Poker Tournament Strategy

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Poker tournaments are an enticing challenge to every poker player. However, although the basic poker skills required are the same there are important differences between tournament play and ring games.

Your first step to succeeding in a poker tournament is to understand the rules of the contest. Many novice players don’t pay attention to the possibilities of rebuys and add-ons that can affect both your own strategy and that of your opponents so check the rules carefully.

Understanding the blind increases is also vital to your success. As the tournament progress the blinds will increase and have a greater impact on your stack so make sure you know what to expect at each stage the contest. The rate at which the blinds increase will also give you a clue as how long the contest will last. The quick the blinds go up the quicker the contest.

You should always bear in mind that a tournament is about gradually increasing your chips and holding onto them over time. Aiming to win one big pot won’t get you far in a tournament because the blinds will quickly reduce it. You need to make a steady increase and not give away chips. In the early stages, that is before there is an increase in blinds you should play tight. Fold out on anything except your very strong hands but play those aggressively. Try and get your opponents to fold before they get a chance to better their hands. Resist the temptation to play many hands while the blinds are low. Be patient, you will get your chance to win more chips later on.

By the middle of the tournament there will be range of chip counts around the table. This scares some players to begin playing loosely and you should try and cash in on them. Play more aggressively, but only a little more so. You goal is to make it to the final table and avoid elimination. The increasing blinds will be pressuring your opponents so look for the ones who are getting scared and take them on when you have a good hand.

At the same time the big chip holders sometimes become over-confident and play weaker hands because they can afford to. If you see this then don’t be afraid to go all-in against a big chip holder when you have a very strong hand. It can be a chance to make a big increase in your chips.

In the final stages you will need to play cautiously. The blinds are the biggest concern especially if you are short-stacked. If the big blind is more than a third of your stack you are in danger. Play aggressively when you have a good chance to double up your chips with a strong hand. Try to force decisions on your opponents. Whenever possible go up against smaller stacks that may back down if they have anything less than a nut hand. Tournaments will test all of you poker skills but the more you play the more you will learn and find yourself on the final table more often.