pre-flop and failing to admit that I was beaten after the flop, no matter how unlikely.  I got the entirety of my 30K stack into the middle in level two on Day 1A last year with [88] on a QQ8 5 board with no flush possible, not even a flush draw.  As unlikely as QQ, Q8, and Q5 were… sure enough, he had Q5… and I was on the rail.  I played a massive pot without the stone nuts in a tournament with a fantastic structure.
  6. If I had checked back on the turn in this hand, as crazy as it seems – my opponent would not have had the chance to check-raise all-in, and I might not have been faced with an all-in bet on the river.
  7. Don’t get too wrapped in playing overly cautious.  After all, you’re there for free.  Most of these sorry saps in the competition had to put up their own hard-earned money to play.
  8. For the love of God, don’t give away free information by showing how great your fold was after they bet and you know you’re beaten.
  9. Also, as much as it hurts inside, try to refrain from showing the bluffs.  One of the reasons your rare bluffs will be effective is because you never got caught and you’ve built up such a tight image.
  10. After I got all my chips in with one out in the dreadful pocket eights hand, I took a long and lonely walk back to my room.  I eventually let my supporters talk me into firing a second shell.  On Day 1B, I got a ton of chips in with AK in the Big Blind vs AQ on the button.  I never looked back after that hand.  I bagged up a top-ten stack and dominated most of Day 2.  Day 3, I lost a big one with KK vs KQ on a JTx flop.  Real heartbreaker. After the hand, I still had well above an average stack, but my spirit was broken.
  11. I let my emotions get in the way and cost myself an in-the-money finish (and thousands of dollars).  100 places paid out of 1000+ entrants.  And I went out around 108th place shoving in way too many chips pre-flop with 88 when I could’ve raised and then folded when the button woke up to AA behind me. Hindsight’s 20/20, right?

Again, have fun, and Good Luck

Credit where credit is due

* This is what I like to refer to as “The Hollywood Theorem,” courtesy of Brian Hollywood.

** First (poker) book I ever read was @LeeHJones‘s “Winning Low Limit Hold ‘Em.”  Lee finally made folding sound like a great idea.  My favorite book to date, @TheTommyAngelo on Twitter’s “Elements of Poker”.  Tommy makes folding fun.

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