Monthly Focus October 2013 - Win Money Playing Poker
''Winning a poker tournament is a great thrill - learn to use the power of correct poker tournament strategies to claim your place at the final table''
Tournament Strategy Resources
SitAndGoPlanet.com offer a valuable poker tournament strategy website, with dozens of useful articles covering all many aspects of tournament play.
PokerListings has a superb easy to follow Poker Tournament Strategy section which holds valuable info from beginner to advanced level tournament play.
The Poker-Strategy.org tournament strategy section holds articles on Multi-table, Single table, Freeroll, and Rebuy tournament strategies.
Tight Poker's tournament pages contain numerous guides on how to improve your poker tournament strategies, including no limit, limit, and many others.
Sixhanded.com offer comprehensive strategy articles covering every aspect of 6 seat Sit N Go Tournaments, offering ''the complete system for crushing the 6 seat Sit N Go's''
TournamentIndicatorForum is a highly regarded tournament forum with posts covering a number of strategy elements.
3. Short and Big Stacked
Short stacked with pocket aces is easy, All-In no matter what position you are in. Playing aces in the big is different. Since you have some chips anyway, you should be playing a looser game, and betting a little bigger than normal already (depending on the stage in the tournament) so you should play aggressively and hopefully someone has a calling hand. On the flop you should keep betting at least half of the pot to make it look like you are just making a continuation bet, thus you get paid off. You can play those aces any number of ways with a big stack but it all depends on your opponents and their tendencies. If they are playing tight, you may way to slow play and vice versa.
Whenever playing in tournaments make sure to keep a good one your opponents to catch a tell and to see what style of play they are in. This will help you gauge the strength of their hand and hopefully, with a little luck, you can take their chips!
Have you ever been short stacked in a poker tournament <http://www.europoker.com/en/tournaments> when you’re right on the bubble? Before you answer that, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page. The bubble is what is referred to as right out of the money. For example, if the top three places pay and you’re in fourth with four players remaining, you’re on the bubble. It’s the last place you want to finish in a tournament yet someone always has to finish there.
When you learn poker <http://www.europoker.com/en/pokerschool>, one of the first things you should figure out is how to play the bubble. The first poker game you’re going to play is often going to be a tournament, not a cash game. Anyone that jumps straight into a cash game is asking for trouble. With a tournament, your risk is often small with a large reward. You can also develop a poker strategy <http://www.europoker.com/en/pokerstrategy> when you play in tournaments.
Let’s get back to playing the bubble. There are two ways to go about this, and it will depend on your goal. If you’re looking to just come in the money, as in 3rd place would make you happy, you can often fold your way in. At this point in the tournament, players will be folding and going all-in a lot. You can often wait for someone else to bust. Once you’re in the money, you can attack.
On the other hand, if you want to come in first place, you need to attack the large blinds. When you’re in this situation, you must remember that any two cards can win. This attitude will allow you to be more aggressive, which will most likely earn you more chips. You must keep in mind that the three other players are going to be cautious unless they have a monster. That being the case, the key is to play position. If they’re aggressive early, get out of the way. If they’re timid early and you’re in late position, attack. Not only will this approach most likely earn you more chips and put you in the running for first place, but it will improve your table image, which will be enormously beneficial for future games.
In conclusion, when you’re on the bubble and you want first, attack. All-in should be common. Keep in mind that other players will respect your moves because of your bubble position in the tournament.
Strategy for an MTT vs. a SNG
While a SNG is essentially a final table with even starting chips, an MTT is very different. Fundamentally, there are many differences in the strategy you will employ for the start of an MTT. For example, the blind structures are often more player friendly in an MTT than a SNG (which is designed for people wanting a quick poker game). With the progressive/slower blind structure in place, you can play more of a waiting game. This allows you to play premium starting hands, which is very important in the early stages of these types of events. For a list of premium starting hands, please see our Texas Hold'em Action Chart <http://www.pokerforfree.org/en/poker-strategies/pre-flop-strategies/pre-flop-action-chart/> to get a better idea of which cards are best to play at this point.
Another strategy that you must master to have a good run deep into these MTT's is playing on the bubble. The bubble is reached when there is only one player left to be eliminated before the payouts begin. For example, if there are 150 players left and the tournament pays out to position number 149 then you've reached the bubble. If your chip stack is large enough, it's very wise here to push around the smaller stacks. These players are desperate to cash in at this point and are normally waiting for another small(er) stack to get busted out so that they will at least get something in return for having played poker for the last number of hours.
Easy moves at this point in the tournament are hands such as Ace/X in late position. If you have small stacks to your left and the action is folded to you holding such a hand, you should always raise. Always, there are no exceptions to this rule unless there's a larger stack to your left or a smaller stack that's still capable of taking a large percentage of your chips, leaving you crippled. Even if you're called or re raised all-in here, you will almost always want to call with any Ace or King. Coin flips with short stacks are very common, and they are often prone to push all-in with hands like Jack-Nine, or suited connectors. Your Ace or King high here is often the best hand indeed!
