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How to succeed in online backgammon
The multitude of game options in an online backgammon site lobby can be rather overwhelming for a novice backgammon player. The danger for many new players is that they will just take a head dive and start playing where it seems most attractive. This, however, is very likely a waste time and money and chances are that a player will soon become too frustrated and will give up playing. It is therefore very important to evaluate the situation and to establish a clear roadmap to follow instead of rushing into things. In this article we'll lay down such a roadmap for novice backgammon players to follow, which has proven to improve their game and also benefit them financially in the long run.
The importance of tournament play
To be successful in backgammon in the long run you need to play in tournaments. Because of the higher stakes, the extended focus required in fighting for advancing to further rounds towards the finals you will be learning more than in normal off-tournament matches. Many backgammon players believe that tournament play is vital for the long-term development of a backgammon player and that one well-played tournament match equals to 1.5 - 2 normal off-tournament matches. So, if you don't want to waste your time but to grab the bull from its horns you should start playing in tournaments.
Once you start playing in backgammon tournaments your development will progress faster than those who regularily play single off-tournament matches. Obviously you can't expect to learn everything simply by playing the game, you will also need to read about backgammon strategies and put theory into practice, just like on any other hobby you would take seriously. But despite you'll be becoming a better player you should also expect to run at a loss in the beginning of your backgammon career. Tournaments are more expensive to participate in than off-tournament matches and therefore you'll be loosing more money. However, consider it as an investment for the future, because at a certain point you'll be advancing to later rounds in larger tournaments and winning smaller ones and your earnings will also be higher than in off-tournament matches.
There are obvious benefits for a novice backgammon player in tournament play. Therefore it is now the time to introduce a tournament roadmap, a sort of training programme, that has proven to work for many beginners.
1. Sit and Go's
The ideal way to start is to play in Sit and Go tournaments with low buy-in fees against players whose rating is close to yours. Rating limited tournaments are very good for this purpose. In Sit and Go's you can choose between Swing and Knockout tournaments - Swings tend to last longer due to the nature of the game and if you have 3-point match Knockout tournaments available they are very good too.
2. Sit and Go tournaments without rating limit
Once you have enough experience and confidence, try how it goes against players with ratings above 1600. They will provide you with enough challenge and you will be learning a lot from those tournaments and there is no need to attend higher buy-in tournaments. Keep playing in $1.25-$2.30 buy-in tournaments.
At some point your rating could have dropped close to 1400, which is perfectly normal and also expected. When you start seeing a increasing trend in your rating (and earnings), it is a sign that it is time for you to move on to the next step.
3. Daily tournaments
By far the most popular tournaments are the regular daily tournaments where the winners can reach over 20-fold prizes for their buy-in fees. This is also the level you'll be spending a considerable amount of time, practicing the various backgammon strategies and laying the foundations for those large money prize tournaments.
4. Combining all tournament types
Once you can take control of a tournament match against an experienced player your rating will be probably somewhere around 1700. Start playing in all types of tournaments; do higher buy-in fee Sit and Go's, check how you are doing in larger Satellite and Special tournaments but still maintains focus on daily tournaments. You are definitely going to see many lower-rating players in big money tournaments that you won't be regularily attending, but if you follow those tournaments you'll notice that most of those guys are just wasting their money: they are often out before they managed to win back their expensive buy-in fees. So you shouldn't go playing in those tournaments regularily until you have a real chance.
5. From loss to profit
When all has gone according to plan you should see more money flowing into your account than you deposit. Be careful, though, don't get too confident. In bigger tournaments you are likely to play against players of levels and ratings you haven't played against yet. Stay focused and don't stupid silly mistakes.
At this stage it doesn't really matter any more what types of tournaments you play in. Just obey one rule: don't play regularily against weaker opponents. That'll just degrade your game, make you a weaker player and it'll cost you money in the long run.
The key to online backgammon success lies in tournament play. As a new backgammon player you should start playing in tournaments as soon as possible. But in order to maximize the benefit of tournament play you should follow a gradually progressing "training programme", such as the one we have outlined in this article. You shouldn't forget about reading about backgammon strategies and theories, though. The combination of the two will make you a better backgammon player and will also have a positive effect on your bank account.
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