Pro tips to navigate massive tournament fields like a Gladiator

Paris Tournament Area
Terrance Reid
Posted on: June 08, 2023 10:20 PDT

The "Gladiators of Poker" event is in full swing at the World Series of Poker at Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas. With a $3 million guarantee and a $300 buy-in, many players are traversing the world to take part in this one.

A total of 3,940 entrants took their shot at Day 1a. With four total starting flights, this looks to be one of the largest fields of the summer.

Before you take your shot at this or any other large-field tournament, take a look at some advice from those that play these on a regular basis. Decades of experience from the following players will prepare you for the challenge ahead.

Tips from those that know

Faraz Jaka

Faraz Jaka has over $7 million in live tournament cashes, runs a training site called, and has helped countless players take their game to the next level.

Faraz Jaka Joe Giron/

Tip #1: Adapt to your table. "You get a lot of weak players in the field," says Jaka. "If you end up at a tough table, it may be a good idea to tighten up and play a much more conservative style. Before you know it, people will bust and tables are going to break, it'll be easy to end up at easier tables."

Tip #2:Don't overvalue your tournament life early. Some people get in this mindset of avoiding busting early and avoiding flips. That's outdated. You need to take those risks so you have a big stack to make a deep run. Don't be afraid to put the chips in.

Tip #3:Don't get too emotional with the swings. If you do build up a big stack, don't get too excited. In a large field like these, you're going to be a short stack at some point. Every tournament I've ever won I was short-stacked at some point. It's part of the journey to win the tournament.

Ashley Frank, aka "PokerfaceAsh"

Ashley Frank has a popular poker vlog and has quickly demonstrated tournament dominance in recent years. With multiple large scores, final tables, and a WSOP-circuit ring to her name, she knows how to navigate the large fields with the best of them

Ashley Frank Ashley Frank, aka PokerfaceAsh - Photo courtesy WPT

Tip #1: Narrow your focus. Massive fields can seem daunting. A sea of people everywhere, it's easy to think, 'How am I supposed to get through this?'. It's important to focus solely on your table. It doesn't matter how many people are in the tournament. All that matters is those eight people sitting around you.

Tip #2: Don't get ahead of yourself. Take each hand as it comes. You can't win the tournament in the early levels. One double-up isn't going to guarantee a win. It's the constant compilation of good decision after good decision. We can't control card distribution or variance, but we can control our decision-making.

Tip #3: Find ways to lower variance. Winning pots via aggression and three-betting is helpful. Attack the loose, passive players. Pay attention to who's on your left, who defends or under-defends their button or blinds. As stacks get shallower, you won't be able to avoid the higher-variance spots. So, building a stack early will help soften the blow for the times variance isn't on our side.

Abby Merk

Relatively new to the poker scene, Abby Merk has invested heavily in studying tournament poker strategy. She plans to play many large-field events this summer.

Abby Merk Abby Merk

Tip #1: Don't be afraid to be aggressive. "Don't fold top pair. (Laughs) For real, though, bet top pair for value aggressively. Don't limp, just don't. If you like your hand, raise it.

Tip #2: Don't force things. Be patient and find your spots. Even though a lot of massive-field events are turbos, you don't have to force it. Wait for the right spots, but be ready to take them when they present themselves.

Tip #3: Don't forget to have fun. The lower buy-in, large-field events are often fun environments. They're great chances to interact with each other and get to know other players. Have fun, relax, and enjoy the experience.

The remaining schedule of the "Gladiators of Poker" event

Today is flight 1b, the second of four starting flight for this new bracelet event. There are still starting flights for both Friday and Saturday, each beginning at 10 am local time.

Each day allows up to two re-entries, so there are plenty of chances to put the above tips into practice this weekend to grab a share of the massive prize pool.

Day 2 will pick back up on Sunday when all four flights will combine together. Finally, the final day will be on Monday when the remaining gladiators play down to a winner.

Best of luck to all the bracelet hopefuls in the inaugural bracelet event at the World Series of Poker.