How to Choose Tournament Stops Like The Pros

Professional poker players strategically choose tournament stops based on a blend of potential profitability, competition, personal preferences, and logistical considerations.

The first place to start, according to CLC’s Alex Foxen, is to make sure that the expected ROI is bigger than the total cost of the trip. Foxen also prefers stops that offer many tournaments at the same location or have tournaments that are close that he can hit in close proximity. 

You should also decide if your main goal is to make as much money as possible or if you are mainly chasing the thrill of winning a tournament.

For most professional poker players, they are usually trying to win as much money as possible and maximize their ROI. 

Here’s a detailed look into the factors that guide their decisions:

Prize Pool & Buy-In

While a big prize is enticing, the buy-in is a critical factor. A higher buy-in typically means stiffer competition, but the potential rewards are often equivalent. Professionals must balance the lure of the prize with the risk of the buy-in and the strength of the player field.

Field Strength & Size

Events with a softer field can present better odds for a deep run. Conversely, tournaments teeming with professionals provide a challenge, but conquering such fields can significantly elevate a player’s reputation.

Venue & Location

A reputable casino ensures professionalism, and the cultural or recreational offerings of the host city can be appealing. Some players also have personal attachments to particular cities due to past experiences or successes.

Schedule & Date

Professional players will scrutinize the entire series, from side events to the main attraction. They also cross-reference dates with other global events to maximize their participation and potential returns in other stops that are close by.

Historical Success

A player’s historical performance can serve as a confidence booster. Familiarity with a venue, dealer tendencies, or even the local atmosphere can influence a return to specific stops. 


Traveling, lodging, meals, and other costs are always at the forefront of a player’s mind and can significantly eat into a player’s ROI. Some venues offer packages or partnerships with hotels, providing discounts that can make a tournament stop more financially viable. Many pros have established relationships with casino hosts that can provide discounts on rooms and meals. Other grinders may choose to split a hotel room or AirBnb to save on lodging costs.

Satellite Opportunities

Satellites allow players to gain entry into high-stakes tournaments at reduced costs. A venue offering multiple satellite opportunities presents players with diverse ways to secure a seat at bigger buy in events.

Additional Attractions

Tournament stops in scenic locales or bustling cities offer opportunities for relaxation and exploration. A tournament played in the Bahamas for example is probably much more appealing than one being held in Choctaw, Oklahoma from a location perspective. Turning a tournament stop into a vacation is appealing for many players.

Overall Reputation & Player Experience

Tournaments that prioritize player experience, offer excellent structures, and maintain professionalism are highly sought after. Positive feedback travels fast in the poker community, making reputable stops more attractive.

Current Bankroll & Strategy

Probably the most important factor in selecting what stops to play is a player’s current bankroll situation. A large bankroll allows for shot taking at some bigger buy-in events that will also likely have higher travel and lodging costs while a smaller bankroll usually dictates that smaller events that are closer to home should be considered.

Wrapping It Up

Professional poker players pick their stops by mixing smart planning, a look at their wallets, and what feels right for them. Making a living as a professional poker player is tough – being as strategic away from the table as they are on the felt is essential for maximizing ROI in choosing tournament stops.

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