Poker tournaments are every player’s fantasy as they offer a life-changing amount of money along with the title. But it isn’t that easy as astounding it sounds. Most of the players don’t even make it to the final table nor have the chance of making any winning.
In this section, we will discuss a few poker tournament strategies that will help beginners and intermediate players in becoming a fierce competitor in tourneys. First of all, let’s figure out some of the significant differences between tourneys and cash games-
Significant differences between Tournaments and Cash Games
As we know some of the fundamental differences, let’s begin with the tips –
Tip-1: Play according to the stage
Almost every poker tournament, whether offline or online have three stages – beginning, middle and end. The first rule of playing a poker tournament is to play according to the stage—one big reason for this the nature of blinds. The blinds are the smallest at the start of the competition and the biggest at the end-stage. So, you see there is no such need to take high risks at the starting when the blinds are the lowest.
Many players simply play each stage the same way. Always remember, to excel in tournaments you should play the late stages much more aggressively than the first ones. Also, you can create the image of a tight player in the starting, which will help you gain more respect when you open up your game in the later stages.
Starting tightly at the initial levels is a good poker tournament playing strategy. As the tournament progresses and players get eliminated, open up your game. By this strategy, you should survive the early rounds almost every time.
Tip-2: Keep an eye on your opponents’ stacks
Once you are through the early stages and the game is opening up a bit, don’t forget to check your opponents’ stack sizes and compares it with yours. Stack sizes are essential in the middle stages as many players provoke you to go all-in. At this stage, remember these three points-
Tip-3: Know when to steal and when to protect the blinds
Once you have reached the middle stage of the tournament, it is time open up your game and take some worthy risks. The most important thing is to know when to pick the blinds and when to leave them. So, whenever the blinds reach to a level where they are equivalent to a large portion of your chip stack, picking them up without seeing the flop. Now, there are a few circumstances where you can attempt this strategy. It is the most beneficial when you are in late position, and all the players have folded to you. In this scenario, you can profitably raise with any two cards.
Tip-4: Being on the bubble
Let’s say there are six players left in the tournament and top five get the winning amount. This situation is called being on the bubble. At this stage, most of the players except for the one that is deep and short-stacked are going to tighten up their game style. Now, this could be a very profitable time for you. Don’t be afraid to show pre and post-flop aggression when you are in charge, but also consider the stack size of your opponents. Good players might know this tactic and protect their blinds. Always remember your only goal here is to take down the pots and not outplay your opponents. There is always an extra chance of the short-stacked player being eliminated.
Tip-5: Making to the Final Table
The final table is what the whole chaos is all about, and getting it is not that easy. It takes focus and a lot of calculation and hard work to reach there. Now, there are a few tactics which can help you reach the final table-
Stay aggressive – As discussed above, you must play according to the stages of the tournament. You need to play aggressively, especially in the late stages. Keep an eye on opponents who are trying to hold onto their chips, build pressure on them.
Timely aggression – Playing aggressive doesn’t mean you lose your focus or are carelessly raising the bet. Aggression wins the game, but there’s one thing which is often silent or hidden, i.e. “timely aggression.” Look for opportunities where your chances of winning are highest by being aggressive.
Moreover, winning a poker tournament requires skill and right decision making capability. Developing a style of play that is bold and fearless will always take you to later stages. This gameplay will help you to take advantage of players that are “playing passive”. And, whenever there is a chance to steal the blinds, do so. But, remember no to repeat it in every round. Once you reach the final table, it’s all up to you. The most significant barrier between you and the winning amount is your complacency. Many players lose their focus when they reach into the final stage and start thinking of it as a lottery. But it is not. So, don’t lose your focus, spend some more time, and you might win the jackpot.