Poker Tournament Tips for All Levels of Players

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Tournament poker is one of the most popular formats of the game because we can view it on television. Watching tournament poker on TV has spawned players’ interest, which is why there are more unknown players each year.

While there is a difference between tournament and cash poker, this article will focus on tournament poker. Players of all levels get involved in tournament poker: newcomers, those who possess intermediate skills, and advanced to pro players.  

Tournament Poker Tips for New Players

Going to your first tournament can be nerve-wracking as much as it is exciting. Here are a few tips that will make your first couple of games easier: 

  • Blinds – Don’t wait around for the premium hands; tournaments move forward at a fast pace. Have the goal of stealing the blinds, especially when it’s folded to you later.    
     
  • Strength of your hand – While a flush is a super hand, if you have the 3C and the community cards are JC, 7C, 2C, and QC (jack of clubs, seven of clubs, two of clubs, and queen of clubs), you lose. Always think about the power of your position and the number of players that come after you. If the strength of your hand doesn’t increase, you could lose the round.       
     
  • Final tips – Pay close attention to the information you can gain when a hand gets to a showdown. Many times, this is when an opponent will expose a losing hand. Don’t play it safe; play aggressively. This act of confidence intimidates your opponents. Play your best, trying to get all the chips you can. As time goes on, playing your best will improve the quality of your game.  

When one plays modern tournament poker, they need to remember a tournament has a fixed beginning and end. The blind levels in a tournament get higher at 15 to 25-minute increments, and the goal is to keep some chips at all costs or risk being eliminated. Learn to play deep-stack poker. Deep stacks is a pro player favorite because it allows them to maximize their’ edge.’ love deep-stacked poker. 

In cash poker, whenever a certain number of players get eliminated from the game, the remaining players get to share the prize pool. Tournament poker ends when there is only one player left. That remaining player is the winner and gets most of the prize pool. If you are that only player left, you are “in the money.” It’s all about the money; you can win bigger in tournament poker. 

Great Tips for “Crushing” It 

  • Go easy at the beginning – You must know the cost to play each hand (that means blinds plus antes) and your stack of chips. Don’t use tactics that are best left for later in the game, such as going all-in to massive pots, playing the short stack, and stealing a lot of blinds. Building up a big chip-stack is the best way to survive in the initial stages of tournament poker.    
     
  • Watch the stack sizes of your opponents – Don’t bluff against any player that has a larger stack size than you. Know that any other short-stacked players will play aggressively against you. If you’re in the latter stages of the tournament, any player who has a chip stack about the same size as you won’t even play unless they’re protecting their blinds or have a great hand. Raising small and often works well against weaker players.   
     
  • Steal and protect the blinds – Picking up blinds without seeing the flop is a vital strategy when the blinds get to about the same level as your chip stack. If you have a good stack, consider three-betting when the dealer raises. However, if your M-ratio is under ten and you have an excellent hand, be aggressive and go all in. Best rule-of-thumb: open small and often. Steal a lot but don’t overdo it and defend against the “big blind.” If you’re in deep stacks, three-bet like you are playing a cash game.   
     
  • Take advantage of the “bubble” – When you get closer to this part of the game, your opponents will tighten up because no one wants to leave the table a loser. If you are smart, you will start picking up the blinds by giving close attention to the other players’ stacks. You can do this by taking down the pots because now the other players are fearful of losing the hand. However, if you face aggressive plays by your opponents, be careful about laying down any cards.       
     
  • Use push/fold – This is the all-or-nothing pre-flop you can use if your chip stack is getting so low that you can only play another ten hands. 
     
  • Dominate the table – If you are leading, be aggressive; bully both the short and medium-stacked players, especially if you are near the bubble. Develop the right mindset for the game. If the others see you have a lot of chips, short-stacked players will become fearful, and medium-stacked players will hesitate to get involved with you. This is especially important when there are only two remaining players.   
     
  • Don’t forget about good graces – Instead of making a bet so the dealer must fold, it’s better to eliminate only 1 of the short-stacked players. You don’t want the other players to hate you because you didn’t check all the way “down to the river.” Do not continuation-bet every hand.    
     
  • Don’t get too comfortable – You’ve been winning, and it is down to you and one other player. Now is the time for careful consideration instead of becoming complacent. You may be winning, but don’t get too smug or secure. You’re down to the heads-up; now is the time to stay alert and play like your life—and your chip stack—depends on it.  You need a lot of skill at this point. Use that skill if you have it or learn that skill from a training site if you don’t. In tournament poker, it’s essential to learn how to play heads-up. 

Some Final Tournament Poker Tips

Many poker players read strategy books to help their game. The best tips come from professional players who’ve won tournament poker games for years.  

  • Set your alarm clock. Get enough sleep the night before a tournament. Adequate sleep will give you the edge you need.   
     
  • If you’re bothered because the tournament will end late at night or in the wee hours of the next morning, leave whenever you want. Take the hit, and don’t throw a fit.       
     
  • Hungry? Good! Being hungry increases alertness, cognitive function, and memory. You’ll play better if you are hungry.   
     
  • Don’t look at your cards when it is your turn or when it’s too early in the hand. The other players are watching you. Don’t pressure yourself and give yourself time to think. Be careful not to make any of the common mistakes in poker.   
     
  • Put on the pressure. Don’t save money by placing small bets. Make it tough on the other players by betting big.       
     
  • Always bring snacks. Everyone appreciates snacks; they are delicious and disarming. Snack foods are a player’s secret weapon. 

Conclusion

Poker tournaments are fun. The entry fee is low, and the prizes are often substantial. If you like winning the big pot, tournament poker is the game for you. Tournament poker is an inexpensive and good way for new players to learn the game, and it gives seasoned poker players a way to gain even more experience. Large winnings are in store for the last player at the table in tournament poker. With the right mindset, learning tools, and game plan, anyone can enjoy playing tournament poker like a pro.