Cookies on the PokerWorks Website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the PokerWorks website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time.

Continue using cookies

Poker News | Poker Book Review

A Review of The Poker Tournament Formula

Share this
Have you ever sat in a live or online tournament and wondered why other players were firing away with hands like 8-2 offsuit?  More than that, have you ever been flabbergasted by the fact that players like that were actually cashing in the tourney, and often even making the final table and taking the whole thing down?  As you walked away from the table, cursing your luck at having your pocket aces crushed again by a rag hand that caught miracles, did you stop to think that maybe, just maybe, there was some method to the madness of those players?  If so, then you will definitely want to read Arnold Snyder’s The Poker Tournament Formula (Cardoza Publishing).

The author makes it clear from the onset that this book is not like the tournament classics written by Harrington, Cloutier and others.  He describes those books as invaluable, but for a much different style of tourney than that about which he is writing.  Rather than focusing on the longer, deeper-stack tournaments that Harrington so brilliantly analyzed, Snyder is interested in creating an optimal strategy for much faster tourney structures, the kind you see online and in casinos every day and evening of the week.  To do so, he presents what he calls the “patience factor” of a tourney, based on how long it takes a player to be blinded off if he doesn’t play any hands at all.  

His contention is that, the lower the patience factor, the less skill and the more luck is involved in the tournament, and the more aggressive a player has to be in order to survive and thrive, to avoid the pitfalls of his big hands being cracked.  The player who does not employ an attacking style in this type of contest will be blinded off faster than the speed at which premium hands will be dealt to him, and he will eventually be short-stacked and forced to put all his chips at risk at a less-than-optimum time.  It is this type of  “fast” tournament that is the focus of the book.

At the center of Snyder’s strategy is a concept that he borrows from the game “rock-paper-scissors”, with chip stack, cards and position taking the place of the classic hand signals.  Just as in the original, “rock” (chips, since like a rock, you can throw them) beats “scissors” (position), scissors cuts “paper” (cards), and paper covers rock.  This idea is brilliant both in its simplicity and power, since it gives the player something to grab onto when in doubt about whether or not to make a move.  

Beginning with the idea that you will not make the money most of the time in tournaments, Snyder’s focus is on making sure that when you cash, you cash big, by getting to the top spots on the leaderboard.  This requires a constant amassing of chips throughout the tournament, and at the core of that is playing aggressively in position, regardless of what cards you hold.  In fact, the author advises you to start by not even looking at your cards, and simply playing only when in good position, and then taking the betting lead and keeping it through the remainder of the hand.  

As I read this section of the book, I was reminded of Annette Obrestad covering her cards and winning a 200 person online tournament just by sheer aggression and playing the other players, not her cards.  Snyder promotes a similar style of play, with a set of rules to follow about when and when not to play that are quite different than most poker books, and are likely to challenge the belief systems of most players.

In addition to providing a structure for tournament play, Snyder spends a lot of time covering areas that many other books ignore, or devote scant amounts of space to.  One detailed chapter describes optimal play in fast tournaments with rebuys, in which he speaks at length about the various styles of rebuy tourneys, and how best to take advantage of them.  He also details such oft-ignored topics as final table chops, bounties and last-longer bets, and spends a good amount of time showing you the various ways that players have to cheat both in live and online tournament play.  He is also very clear in outlining a variety of bluffs that you should be able to integrate into your game, in order to keep your opponents guessing.

For those players who treat Harrington’s tournament books as sacredly as the Bible, many of the ideas here will push up against some deeply held beliefs.  But what Snyder is actually doing is replacing Harrington’s idea of the importance of “inflection points,” those times in a tourney where your play has to change due to the relationship of your stack to the blinds and antes, with the notion that this style of tournament is really just one big inflection point, where play has to constantly reflect the speed at which the game is accelerating.  The author’s concept is that players who fail to recognize that will forever be at the mercy of the luck of the cards, and will almost never go far enough in a tourney to reach the big money.

For those players who are frustrated with spending hours at the table, only to consistently bubble out of fast-structure tournaments, or make less per hour than a fry cook at McDonald’s when they do cash, this book may open your eyes to a variety of strategies that will enable you to actually make tourney play worth your while.  The book is well researched and contains a very solid mathematical underpinning for all its concepts.  It teaches you how to play a much more adventurous style, while at the same time recognizing the types of players you are up against in fast tournaments, so that you can know who to exploit, and who to avoid.  The Poker Tournament Formula is definitely worth reading, exploring and utilizing for more profitable tourney play.

*Read Clearspine's Blog*

News Flash

The IRS Scores Big at 2015 WSOP ME Final Table

The IRS managed to snag 34.13 percent from the payouts of the 2015 November Nine, totaling $8,467,091.

Read more

Quick Room Review

Bonus Room review

Subscribe to the Nightly Turbo

Be the first to know all the latest poker news, tournament results, gossip and learn all about the best online poker deals straight from your inbox.

RSS Feed