Freeroll Schedule <http://www.pokerforfree.org/en/poker-tournaments/poker-freeroll-schedule/>
How to find the best MTT's
Some of the larger MTT's include the Sunday Million at PokerStars <http://www.pokerforfree.org/en/online-poker-reviews/pokerstars/>, which often has more than 4,000 entries! First place sometimes pays out close to $500,000 US. Full Tilt Poker <http://www.pokerforfree.org/en/online-poker-reviews/full-tilt-poker/> also hosts several large Sunday tournaments like the Sunday Brawl, with a 100K guarantee. They follow that up with the 750K Guarantee and The Sunday Mulligan, for players that are knocked out the 750K Guarantee. The Sunday Mulligan has a 150K guaranteed prize pool. Many other sites host large tournaments such as these every day of the week please see our tournament list <http://www.pokerforfree.org/en/poker-tournaments/multi-table-tournaments/> for more information.
Winning a poker tournament requires more than just luck, this is where your poker skills will be put to the test and to help you become the best poker player you can be, we’ve listed here the top ten poker tournament tips :
Set a worthwhile goal
When playing in a poker tournament, make sure you have a goal in mind. While we would all love to make winning our goal, this is not realistic. Just cashing is not the best goal in the world either. If you just cash, often you will be playing at a loss. Set a goal that involves making the final table. That is where the real money is.
Have a Plan
Don’t just go in and react to what is going on around you. Have a plan, and try to stick to it. While every plan changes a bit upon contact with the enemy, try to stay to the larger aspects of a quality tournament plan.
Play to win! Don’t play not to lose
If you play in a tournament with the goal of protecting your chip stack, you won’t last very long. Your stack is a weapon that you will use to pressure other players out of their chips.
Identify the Weak Players Early
The early rounds of a poker tournament will offer you your best opportunities to double and triple up your stack. Identify the weak players, and the extremely loose players. These will be the folks whose chips will most easily be separated from them.
Choose Your Drinks Well
Tournaments are marathons, not sprints. This means you will need to keep a clear head for a long period of time. Avoid the alcohol offered by the cocktail waitresses, and be leery of energy drinks. Many of them may give you a jolt of energy, but also bring a debilitating crash later on.
Drive the Action
Over the past few years, we have seen a more aggressive form of poker succeed on the tournament level. Simply being the caller is not a good poker strategy. Be aggressive with your hands.
Bluffs are More Effective Early in the Tournament
Because of an escalating blind structure, bluffs are more effective in the early parts of a tournament. In the later stages the bar for playable hands has been lowered, so bluffs are less effective.
Use the Bubble
You don’t want the bubble to burst on your chances, but you can also use the bubble as unspoken pressure against other players. As the bubble nears, players will tighten up in hopes of protecting their chances. This offers prime blind stealing opportunities.
Players with short stacks will be looking for a double or triple up opportunity. In their desperation, they will avoid drawing hands, and go all-in on just about any pair; hoping to flop a set.
The All In Offensive
In the early goings of a poker tournament use the all-in bet as an offensive weapon when you have the cards. The maniacs will give you action on your bet, and you can quickly chip up.
laying online poker tournaments is an art and takes years to master the perfect strategy, but there are some strategies which are basic for every player and everybody should know before starting and one of them is the power of the blinds.
The blinds are where it all starts. All the action in the table starts with a struggle for the blinds. First, we are going to make a theoretical calculation to explain the value of the blinds when you are playing an online tournament. Let’s assume the blinds are 0, this is no blinds, then it will be stupid to play unless you got the best hand possible (AA), why to bother with lesser hands if you can just go when you got the best one and ensure yourself the most chances to win the hand? On the other hand let’s imagine the blinds are infinite, it will mean that every player will be forced to play with the first hand they got.
From the above you can make a conclusion, the bigger the blinds are the looser your gaming must be and the smaller they are, the tighter you got to play. This is very important because some players start playing loose and tighten their play when the blinds are growing bigger just to save the chips. Actually the right strategy is just the opposite, when the tournament starts and the blinds are low you must play very tight because your M is very high and you can afford a lot of blinds without running out of chips.
As the tournament advances, blinds are growing and you must play looser. If your M is less than 10, you must start playing loose usually when you are in a stealing blinds position, stealing blinds is very important in a tournament but even more when your M is not in the ideal zone and you must keep your chips. It won’t be very good if you wait and wait until you get good pocket cards and it happens when you got very little chips because you didn’t steal any blinds.
