Ante Hero

World Poker Tour host Mike Sexton shows how to bust your tournament cherry without taking it in the savings account.

1. Read Up
Before getting in a tournament, buy Sexton’s Shuffle Up and Deal. Learning various strategies helps when facing numerous opponents at the rapid tourney pace.

2. Log On

Enter a free single-table tournament on your favorite gaming Web site to improve your short-handed match (fewer than six people) and rigid-format game play.

3. Take It Slow

For your first tourney, Sexton says, “get a feel for the table.” So even with low blinds, be cautious and just watch.FYI: Other players don’t care about your MySpace page.

4. Pay Attention

Focus on separating the sheep from the wolves by folding anything less than a high pair. This will allow you to look for other players’ “tells.” Now’s a good time for the shades.

5. Make Your Move

Until now, unless you were dealt the nuts (the best possible hand) right away, you should have been folding like a cheap suit. But in later rounds, when the blinds are big and the stakes are high, get aggressive—waiting for ace-king suited will only make your pile of chips disappear. Play any hand that’s a pair of sevens or higher, and if you’ve got the shortest stack at the table, go all in before the flop on your first big hand. No luck? At least you played smart. Now suck it up and get a real job.