Recently I played in a poker tournament where it seemed that most of the players were being conservative, with the exception of a few renegades. This provided the tournament with some interesting dynamics.
My standard method of tournament play is to speculate a lot in the early rounds with marginal hands. I will try to see a flop with any cards that have the possibility of becoming a big hand. The dynamics of this tournament, though, made me more conservative than I normally am. This is because I had to make sure to have a decent hand if I wanted to compete with the renegades who put pressure on anybody who wanted to play. Also, if one of the very conservative players were to stay in the hand, I would have to be extremely careful, as they would be very likely to have a better hand than me.
These were unusual circumstances for me. Normally in a tournament, I get a good mix of styles, with a couple of aggressive players, a couple of tight players, and a couple of shifty players. I definitely consider myself to be in the shifty category, as I change my style of play regularly.
Due to these unusual circumstances, I ended up playing very little, and usually playing only in very good position. I ended up not hitting any big hands, so most of the pots I won were won by picking up the pot with a small bet on the flop. These small wins sustained me for a while, but with the blinds getting bigger, I was starting to fall behind the rest of the field. With my chip stack dwindling I got impatient and went all-in with A9 and got knocked out by pocket 5s.
I was just way too conservative in this tournament. I was too fearful of the renegade players and scaled back my play. I should have been more aggressive from the beginning of the tournament, like I normally am. The set of opponents I was playing against got me out of my game. The aggressive renegades gave me incentive to be aggressive myself to counteract them, but the problem occurred when I also had to deal with the conservative players at the same time, as I had to give them credit for having hands. I constantly put myself into dilemmas such as these, and I had an unfortunate tendency to go turtle and save the chips I had left, even though it was quite possible I had the best hand. My conservative play harmed me greatly, and I need to learn how to play in these situations.
There was an interesting fact showing the conservativeness were the majority of the players in this tournament. On hands when the action was folded to the player on the button, I saw this player fold instead of raising quite frequently.
After this tournament, I’ve decided that the best way to play against the dynamics that were in this tournament is to be aggressive when you’re in a hand. This has been the best way to play in almost every poker tournament I’ve been in, and this one is no different. I was thrown by the dynamics of this tournament, and stopped playing my game. That was the biggest mistake I made. I am very good when playing my game, but when I stop playing my game, that’s when I start losing, and that is what happened here.
So remember the mistakes I made, and remember to be aggressive whenever you’re playing, as putting pressure on your opponents is much preferable to having pressure put on you.