There’s only one thing more exciting than tuning in to watch your favourite poker streamer battle in a big high roller tournament live on Twitch, and that’s playing in a high roller yourself.
For most of us, however, $530 to $10,000 buy-in high roller tournaments are a pure spectacle. It can take years of hard work to build a bankroll large enough to withstand such buy-ins regularly, so many poker players grinding the low to mid-stakes prefer to live vicariously through the likes of Lex Veldhuis, Parker “tonkaaaa” Talbot, Fintan “easywithaces” Hand, and Ben “Spraggy” Spragg.
Of course, there are other ways you can play in a big event without buying straight in. PokerStars runs satellites to just about every high roller tournament, meaning players can win their way in for just a small fraction of the actual buy-in and then have a shot at binking a score far bigger than they’re used to. Tickets for such events can often be won in Spin & Gos and other promotions, too.
Whichever way you find yourself playing a high roller, you’re bound to have some butterflies in your stomach. Here are a few tips to remember when you’re playing your first high roller.
Remember: it’s all relative
It’s hard to imagine, but even high roller crushers such as Niklas “Lena900” Astedt and Conor “1_conor_b_1” Beresford once considered the Big $11 to be the ‘high roller’ of their sessions when they were first coming up in poker.
The truth is a high roller tournament is entirely relative to your bankroll. To a player with an average buy-in of $1.10, an $11 tournament is a special thing. They have the chance to play for a massive bankroll-boosting prize which could change their poker future. On the flip side, to a successful business owner or hedge fund manager, playing a $10,000 high roller event might not feel high to them at all.
That’s why events like Lex Not Live–which kicks off today and runs from May 18-23–and series like MicroMillions are so important for poker. They present micro and low-stakes players with far bigger guarantees than they’re used to, the opportunity to play against tougher competition, and the perfect time to take a shot in some bigger buy-in tournaments.
Lex Not Live Event #5 (May 19) is a $55 High Roller with $40,000 in the prize pool. During a series like the recent Spring Championship of Online Poker, $55 is often the medium level buy-in. But for the vast majority of Lex Veldhuis’ Twitch community, it’s going to be at the very top of their buy-in range, if not far exceeding it.
And that’s what makes it a high roller. It’s all relative. So get excited!
Don’t get pushed around
When you’re playing in the biggest buy-in tournament of your poker journey so far, it’s common to seek advice on how you should approach it. Lex Veldhuis has been asked for advice by his Twitch community more times than we’ve had hot dinners, and his answer is always along the lines of:
“Don’t be intimidated. Don’t let them push you around.”
If you’re playing in a tournament you normally wouldn’t due to bankroll restrictions, chances are you’re going to find yourself up against some tough competition from regulars used to such stakes. It’s never fun to find yourself sitting on the same table as a screen name you recognise as a great player, but you know what? It can be quite exciting, too.
Whether you feel outmatched or not, don’t let yourself be intimidated. Try not to drastically change the way you play. Your opponents get two cards just like you do, so all you can do is try to play those two cards the very best you can. Don’t start over-folding or over-bluffing–that just means they’ve got into your head.
A lot of us have a fear of elimination when playing a big event. We have an attachment to the buy-in and the fear of losing it prevents us from playing our best.
Just play your game. Whatever you did to get yourself in a position to play the tournament, keep doing that!
Believe you can win
The best poker players have something in common: a belief in themselves.
When Fedor “CrownUpGuy” Holz was a young whippersnapper in poker, he didn’t have the success and admiration that he enjoys today. But one thing he certainly had was self-belief.
“I believed [I could win] from the beginning,” Holz says. “I think a big part of success is having the right mindset. When I struggled I motivated myself by watching motivational videos and I got right back into it. Believing in yourself and making the right decisions is the key to winning, in my opinion.”
Even if you feel like an underdog, that doesn’t mean you don’t stand a chance. You could win this thing. Remember that.
You can find more High Roller tips at PokerStars School.
Tournament poker can be frustrating, challenging, even downright bizarre (it shouldn’t be legal for quads to get beaten by a royal flush, but every now and then it happens). But above all else, it can be–and should be–fun.
You’re playing your biggest buy-in yet! Enjoy every second of the experience rather than getting bogged down and beating yourself up when you think you’ve done something wrong. Relish every bluff you get through, every two-outer you hit on the river, and every pot that’s pushed your way.
If you have fun while you’re playing then you’ll have succeeded, regardless of the outcome.