Texas Holdem Tournament Strategy Tips

Poker-TournamentsPlaying a multi-table tournament is going to play a lot differently than in a single table tournament. The following article will discuss some of the aspects that are related to playing any texas hold’em tournament with a large field.

Basic Texas Holdem Tournament Strategy

Even before the actual tournament gets started, there are a few things you need to fully consider in order to devise an overall strategy that will give yourself every chance of winning the tournaments, which is of course the ultimate goal every time you play. It is important to take the early phase of the tournament very seriously, because it will greatly affect you chances later on. It is impossible to win a tournament if you don’t survive the early stages of the tournament.

In order to have success in MTTs you need to be prepared to change gears a few times during the game. The game changes and players at your table will have varying stack sizes and playing styles as it progresses and consequently, you have to change the way you play. Like all things in poker, there is no default way to play, it depends on the situation.

With this in mind, you should pay close attention to the tournament blind structure, since it has such an impact on the overall strategy that you will use to win the tournament. How long is each blind level? If they increase at a slower rate, this will give a lot of time to wait for good hands. On the other hand, if there is a fast blind structure, you will have to play much looser, as the blinds are increasing and eating into your stack at a much faster rate.

Another thing to consider before playing any tournament is the starting chip count. You need to compare the blinds structure with how many chips you have when you start. For example, if the starting chip count is 1500 and blind levels start at 20/50, you may play fairly tight for the first few rounds, but if the blinds start out at 50/100 with the same starting chip count, you would have to play more aggressively then you would normally.

How to Play During the Early Stages

When the tournament is just getting started, you need be patient and have to understand that in tournament poker, every player starts with the same amount of chips, and the game will typically be played over several hours. So there is no hurry, as the size of the blinds in relation to your chip stack is not very big.

Generally speaking, during this stage of the tournament, it is recommended to play as tight as you can. The main reasons for doing this are:

  1. You don’t want to risk loosing too many early on as it will cripple your chip stack and make it very difficult to win.
  2. By playing a tight game, when you do play a hand and come out betting or raising, the other players will be more careful as they will put you on a strong hand. You can certainly use this to your advantage later on in the tournament to steal blinds and pots.

Many tournament players think that they need to be the chip leader or close to it from the get go in order to have any chance of winning the tournament but this just isn’t the case at all. When playing any tournament with a decent structure, you will have lots of time to accumulate chips, so wait for the right spots, and only put your tournament life on the line when you expect to have the best of it.

Keep in mind that every time you just win the blinds uncontested, you keep adding chips to your stack. This is great! At this point of the tournament, you need to play your good hands aggressively, as you don’t want a lot of players calling your raises. The more players there are in the pot, the less equity you will have in the hand, and the more difficult it is going to be to pull off a successful bluff.

How to Play During the Middle Stages

Now that you hopefully have an above average stack, it’s time to really figure out who you can really target at the table. By this stage of the tournament, you should be able to characterize the other players. Find out whether they are playing tight, loose, or aggressive.

Of course, it is simply not enough to find out how your opponents are playing. Another thing you need to consider is whether you are mixing up your game enough. Remember that the other players are going to be trying to figure you out as well. Don’t make it easy for them to play perfectly against you. If you have a lot of chips you’re in a position to be more aggressive and bluff more. Just make sure that you don’t risk too many chips, but when you adopt this strategy, slowly and surely, you will see the smaller stacks dwindle out of the tournament.

If and when you’re getting low in chips, then your only move is to fold or push all in, hoping you win the blinds or double up through an opponent. This way you may steal some blinds and maybe even get back in the game or at least make it in the money (ITM).

Approaching the Late Stages (Pre-Bubble)

When you’re approaching the money bubble, this is when a lot of players will become extremely tight and will wait until they have a big hand before they will risk being eliminated. Players tighten up to try and reach the money and not bust out with nothing to show for it. At this point of the tournament, you can steal a lot of player’s blinds. But you have to pick the right spots and the right opponents. Once you are ITM, most players tend to loosen up considerably, so you need to return to being tight.

So that concludes the strategy for playing in texas hold’em tournaments. Good luck on the felt!