The boom in poker’s popularity is partly due to the increased amount of television programming dedicated to poker tournaments.
Beginning poker players who happen to be watching on TV and attempting to pick up a few pointers will get a very rude awakening when they try to transfer whatever they have learned on ESPN to the actual poker tables, be it online or at a live event. The reason for this is quite simple. Television broadcasts of poker tournaments tend to show only the most exciting of hands that often come down to a coin flip between two players–one who is, in all likelihood, putting his tournament life on the line by shoving all his chips in the pot.
You can’t necessarily blame ESPN or other networks for doing this. They have an obligation to make the broadcasts as exciting as possible for the viewers at home. But if you’re a beginner to the game of poker, its important to realize that most of the tournament action in live games does not consist of a coin flip proposition. Everything depends upon the situation at hand, including such factors as your chip stack, the strength of your opponent, and how far the tournament has progressed.
Let’s take an example. A beginner is playing in a live tournament after watching his favorite pros a couple nights ago on TV. It’s only the fifth level with just over an hour into the tournament. Seated at the big blind, our beginning player is up against a player who raised three times the big blind and saw everyone else fold. The beginner is looking at a pair of 7′s in the hole. He knows the raiser has played a pretty solid game to this point and has him labelled as a decent player. Our beginner has managed to play conservatively up until now with most of his starting chips in front of him. But this situation has him in a quandary.
With it being so early in the tournament, a more advanced player would merely call the bet to get a look at the flop. But our beginner saw Sammy Farha go all-in with his low-to-medium pair and thinks that is what is called for in this situation because that’s what the pros would do. However, on only the fifth level of play and with so much poker action left, you wouldn’t want to risk your tournament life on a lowly pair of 7′s at this juncture.
On the other hand, let’s say the table situation was the same with only one raiser and everyone else folding, but it’s deep into the tournament. You have already finished in-the-money and your chip stack has been dwindling with only about seven big blinds left before you were blinded right out of the tournament. By all means, get all your money in the pot and hope to take down the raiser in a coin flip to double up your chip stack. The situation certainly calls for it.