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Tournament Strategy
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Poker Tournament Strategy

A poker tournament can be any poker game with more than a single table. It can be a small table group, 12 people, winner take all, or it can be thousands of people. The pay structure may be winner take all, ten percent payout, or final table only pays. A poker tournament online can take many hours to play, or like the WCOOP main event, a day and a half. We aren't going to bore you with all the finer details of things you may run across, or the odd occurrences, we will simply guide you to the point where you know whats happening, and how to make money.

Understand the game you are playing! Don't practice or learn a game at a tournament, go watch single tables, or play free money games. Sit and go's are where you should be playing to hone your skills and learn the finer points of each type of poker game. Have the time and the patience to play a tourney. Turn your web browser off, you are playing poker, not searching the web. Understand your goals when you register, you want to play solid poker, and make money. Don't look at the winner payout, only one person wins. Know what ticks you off, and when you are tilting. Don't type away telling someone how bad he is, get up, walk around, think about how you played it well, and still lost. DON'T play hands when tilting.

Because of the many different types of games, blind structures, and other variables, we wont be too specific about tourney play, and will focus on pot limit and no limit games in this section. Understand everyone is on the same footing no matter skill level to start a tournament. We all start with the same amount of chips. The idea is to pick your spots, and take chips, steal chips, and allow others to donate their stack to you. The most important thing to remember is don't donate! Don't fish almost impossible hands, understand odds, both of pulling your miracle, and of winning. Play quality starting hands, check our section of starting hands for details. Don't overpay to see flop, with a drawing hand. Limit your opponents with bets and raises when you have a huge starting hand. Understand what a starting hand is, the base for the next set of cards, or community cards. I am not a big fan of slow playing, But there is a time and place for everything. Understand taking down a pot, with a good raise and not going to river does two things, you add to your stack without risk, and no one sees your hands.

Chip stacks should grow over a tournament. Some people say id rather be a maniac early and get a big stack, or go out early and try again. Remember two things, as long as you have chips, you are still in the tourney, and you cant lose your chips by folding. Many people play to win it all or nothing, That's great for them, but it isn't realistic. Online poker isn't a WPT event or the WSOP. We cant read faces, body language or see the shaky hands. Many pros say playing against online players is the hardest thing for them to do, since they cant read them, and for the pro all they can do is math, and determine if they should or shouldn't call. Most poker sites will give you a chips stack count relative to others in your tourney, short stack, leader, and average and where you sit. I wont bog you down with factors like count relative to blinds or other factors commonly used by pros. Play your hands, don't overplay suspect or drawing hands, always take a free card to your draw. And remember when in doubt, fold it!

You have been playing for hours and you are almost at the pay levels, what to do now. Well it depends on you and your cards. Making the money to me is always better than going out with nothing, time=money, i want to earn. You are average stacked and in a blind, UTG raises and someone goes all in, it will cost you most of your stack. What do you do. You look down and see Q-Q, you now have a big decision. You are sandwiched, a term which you should know. A raise in early position, and an all in to that raise. You have a good hand, it wont cost you everything but it will cripple you if you lose, and you are not last to play. If you call the all in, you may be put all in by the original raiser, are you ready to go against two with your ladies? The play is to stop, drop, and watch! In theory you will need to draw to win, early position is more than a steal attempt, the all in is i have a bigger hand than you, and everyone else out of the way. You drop and see big slick against kings, good fold.

You have made the money, and now want to move up pay levels. Blinds go up and dig into your stack every hand. If you have made the money you are now looking to increase your return on investment. Two very fast comments here, just sit out, and you will move up, you wont win, but you may move up a level or three on payouts, because once the money is made, people push hard, and just want to double up or go out. Don't play medium ranking hands, Because pople will push all in, you want the odds on your side. Don't get cute, don't try and bust three others, push hard, with big hands, and look for heads up on flop. Know your odds and know when you are pot committed.

Online poker and tournament play now has third party software to let you track your play, the play and history of others, as well as poker calculators and software that runs in the background while you compete. These tools are available and when you think you need them they are nice to have. But remember what i said earlier, you cant go broke folding a hand. Good luck and see you at the tables!