The World Series of Poker has started up again, and we are quickly approaching the Main Event. Many players will participate in the WSOP Main Event this year, but few will leave with more money than they came with. The question is, what separates the winners from the losers? In poker, it’s tough to pinpoint any one factor, but here are some tips to help give you the best chance to win a big live tournament.

Most importantly, work on improving your poker game.  

Some players hire coaches (that can get expensive), others practice playing up against stronger competition (that can also get expensive), but there are plenty of resources available on and off line that can help improve your game:

1. AdvancedPokerTraining.com – This poker training site offers a comprehensive method of training for all types of poker, including multi-table tournaments, and the price is a bargain with a single low price for access to all features.  The basic idea is that you play a bunch of hands very quickly against artificially intelligent computerized opponents and you receive a complete analysis of your game through detailed reports and a weekly training plan.  You also can take part in a series of Beat the Pro Challenges that pits you up head-to-head against the best while receiving detailed feedback on your play.  You can think of AdvancedPokerTraining.com as targeted training that adapts to your game and helps you improve very quickly.

2. RedChipPoker.com – Red Chip Poker is a poker video and educational site that offers many options for improving your tournament play.  Perhaps the most detailed is champion coach Jonathan Little’s complete training guide for the WSOP.  If that is out of your price range, the site also has some great video resources from noted poker authority Ed Miller on game-theory optimal poker.  Miller also has an excellent blog post on the topic.

3. Tournament Poker Edge – this is a video training site that is dedicated exclusively to improving tournament players.  As with many poker training sites, it is primarily videos. Unlike many sites, it is divided into structured classes and focuses on theory and self-diagnosis.

4. Read the classic Harrington on Hold’em series – There has never been a more theoretical series of books written on winning tournament hold’em – and this is written by a player with a long history of making final tables.  If you’ve never read this, get these books.

Stay Healthy

Outside of your game, nothing is more important to winning the WSOP Main Event than your health.  It all starts with eating right and getting enough sleep.  2008 WSOP Main Event Champ Peter Eastgate attributed his success to his healthy habits during and before the tournament: “It is quite simple — in order to optimize your performance you need to think of how you eat, drink, sleep, and exercise to improve your physical and mental balance.”

So how else can you get your body and mind ready?  Some pros recommend meditation and relaxation exercises .  But almost everyone recognizes that sleep is a big part of it.  Get yourself on a set sleep schedule and stick with it.  All medical research recognizes that sleep replenishes your brain power. Yet when you go to the WSOP, what you see are people staying up late and sometimes not sleeping at all.  Be realistic, it’s going to be exciting and you might have trouble getting to sleep.  But recognize that perhaps getting used to a new sleep pattern (maybe 1am-10am) may be your best option for maintaining a healthy amount of sleep.  And you definitely need the sleep – don’t tell yourself that you are different.

Finally, eat and drink right.  Let’s face it, you want to spend as much time playing poker as possible.  That often leads to a lot of fast food, sodas, and unhealthy behavior.  Water is your friend – drink plenty of it.  Alcohol is your enemy.  Nothing can trash your play as fast as alcohol, and it will be all around you in Las Vegas.  Avoid it completely and your will be up a few brain cells on most of your competition.

Conclusion

There’s no one method of improving your tournament game that works for everyone.  With the suggestions above, find what works best for you and get ready to come back home a winner from the WSOP Main Event or whatever live tournament you are training to win.