Tournament Strategies

Poker tournaments are the best way for beginner poker players to play and learn the game without risking too much. Staying in the tournament for a while and being a little lucky can get you rewarded with a good amount of money. Here are some tips to improve your tournament results and a general insight into tournament strategy for the new players.

  1. More chips means more chance

The strategy used while playing cash games are totally different from strategies used while playing tournaments. It’s all about survival in tournaments; you can be easily kicked out of the game if you are running out of chips.

The amount of chips in your hands always resembles the way you have to continue your game play; therefore, knowing the chips in hand is really important to survive the ever increasing blinds.

Chips value changes as the tournament goes on. At the beginning; the amount of chips you have will be plenty compared to the starting blinds. But, as the blinds increases, the value of chips decreases. Thus, you have to keep up with the increasing blinds by gaining more chips.


  1. Game ambiance changes over time

When the game starts you have good amount of stacks compared to the blinds. Different players’ possess different strategies at this part of the tournament. Some play aggressively to increase their stacks While, other players fold and wait for a good hand to show up. But as time goes the value of your chips seemingly decreases, so using the available time wisely at the tournament is very important. Blowing up your stacks at the beginning may turn you empty handed at the vital parts of the game.


  1. Endurance and patience are the key to success

Playing relaxed in the beginning by only calling good hands and aggressively at the climax is a commonly used method in tournaments. Even though, it solely depends upon your stacks.

Playing logical without making risky decisions (like Gut Draw) at the beginning is a strategy for survival. For beginners it’s better not to make risky decisions since, you cannot foretell the game play of other players.


  1. Make sure not to get overwhelmed or stressed out on the Bubble.

The Bubble is a point at the tournament where players are only few positions behind the pay-out positions. Bubble is one of the intense phases during a poker tournament which can be nerve- racking for players with lower stacks. Because, some players will be left empty handed in spite of the time and money they put to use for coming this far in a tournament.

Players with lower stacks at the Bubble are very vulnerable to be kicked out of the tournament. So, playing with extreme caution; by folding everything that is not an exceptional hand is a way to survive Bubble for a player with low stacks.

But for players who made it to the Bubble with big stacks it’s time for them to obtain more chips. Since, players with small stacks have to fold each time you click raise or all-in. Raising while having a good hand is always suggested.


  1. Don’t be relaxed while playing shorthanded


Short-hand is an unavoidable phase at the core final stages of a tournament. Once there, you should be facing all experienced tournament players. The table won’t be filled with ten players as it was in the phases before.  This will require you to take a precise attitude toward the table as well as a certain unique strategy.  Hands with even High cards are much valuable in this phase, folding for a better hand is not a good choice at this stage since, blinds can drain out your chips a lot.

Playing with weak cards is also an option since the chances of your opponent’s cards are also wide ranged. Playing aggressively is the best option at this phase.


  1. Playing the player and not the cards.

In early rounds it was not necessary for you to analyse your opponents; since so many player entered and exit your table; your focus was entirely on cards. But, at the final table the majority of the players around you are mostly experienced tournament players.

Play extremely tight for the first few hands, thus you will get an idea of how people are playing. Learn the current state of every player; mostly you will notice tight players at the final table. You’ll also run across a few people utilizing the maniac tournament approach. Recognize these players and adjust your play appropriately. After all, final-table play demands “playing the player and not the cards”.



  1. Surviving Heads-up battle

Heads-up is a phase in the tournament in which you have defeated all other opponents except one. Game play here is much different from all other phases. As an old saying goes “Either you runs the day or the day runs you”. Laying terrific strain on your opponent is the only way to survive in a heads-up battle. If not, the opponent will put you under tremendous pressure.

Cards which might be of less value in other phases can turn out to be game changing cards in a heads-up battle.


  1. Splitting Deals

Most of the time at a final table you can find yourself in a situation where the remaining players trying to make a deal out of the prize money. There are chances of them taking advantage of your inexperience by cracking a deal much lower than the value of your chips. Rejecting such offers and cracking a counter offer worth the value of your chips or a deal which goes by the Independent Chip Model (ICM) numbers is the best remedy for such situations. ICM is used to calculate your share of the available prize money on the basis of your stack size. Thus, making a fair deal while splitting prize money. Most probably they will agree with you if they find it as a fair deal.


At times, even experienced players get kicked out of the tournament before reaching the finals. Even tough, some odds are unpredictable; taking right decisions and following successful methods will undoubtedly increase your chances of getting into the finals.



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