The Toughest Game in Town

I played the Wednesday night $235 buy-in tournament tonight at Canterbury Park. I’ve mentioned this before on our podcast and probably in other spots, but that thing has got to be the toughest weekly tournament I’ve ever played. The Sunday Optimum at Running Aces is also probably pretty tough, though I’ve only played it a couple times.

They get between 70 and 90 runners on most nights for the Wednesday night tournament, and I know almost every one of them. And they all know each other. Because it’s the same damn people every night for years now. If you want to see how good you really are, or just play with some strong players to learn a few tricks, The Canterbury Wednesday is the place to do it.

Reasons why the field is so tough in this tournament –

1. It’s in Minnesota

I’ve done a lot of traveling, and I can guarantee you that the average player in Minnesota is much tougher than the average player in most other places. We have good schools, high literacy rates, and while there is some money here, there aren’t a lot of people with more money than sense like you might find in California, Vegas, or the East Coast. We’ve also had poker for a long time, so people have had time to learn. And to top it all off we have some serious poker coaches here.

Jason Senti worked for Blue Fire Poker, a top training site.

Mike Schneider is part owner of CardRunners, the net’s largest training site, and makes videos for them as well.

I work with PokerXFactor as well as running my own training site at and wrote a book on no-limit holdem.

My business partner Adam Stemple makes training videos for PokerXFactor and Grinder U as well as coauthoring my book.

Bryan Mileski’s Minnesota Poker Magazine regularly has strategy articles in it, some of them from me. What other state, especially one this small, has a professional magazine dedicated to it’s poker scene with in-depth strategy articles?

We all combine to make Minnesota games tougher, and very few states have as many opportunities for players to improve by playing bigger buy-in events as often as we do. There are at least ten events a year with a buy-in over $1,000 that are full of strong players, which gives intermediate players a chance to learn quickly from the pros they play with.

2. The same tournament has been running for a long time.

This allows the same players to get used to it and adjust to the structure and learn how to play tournament poker. There are no antes in this event, and everyone who plays it is used to that fact. Raising with weak hands doesn’t do you much good in this thing with no antes to steal, and every one who plays it regularly has figured that out. Minnesotans also tend to be conservative with money, and conservative is a good approach in this tournament.

3. Re-entries end early.

Since the re-entry period doesn’t last long, neither do bad players. In many other events where the re-entry time is longer, the bad players re-enter more often and juice the prize pool. They also don’t get as discouraged by busting early, so they tend to come back more often. Very few people bust inĀ theĀ first two levels, so re-entries are rare.

I’ve done a lot of traveling, and talked to other players who travel as well, and we all agree that Minnesota poker is tougher than almost anywhere else, and this may be the toughest weekly tournament in the country. That doesn’t mean you should be afraid of it, it’s a lot of fun and the environment is friendly. You don’t improve if you don’t test yourself against tough competition, and if you are a strong enough player there is still money to be made. No matter how tough the field is, I’ll be there again next week, and almost every week when I’m in town because it keeps me sharp. Assuming that I’m sharp in the first place.

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