Sweating the Freeroll

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I was sweating my neighbor last night while he was playing Round 1 of the $2.5 Million Moneymaker Millionaire Freeroll Poker Tournament last night. The top 50 in this tournament advance to Round 2. He was doing a great job through the first few hours.

He was determined to make the top 50, as he really wanted to advance. I have to confess, for starters, I'm so not a fan of freeroll poker tournaments that the public can freely enter. The play there is pretty much horrible... To my surprise, sweating him in this tournament did in fact help my outlook on tournament poker.

He was often getting anxious. He's sitting with an M of 70, and 3x avg stack and saying stuff like, "I need to make a move... I really need top 50... I want to advance." And those thoughts would cause him to want to play hands such as 10-5 suited under the gun. His roommate also had his eye on him and would prevent him from playing such garbage.

Bottom line, he was caught up on finishing top 50, and was "feeling" desperate. With numbers like that (M=70, 3x avg stack), he didn't "need" to do a damn thing. However, he was caught up with keeping his head above top 50, and thought it was correct to take unnecessary risk to get there. I think this is natural to feel this way. But, it's not "correct."

Instead, focusing on staying at or above avg, playing hands correctly "in position" and discarding garbage hands, and making smart reads should be the focus. If you focus on that, you'll make it in the money more often than not.

I sometimes forget that when playing tourneys. I get caught up on where the money line is. Cashing is the goal (winning's the goal, but cashing is nice too), but it shouldn't be the indicator I am looking at in the tourney. Avg stack, my M, my table's avg. M, and the M of the average stack are the stats that "should" be most important to me. These should collectively tell me how desperate I am and what kinds of hands I should be playing, in addition to how I should be playing them. This information may also tell me how desperate the field might be.

Thanks to my sweating Matt in this freeroll, I remembered to focus on the important stuff...