10 Tips For Successful Poker Tournaments
There are many strategy adjustments required for successful tournament play. The 10 tips for successful tournaments below will get you off to a flying start!
1 – Play To Win, Not To Cash
The payout structure for poker tournaments is extremely ‘top heavy’, reaching the final table will often pay 10 or more times the lowest payouts. The rewards of reaching the final table mean that you should always play with this in mind – getting there just once in several attempts will be more profitable than cashing alone. Don’t sabotage your tournament earnings by worrying too much about lasting long enough to make a paid place.
2 – Implied Odds Rule The Early Stages
When the stacks are deep in relation to the size of the blinds you should play more hands that have a chance of winning an opponent’s entire stack. Small pairs and suited connectors can flop a well-hidden monster and enable you to double up. Play these hands when it is cheap to enter the pot.
3 – Stay Ahead Of The Blinds
Stealing blinds is necessary as these grow in relation to the average chip stack. There will simply not be enough ‘premium hands’ to go around – so playing too tight will see your stack dwindle. Make it your objective to stay ahead of the blinds by stealing when you are first to enter a pot, taking tendencies of opponents and stack sizes into account.
4 – Be The Aggressor, Not The Caller
Aggressive, positive poker play is a good characteristic in all forms of the game. In tournaments this is even more important, especially when playing a small or medium stack. Calling raises when the stacks are shallow will often leave you facing difficult decisions. Make sure your opponents are the ones making these – by playing positive and aggressive poker.
5 – Take Chips From Inexperienced Opponents
Whilst playing against inexperienced opponents has its risks, it is important to ensure you play pots with these players. The reason is that if you do not take the chips from the ‘fish’ then someone else will – and those chips will be far harder to win from a more experienced opponent later in the tournament.
6 – Be Aware Of The Short Stacks
Short stacks are likely to push all-in with a wide range of hands. They can become desperate enough that any pair, ace or 2 high cards start to look very attractive. If you are raising without a strong hand make sure there are no ‘extra short’ stacks in the blinds. You will probably be forced to call their push (due to the pot-odds) in a situation where you wish you did not have to.
7 – Your Stack Size Dictates Your Starting Hands
As you stack shrinks in relation to the blinds and antes your starting hand requirements will change. Small pairs and suited connectors become less attractive with a medium stack as you do not have the correct odds to get ‘paid off’ those times you do hit the flop. High cards become more attractive – especially when you are the first to enter the pot. With less than 10 blinds any raise should usually be all-in, since you will have the correct odds to call any re-raise you may as well get the maximum benefit from your chips first!
8 – Take Advantage Of The Bubble
With just a couple of players to bust before the paying places many opponents will tighten up considerably. Take advantage of this by stealing as many pots as possible. Medium stacks are the best targets for your steals, they have enough chips not to want to risk busting without a premium hand.
9 – Observe The Last 3 Tables
As the end of the tournament approaches it can be beneficial to watch the last 3 tables. Since you will meet many of these opponents at the final table, any notes you can make on specific tendencies may turn out to be very profitable indeed.
10 – At The Final Table You Should Aim For 1st
The lowest payouts at the final table will only be a small proportion of the 1st place prize. While observing which opponents are playing to move up the money is important you should be aiming for the top spot yourself. Do not tighten up too much, especially when a positive expectation situation arises. The times you bust in an earlier place will be more than compensated for by reaching the big prize occasionally.