Playing poker tournaments can be one of the most rewarding and profitable
ventures as an online poker player as they generally offer substantial
prizes for a fraction of the buy-in when compared to traditional cash
game play. Although poker tournaments represent a great chance to increase
your playing bankroll, the mindset and strategy involved in becoming
a good tournament player is vastly different than cash games and requires
discipline, patience and as with all poker games, a little bit of luck.
In order to effectively outline proven methods for winning poker tournaments,
we are going to look at the various stages of tournament play and examine
some of the better strategies for each section. By the end of this
article, you should have a good sense for tournament strategy and how
a lot of the top players survive the fields and make it to final tables
on a consistent basis.
Early Stage Tournament Strategy
In the early stages of a poker tournament you want
to be playing tightly and not putting your stack at
risk in any situation. At this point in the tournament,
you are looking to pick up small pots that nobody
wants to slowly add padding to your overall stack.
By focusing on this early and not risking too many
chips, you will be putting yourself in an ideal position
for the later stages of the tournament.
Mid Stage Tournament Strategy
During mid stage tournament play, a number of players
will have decreasing bankrolls and be looking rather
desperately to remain in the tournament. This is
a great time to loosen up your play a little bit and
possibly take out some of the short stacked players
that are trying to stay in. Obviously doing with
premium hands is the best strategy; however you will
find that many players are willing to risk their stacks
with mediocre hands just to stay in the tournament.
By trying to eliminate the short stacked players along
with continuing to pick up small pots, your mid stage
play should be setting you up for the later and tighter
stages of the tournament.
Late Stage Tournament Strategy
As mentioned, the late stages of the tournament
are where the players are going to tighten up substantially
as the pay levels grow larger with each and every
knockout. If you are willing to take the risk, the
late stage is a great time to become much more aggressive
as most players will fear losing their stack and not
finishing in the big payouts. Using this aggressive
style will also allow you to pick up a fair number
of blinds which at this stage will be very substantial.
Overall, in late tournament play although you might
be feeling the nervousness of making the big money,
a looser style of play will help you to pick up a
lot of chips that can be crucial at the final table.
Final Table Play
Assuming that you reach the final table, your new
goal as a player is to win the tournament no matter
what it takes. You will notice that a lot of players
relax a little bit once they have reached final table
play and the short stacks will most likely try to
double up or bust out in the money. A good strategy
for final table play depending on your chip count
is to allow around half of the table to bust out before
increasing your play to aggressive. At this point,
you will be left with the solid competitors who most
likely will be tighter players, so this is a good
time to turn on the aggression and win the tournament.