With the $10 million guaranteed Powerfest series rolling into the Heavyweight and High Roller week, Paul Seaton writes a guide into taking shots at bigger games.

Many players in poker have had some of their best results when playing out of their comfort zones. From the first-time player who final tables a live tournament to an online grinder who uses their profits to bink a huge tournament, poker is a game of heart. It also requires skill, strategy and bankroll management, but how can you balance what’s practical with what is possible – namely winning a major tournament outside your usual level?
Cash Game Shots

Rolling above the level of cash games you are comfortable is definitely not what we’re suggesting here. But every now and then there are opportunities to play higher cash games that you should consider embracing.

If you’re playing at £1/£2 whilst making a consistent profit and you are aware that a game not dissimilar to yours has begun at £2/£4 then there is nothing to stop you investing a small part of your winnings. Online may necessitate slightly lower stakes at which to escalate your play, but provided you retain discipline and a stop/loss strategy for how much to invest, then it is worth remaining open-minded with a view to different tables and limits.

Tournament Try-Outs

While many poker players will dream of the big result, few players give themselves enough chances to win the big money early in their poker life. Again, we’d recommend strongly that you practice great bankroll management, but within that if you get the chance to enter tournaments with slightly higher buy-ins than you’re used to playing but with bigger prize-pools and large guarantees, then you should consider the plusses.
Powerfest is a great example of a set of tournaments which may require more investment over the course of a week, but offer much higher prizes. If you are used to entering $60 live tournaments and regularly succeed in making money, then a $109 tournament such as the Grand Prix Poker Tour may appeal. The top prize is guaranteed at $35,000, so why not look into playing it in the place of two of your regular live casino tournaments?

Running Like Bolt

Another good reason to consider stepping up is simply that you’re running well. The reason players might give for this is often quite different to why you should think about pressing home your recent run of form. Running well leads to positivity and can actively engage parts of your brain which make you play better.
Feeling good makes you play well and if you’re running like Usain Bolt, then you want to press home that sprint finish in bigger tournaments and cash games. Just be mindful that if things change and you encounter the dreaded downswing, you retain the awareness to drop back down and lose as little as possible to match maximizing your winnings when you’re running golden.

Sweeping Satellites

One of the best ways you can re-invest your winnings is to factor satellites into your schedule. If you don’t know what they are, a satellite is a tournament which offers tickets to higher buy-in tournaments as its prizes. Players have won millions from satellite tickets they won for a fraction of the tournament entry.
Probably the most famous of these is Chris Moneymaker who decided that his surname was reason enough (possibly) to ping $39 into an online satellite to the World Series of Poker Main Event. That summer he won the whole thing for $2.5 million! It’s not just huge live events, however, many of poker’s biggest tournaments, such as the Uppercut or forthcoming Pokerfest have a range of affordable and value-tastic satellites!

Overlay

Playing tournaments that offer a guarantee is more profitable than ones which don’t. Why? Simply because the prize-pool is set as a minimum before the event kicks off. This can often lead to ‘overlay’, a large guaranteed prize-pool which a lower-than-usual number of players will fight to win the largest parts of. It is essentially free money put into a prize-pool if the tournament doesn’t get the numbers.
If you’re weighing up playing a couple of well-measured higher buy-in tournaments then choosing the one with overlay could improve your chances of success as well as your results column afterwards!

Save Your Best for Festivals!

There are regular tournaments, preferred game choices and tournaments chosen for value. All of these are valid, but part of poker that has kept excitement through the last few developing ages of style and growth are poker festivals. Playing a range of tournaments within one festival can be hugely profitable for many reasons. There is often a deeper mindset to playing a festival and it can give you greater focus than firing up your usual schedule online.
As well as potentially giving players life-changing sums of money, poker festivals, whether live or online, are a great way to connect with like-minded players. Add new players you meet as friends on partypoker and interact live whether you’re at the table or otherwise and you may well build a poker friend group. Add to that the thrill of railing one of your poker friends or having them railing you at a live event and poker festivals can live long in the memory. That’s just as important as a trophy and piles of money, right?

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