Tournament Strategy



Poker tournaments don’t require as much strategy as cash games, but there is one major benefit to playing in a poker tournament. In a poker tournament, you risk a little money while having a chance at winning big money. However, you won’t win anything if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you want to have a legitimate shot at fame and fortune, or just a few hundred dollars, then pay careful attention.


The first thing you should know is that the blinds will consistently increase in a poker tournament. In the early stages of the tournament, this will mean nothing. However, later in the tournament, this will force the action. Therefore, you want to be as prepared as possible when luck becomes more of a factor than skill. A lot of people will take this to mean that it’s important to build your chip stack as much as possible prior to the blinds increasing, but that’s exactly the wrong strategy. If you take this approach, then you’re potentially putting all your chips at risk for small gains. You might think you can avoid such a scenario, but what you do if you flop top set and your opponent goes all-in on a flush draw?


Folding isn’t an option. You will have to call, and this isn’t a place you want to be. Sure, the odds are in your favor for that particular hand, but if you keep putting yourself in that situation, what is the end result going to be?


The best strategy for a poker tournament is to start out very tight. There are many advantages to this approach. The first advantage is that you will be establishing a tight image, which means players will respect your bets in later rounds. The second advantage is that you will have time to learn your opponents’ tendencies. A third advantage is that many players will drop out while you’re waiting, putting you closer to in-the-money by the minute. A final advantage is that you will not be putting your chips at risk when the blinds are low.


As the tournament progresses, begin to loosen up on your starting hand selection, but not too much. For example, if you were only playing pairs, AK, and AQ early in the tournament, then you should now open it up to pairs, AK, AQ, AJ, A10, and Ax-suited. A lot of poker players like playing suited connectors, but they’re misinformed. In the long run, you will lose more money than you win with suited connectors because when you lose to bigger flushes and straights, you will often lose all your chips. It’s better to be the player holding the nut flush or nut straight, which will allow you to take all those chips.


There are several sayings professional poker players have when it comes to tournaments. However, the most important saying is that, “You must win the biggest pot of the day.” This means that if you get involved in a huge hand and miss a draw, then you must be willing to bluff all-in on the river. This is what separates the men from the boys. If you win the hand, then you might end up the chip leader. Even if you’re not the chip leader, you will be sitting pretty. If you lose the hand, then you might get knocked out of the tournament, but this play still pays off in the long run. For example, if you play in 10 tournaments and you get away with the move five times, then in those five tournaments, you will have enough chips to sit back and wait for the final table, or at least until you’re in the money. The wins you enjoy will greatly exceed the entry fees you had to pay in the other five tournaments.