Tournament Poker Strategy

One of the biggest areas in which Poker Tournament Strategy differs from Cash Game strategy is that:

Escalating blinds and stages make the difference.

A significant portion of strategic consideration when playing in tournaments is directly related to the fact that blinds and betting structures in tournaments escalate as time goes on. In tournament poker, once your chip stick is gone, so are you, and if that’s not enough the blinds escalate at fixed intervals.

Poker Tournament Strategy

Because the blinds go up, players are forced to play. When a player’s chips have been significantly chopped down, and he or she will be facing the blind in a hand or two, it may be the best course for him or her to gall all in with as little as ace-any-thing. If the player doesn’t, he or she risks going all in the next hand with any two random cards.

In the early period of a poker tournament, the blind structure is similar to a cash game in which the blinds wont kill you. In this period, If you flop four cards of the same suit, you can afford to take a chance to draw for it. However, in the later stages of the game, taking such a chance often isn’t worth the risk and will get you in big trouble.

Poker Tournament Tips

Because of situational factors such as fast action and being put in new situations involving difficult decisions, many mistakes are often made in tournament poker. Take note of these mistakes and become a better tournament player.

  • Many players gamble way too aggressively at early stages in a tournament, with hopes of gaining a huge chip advantage. They continue to play aggressively, trying to win it all early, without shifting gears and adapting to the tournaments structure. A majority of the time, this will cause you to crash and burn. Instead, adjust your play throughout the tournament. Keep in mind the stage of the tournament and your chip stack.
  • Its easy to fall into a habit of consistently playing a mediocre hand after the flop. If a good player bets into you and you flopped a pair with a weak kicker, consider laying it down. Follow a general rule of playing aggressively with high hand selection standards.
  • Particularly at the end of a tournament, you should take note of the size of your opponents chip stacks. Knowing their chip position can help you make key decisions such as whether or not you should even play a hand. You may also want to push someone with a short stack all-in or let other players knock each other out.
  • Make correct decisions in the blinds. This can often be the difference between having success or failing. Play with discretion. Don’t feel like you always need to defend your blind even with a mediocre hand. You don’t want to get yourself into a seemingly cheap hand against a player who has a powerhouse of a hand.
  • Players will tend to play overly tight in the later stages of the tournament. Take advantage of overly tight play when you recognize it and be more aggressive.
  • Especially when your not involved in a hand, study your opponents. Get a sense of how loose or tight they are and how they play.
  • Having a large chip stack allows you to afford more bluffs. Bluffing is very powerful in No-Limit when players have to make decisions for all their chips. How ever, remain selective on bluffing opportunities to avoid being found out.
  • Stay calm and play consistently smart, observing all the aspects and factors to consider in the poker game you are playing. Its easy to go on tilt, but winning players consistently make the correct decisions and take advantage of others who aren’t. It’s poker, you will get bad beats because luck is undoubtedly a huge factor. Maintain a tough mental attitude and make the best choices according to your position in the tournament.

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