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Poker Tournaments at the Finger Lakes

You don’t have to live in Vegas or be on a links to enjoy some of the best poker tournaments around today, but getting started can be a little confusing for the uninitiated. With that in mind, we thought it would a good idea to take a look at where interested players in Finger Lakes and the wider New York area can turn to take part in a local event.

What can you can expect, how do you prepare for the rigors of these competitions, and where can you build the practice necessary to perform at the top of your game? Keep reading to find out.

Finding Tournaments in Your Local Area

When looking for a tournament around the Finger Lakes, a good place to start would be the largest of the local casinos. You’ve probably noticed a few in your daily duties anyway, so simply visit their websites to take a look to see whether or not they have anything coming up. While there are many to choose from in the Finger Lakes area, with some of the biggest in terms of tournaments being the Seneca Salamanca, Turning Stone, Presque Isle Downs, Rivers Mohawk Harbor and Casino Niagara.

Before you go on and apply, though, there are a few things which you need to know. The first is that the buy-ins for these tournaments can run the range of minor to quite high, so you should check to see whether they suit your bankroll and level of comfort. On the low end, you’ll be looking at somewhere around $20, whereas the high-end tournaments can charge upwards of $300 for entry. The second thing to keep in mind is the time limit which applies to each level of play. These average around 15 minutes for the shorter levels to 30 minutes for the longer levels. Generally speaking, the higher the buy-in, the longer the levels will be.

What is also important to know going in is that almost all of these real-life tournaments revolve around No Limit Hold’em. This is great for many fans owing to how popular Texas Hold’em has proven to be, but it can be a bit more prohibitive to fanatics of other games like 7 Card Stud or Omaha. Don’t always assume it’s going to be Hold’em, though – be sure to check ahead of time so you know what tournament you’re getting into.

Preparing for the Tournament

Don’t think you can just cowboy your way up to a tournament and perform well, especially if this is your first outing. Preparing for a poker tournament is just like preparing for any other event which requires patience, attention and a clear mind. Be on time, be rested, sober and without major distractions, and you’ll enter with chances far greater than what you might have otherwise.

Alexix Ibbarola


Cedric Cavalier” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by World Poker Tour

caption: Keep an eye on your opponents, whether you’re in or not

The other aspect of this, as relayed by the pros, is understanding that an enormous proportion of this preparation is performed within the early stages of the game. Playing successfully in live poker means getting to know your opponents, their backgrounds and their tendencies right at the beginning of a tournament. Many players will go into a poker tournament more open in the early stages, and this can be your perfect opportunity to get ahead.

Also recommended by the pros here is that you keep a close eye on how other players act even when you aren’t part of a hand. It can become easy to zone out to focus on your upcoming strategy during these moments, but this can also be the greatest moment to take advantage of the gap in your opponent’s defense. It’s often easier to evaluate people when we aren’t part of the equation ourselves, so look at what hands they play, how they react, and what seems to get under their skin. Just remember that the best players will be watching you watching them, so be sure to keep it as subtle as possible.

Building Relatable Experience

One of the best things about poker practice is that we don’t even need a physical group in order to gain considerable experience. Poker rooms are all over the internet, and many will offer experiences directly relatable to those you would find in a psychical casino or casino tournament. This even goes as far as including online poker tournaments, meaning you can get tournament experience without even leaving the comfort of your own home.

Signing up to poker websites is simple and often free, and there are simpler flash-style games offered by online games websites that can help players gain experience for free before jumping into online real-money poker games. Even better is that unlike in-person tournaments, online games and tournaments are much more generous when it comes to the ease of selection.

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4_aces” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by mr.l
caption: Online poker is a great way to build experience at all levels of the game

You won’t just find games and tournaments of Hold’em versions online, as players can expect to come across many active tables which include favorites like stud poker and hi/lo. Of course, there are still many Hold’em tables still available, and these are probably the best in building your skills back to the tournament scene.

While some interpersonal aspect of these online tournaments can be difficult to translate, many of the skills and psychology operate in much the same manner. Players will still need to keep a quick mind on the odds of each card combination and the tendencies of their opponents over time. In some ways this can actually make the physical tournaments easier, as actual personal proximity will give players more to go on. Just don’t let lack of poker-face experience be your downfall.

Nothing Good Comes Easy

There is no such thing as a perfect poker player, so don’t expect that practice will make you an undefeatable god at the game. That said, practice in the growing Finger Lakes casino industry will make for significant improvement, and it can take months or even years before the harder lessons become second nature. Remember that attitude is key, arrogance is the downfall of many of the best, and experience is the best way to consolidate theory.

Keep a record, remember your victories and mistakes, and you might up carving a legacy in the Finger Lakes for yourself.

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