If you didn’t get the chance to watch ESPN’s coverage of the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event, you missed out. ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3 have been providing live (no hole cards), semi-live (hole cards), and produced coverage of the event (only the best hands, edited commentary), in a nonstop stream of the best poker pros in the world going at it.
Well, that’s what you expect at the WSOP, right? Only the very best players compete in the event? That’s just not the case. The Main Event has always attracted a healthy portion of wealthy businessmen looking for excitement, celebrities looking to raise their profile, or players who built the bank roll to buy-in but just don’t have the skills. These players are mixed in with some major sharks, yes, but don’t get the idea that the Main Event is the best of the best. All you need is $10,000 to get in and, the truth is, a lot of bad players have $10,000.
These kinds of players, from the excitement seekers to the players taking a stab, can be found in any tournament, live or online. You might be playing for profit, playing your odds, making reads, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is.
Profitable play in a tournament is determined by countless factors of strategy, but don’t forget this one. You’re already categorizing your opponents based on their playing styles, their hand ranges, and what they’re capable of. What I’m suggesting is that you categorize what motivates a player to play: are they here to gamble, to get a rush, to get lucky, to get famous? Many of these motivators make a player un-bluff-able, in which case: stick to tight-aggressive. Or trap. Or slow play (though this is rarely recommended). And, rather important to remember: as these players make their rail exit and the field thins, switch gears to deal with the remaining, more-skilled opponents.