Hey guys, this is my first post, so let me know what you think.

This article is basically letting you know what you need to prepare for a tournament.

Deck

First things first, your deck. It's a good idea to get your deck set up before you go, so you don't have to waste any time beforehand. You should also consider printing a decklist. I recommend using SteveP's Deck List Program. If you are unsure of your deck, make sure you get there early so that you can set it up. Even if you don't have to set up your deck, it's still a good idea to try and get there early to trade, practice battle, and register.
What you decide to do with your deck is completely up to you, just make sure that it somewhat counters the metagame.

Trades

Trading is a big part of tournaments, too. Bring most of your cards, because some people are collectors, while at the same time, they are competitors. I remember when I went to states someone was looking for a Dark Flareon, which I have, that I didn't bring, because I didn't think that anyone would want any older cards. The guy was offering just about anything. Trades are also helpful because after the tournament, you know what you need for your deck, and you can trade for what you need. This helped me greatly after the tournament, and I got a lot better after that.

Gear

Bags are one of the most useful things you can have at a tournament. I recommend that you get a heavy-duty book bag with lots of pouches, so that you can keep everything organized and easy to carry around. Sleeves keep your cards looking new and wear-free. I prefer KMC or Dragon Shield sleeves. Deck boxes are useful too. Although they are not necessary, they are helpful when it comes to keeping you deck together. You should use a strong plastic box instead of the cheap cardboard ones that you get in theme decks. Binders are good for keeping cards organized for trade and display. I highly recommend Monster Binders. They have strong fabric pages and sideways inserts, so you cards don't fall out or get stolen. PLaying mats are helpful, as they keep your cards from sliding and the sleeves from getting damaged. Dice are almost essential for playing. They are easier to use than damage counters and coins. You need a clear die with rounded edges for flipping, and small dice for damage counters. In the current format, you will almost always need poison makers, so you should pick up some of those, too.


After you have prepared, it's time to go to the tournament. Triple check that you have everything you need before you go. Once you get there, you should pick a table to set your stuff at and to go back to in between rounds. Take your deck with you to register and fill out your decklist. Once you have registered, play a practice game or two, and prepare for the tournament. Most tournaments have between 5-10 rounds, depending on how many people attend. There is normally a break about half way through the tournament for about an hour. Use this time to think about what you could be doing to play better. After the break, most tournaments have raffles after the break, and then get right back into playing. After the main tournament, the top players get called to a few tables to play the semi-finals and finals. The winner get some cool prizes, and so do the runner-ups. If you don't make it that far, you don't have to stay.

Even if you don't do so hot in the tournament, just think of it as an experience that you can use for the next one. :)