Top Tournament Mistakes For New Players
Players who are new to poker tournaments, even those with some poker experience, often make mistakes when adjusting to this form of poker. These errors usually involve a failure to adjust to the various stages that a tournament goes through – from the deep-staked start through to the final table. This article looks at the 4 main stages of poker tournaments and discusses the mistakes that new players can make during each.
The early stages of poker tournaments involve accumulating chips at a point where, proportionally, there are more weak opponents involved. The deep-stacked nature of the early stages also call for some adjustments to your poker strategy.
Common early-stage mistakes include playing hands which are easily dominated, especially out of position. For example a hand such as Ace-Nine is likely to win a small pot or lose a big one. If an ace flops there is a danger of an opponent having a higher kicker, if a nine comes on the board then there is no guarantee that your pair of nines is the best hand.
During the early stages hands such as suited connectors and small pairs (or even suited aces) go up in value. The reason is that hitting a flop with these hands can give you a well concealed monster with which to take an opponent’s entire stack.
Stack Size Counts
The middle stages of poker tournaments are where many new players make mistakes. The main adjustment that people often fail to make is to properly take stack sizes into account – especially in relation to the size of the blinds and antes.
Examples of mistakes here include calling too many raises, especially out of position. With a stack size of 10 to 15 times the blinds there are no longer the implied odds for many hands. What’s more if an opponent continuation bets and you miss the flop it can be very difficult to continue with the hand without committing your entire stack in the process.
Another example is raising to steal the blinds which is far more profitable against medium stacks who are comfortable enough not to get involved too often, A common error is to raise the blind of a ‘desperate’ short stack, and then face pot-odds when the short-stack re-raises which are too good to fold – meaning the initial raiser has committed too many chips based on the true value of the hand.
New players will often tighten up at the bubble of a poker tournament. With the money just a few places away this can seem like a reasonable strategy. This can be considered a mistake in several ways. Firstly, the bubble is an excellent time to accumulate chips from other players who have considerably tightened their calling ranges. Holding a big stack may enable you to win many pots at this stage. A second mistake here is an extension of the ‘calling’ error during the middle stages. Calling at the bubble can be very costly when an opponent puts you all-in on the flop, forcing you to make a difficult decision that a timely raise (or even just quietly folding) would have avoided.
Once the bubble bursts many of the smaller stacks will loosen up considerably in an attempt to build a viable stack for the final table. Waiting for a premium hand in order to get involved here can be considered a mistake – there will be many positive expectation situations available and players should look to accumulate chips here. Again, being the raiser and not the caller will give extra ways to win the pot.
Dominate the Final Table
The final table itself involves yet more adjustments – and so provides more opportunities for new players to make mistakes. The key factors here are stack sizes and the payout structure. The presence of ‘micro-stacks’ will have a big effect on the table, with players reluctant to bust out while they are still in the game. Realising that opponents will play tight in this situation leads to many profitable stealing opportunities which newer players may not always be aware of.
A second final table mistake made by new players involves playing a bigger stack. In this situation playing a ‘big pot’ with an opponent who also has a good chip stack can be dangerous. Stealing from opponents who would have their entire stacks at risk is far more profitable.
To summarise, top tournament mistakes made by new players usually involve failing to adjust to the changing situation at various stages of the game. These include overplaying hands in the early stages, not adjusting to stack size considerations in the mid stages and also not making the correct adjustments for the bubble and then the final table. Awareness of the errors that your new opponents may make will help to improve your tournament results.
Good luck at the tables!