Poker is a strategy game, and if you are playing in a tournament, then you know that the people on the table will be just as knowledgeable as you. To get ahead in the game, you need to have a couple of aces up your sleeve.
1. Start Slow
Tournaments are all about the long game. You have to survive to the end to have a chance of winning, so you shouldn’t show all your cards too early. Ideally, you shouldn’t double your chip stack unless the other players keep a tight game. If they do, you are being presented with a chance to steal their chips. If they aren’t, you can play conservatively and hope that your opponents wear themselves out.
When the games get going, you can be more aggressive, but for now, you need to study your enemies and hold on to your money.
2. Find Minimal Risk Cards
Say, you open your hand and find a 7 of hearts and a 6 of hearts. Or maybe a 3 of spades and a 3 of clubs. These cards are filled with potential. You only need one more match to create a worthwhile bet.
If you have an Ace of hearts and a 9 of spades, you might think you have the potential to take everyone down, but you will need more luck to get the last couple of cards on the table.
When you are starting off the tournament, keep to the low-risk cards.
3. Be Patient and Think
Many people in a tournament try to win as early as possible. This very rarely works, and this playing style will burn through their chip stacks. Then when the time comes, they have very little strategy to move forward with.
Instead, don’t try to match the speed of the other players. Your slow moves will cause tension and frighten the players too. Use this to your advantage.
Remember that your ultimate goal is to survive longer than the others. Let them overthink while you hold on tight.
4. Protect Your Stack
When you reach the middle stages, you should hopefully have a large stack. At this point, you should be switching from survival mode to protection mode. You might think that acting like the aggressive player will help you gain more clips, and you have chips to lose, so the risk isn’t bad, but you need to keep this large stack for the final games.
Don’t get too smart just yet, instead aim to protect this hoard of gold.
5. Start Stealing
When the danger zone comes into play, and you have fewer and fewer big blinds to play with, you need to stop protecting and start attacking. Ideally, you need to tighten your range and create stronger hands based on the facts and not what the dealer might play next.
Keep building on your stack, as this is the moment where you can build stamina for the final games. Even if you cannot make it to the last round of the tournament, you should be aiming to stay in long enough for the bubble stage.
6. Don’t Ride The Hype Of The Bubble
The bubble stage is when the remaining players in the tournament will win a prize. They have reached the elite part of the games, and so no matter what happens next, they will take home something.
When people reach this lucrative bubble, the game takes on a new face. With fear gone, you will see everyone acting more aggressively, showing their tells more and generally being more chaotic. Try not to join in with this hype. Although you know you will be winning something, you still have a chance at the ultimate winner’s prize. Keep your head screwed on.
7. Figure Out How You Fit On The Table
Look around the table and figure out if you are in an advantageous position and likely hold a good hand, or if you are one of the weaklings the others will try to fight off. If you have a large stack, you can be more dangerous. You can leverage your chips against your opponents’ cards as there is very little they can do to fight you off.
In the other direction, if you have a small stack, you need to protect your hand and dance around the bullies of the table.
8. Going All In
If you have a small stack but a great hand, then you will likely want to go all in. This is a great strategy, but only if you know your cards are great. Some players will purposefully fold when they are holding aces so that their next round will be more advantageous. This is a risky move, but when the stars align, and you know that no one else can have a better card due to your purposeful folds before, it can be all you need to take everyone’s chips.
9. Middle Stacks Should Play Tight
When you are in the bubble, a middle stack should keep their game tight. You don’t want to draw out the big stack players, but you should be safe enough to stick around longer than small stackers.
To keep yourself in the middle stack, you need to balance the game. If you don’t play aggressively every now and then, then you’ll lose your middle ground. If you play aggressively too often, you will lose what leverage you have.
Adjust the table and remember your cards, but play tight until you know your next move.
10. Raising Checks Equals More Flops
If you have a large stack or a medium stack, you should use this leverage to force a flop out of the lower stacks. This is more true when you’re in the bubble, too, as the players will already know they are going to take home something.
Use this to your advantage, and force the weak plays out.
The best advice is always to practice. You can use online casinos like Casino Games to help you master your moves.