• June 18, 2021

How To Play Poker Tournaments

Dropping by a casino with a few Andrew Jacksons or going to a friend’s place for a friendly game allows you to relax and have some fun for as long as you feel like. If you decide to play in a poker tournament, however, the game changes significantly. It’s no longer a sprint to collect a big pot like many cash games, but rather a grueling marathon that challenges your decision-making ability at each step. What are some tips to help come out in the money?
Early On, Only Play Good Hands
In the beginning of the tournament, your ratio of chips to blinds will likely be at the lowest point throughout the tournament with the exception of the hands prior to you being knocked out (unless you have brilliant luck and steamroll the entire tournament). At the early stage of a tournament, gambling is just as much about the stack of the chips as it is about the cards itself: you constantly put yourself at risk by going up against players with similar sized stacks, because a single error can wipe out all your chips. Keep yourself in a low-risk situation by playing strong hands that give you the best chance to win; try to minimize bluffing with bad hands, because aggressive players can get knocked out early by making poor reads and calls.
During The Middle, Control The Blinds
Your position at a poker table can be no less important than the cards you receive. Those on the far end will be able to control relatively weak buy-ins as a game progresses by raising to a large amount (say, quadruple the blinds), which usually knocks out all but one or two of the other players. During the middle of the tournament, try to bet strong when in good position (nearest to the blinds) in order to take the pot without ever seeing any more cards. It’s ingrained in poker players’ psyche to win it all on the last card, but the reality is that you control the game better during the initial round of betting, since nobody can take advantage of anything but the two cards in their hands. Just stealing the big and small blinds sets you up for as many as ten new hands where you can better dictate your betting with a stronger hand.
At The End, Be The Bully
There’s no friends at the poker table, where everyone is competing for just one thing. That’s especially true in a tournament, where the rich usually get richer at the expense of those without many chips to their name. If you have the good fortune to amass a large amount of chips, aggressively and ruthlessly bet in order to weed out the weaker hands and drain your opponents. If you’ve got less chips than you’d prefer and can’t establish control of picking up blinds, use your small stack aggressively to force the decision on relatively poor community cards, so that the odds of being called are less likely on an unimpressive flop, turn, and river.

Steve Carr

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