When the tournament is very advanced and all players have an M less than 10 because blinds are so high (this usually happens when you are in the final table and there are less than 10 players on it) it is very important to be very loose to steal blinds. Going all in with cards like AJ off is ok in this situation, or any low pair, even 22. If everybody folds you are getting nice blinds and if they call, you are usually getting a 50% or a little less chances of winning the hand. The typical fear at the final table forces a lot of players to fold hands just to wait for other players to be busted and get more money, use this in your own profit and steal blinds, on the long run you will get better results unless you are playing with maniac players or calling stations of course…
One of the most overlooked aspects of winning poker is attitude.Â Being cocky can lead to great success in poker.Â Whether you are entering a poker tournament or a cash game you should sit down with the attitude that “I can, I will, and I am going to win!.”Â Optimism is crucial in anything you want to be successful at in life and especially POKER.Â Like anything else if you go into it with the wrong pesimistic ideas like “I hope I don’t do too bad, or I want to at least win my money back” you won’t do very well!Â It is also important to get plenty of rest the night before and get a good meal in you before playing serious poker.Â This will allow you to sit down at the poker table full of energy, and ready to take on all comers.
At the start of a poker tournament people tend to play very loose seeing a lot of flops with hopes of just getting lucky.Â They do this simply because the blinds are so inexpensive in the beginning of a tournament.Â They think well it’s only 50 chips to me.Â This is the absolute wrong way to start a poker tournament.Â Lets say the blinds are 25 and 50.Â If you see 10 flops with marginal hands that is a minimum of 500 chips you will have lost.Â That’s pretty substantial.Â I start every tournament as if each poker chip represents one dollar of my own real money.Â I play solid poker accumulating chips with strong holdings against their limping hands.Â This allows me to work my way up to the top of the leaderboard pretty easily.Â The whole time my chip stack is increasing while theirs is dwindling away.
Mid To Late Stages
Right about now you are sitting pretty with enough chips to just sit back and cruise your way into the money.Â Some people are fine with this, but not us!Â That’s the same type of poor metallity I discussed in the mental preperation section.Â All those loose players from earlier are now short stacked.Â The blinds have gone up with antes added on to each hand now.Â We need to start putting pressure on the short stacks.Â Start raising in late position with any 2 reasonable starting hands.Â This doesn’t mean play 9 2 or 7 3.Â You should never play hands that weak unless you are in the big blind and everyone limps to you.Â I would say poker hands like 5 6 or even 7 9 are ok to raise with now though.Â The short stacks are going to fold 80 percent of the time anyway.Â The whole time you are still accumulating chips by stealing their blinds and antes.Â You are collecting protection money for the other 20 percent of the time when they call your raise or push allin.Â If they do come over the top of you keep in mind the pot odds.Â If you bet and they raise you your hand is not that weak.Â If you are getting better than 2 to 1 odds on your money you should make the call!Â You want to play smart, but eliminate a player every chance you get.Â My final table advice varies depending on chip stacks and the types of players who I’m playing against.Â Chances are you will have at least a little knowledge of these players just from being bounced to different tables throughout the poker tournament.Â Generally I like to play mostly strong starting hands with a few opportunistic bluffs mixed in.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer to play poker online or in a brick and mortar casino.Â This strategy will make you a better tournament poker player.Â So get out there and build your bankrolls!
The options for playing in online poker tournaments are endless - and for players who can follow good poker tournament strategy there is strong potential for profit. Tournaments attract a wide range of player types, many of whom are likely (depending on the type of tournament) to be at a lower skill level.
Of course, the principles of basic poker strategy apply to both ring games and tournaments, but there are some fundamental differences in approach that you need to consider. Poker tournament strategy involves understanding these differences, and shows you a way to differentiate the styles of play you need to use to gain a good level of success. Different strategies apply for SNG Sit And Go or MTT Multitable Tournaments.
The first point to consider is that in tournaments it's all about survival. Consequently by playing tight in the early stages you run less risk of being knocked before the tournament really begins. You'll find that in many tournaments there will be players who play recklessly, hoping to build a big stack and gain their edge early on. Ultimately though at some point you will need to take risks. Winning is difficult and rare, and winners have always needed to risk their stack at multiple points in the game.
Luck plays a big part, and that's precisely why you will need to use effective poker tournament strategies throughout.
Aside from the early stages, you'll need to play with the appropriate tournament strategies for the other main stages - mid and late. Both are different again. The mid stage begins when around half the starting competitors have been eliminated. The later stages obviously start when you're into the last few tables.
Secondly, consider the type of tournament. Freerolls, rebuys, and satellites call for different approaches due to either the likely skill level of your opponents or the way they'll play at different stages.
Note also that whereas as ring games can be solitary, in tournaments the outcome of hands which you don't play is more important. There will be numerous occasions where the benefits of a certain opponent either winning a hand or getting eliminated will be useful to your chances.
Listed below are a number of tips which it's worthe following to maximise chances of a long run in any tournaments you play:
Consider the stake/buy-in
Avoid entering where the buy in level may affect your decisions. Too high a buy in and you're running risks of making the wrong decisions on critical bluffing or calling situations, too low and the chances are you'll take risks you don't need to.
In the early stages play tight
The aim is to avoid elimination, and you'll only achieve this by relying on strong starting hands and playing tight on post-flop. There's no hurry to build a big stack in the early stages. Patience here is often a virtue.
The right hands to play early on
Play A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J and A-K in early position. Be prepared to fold anything but top two pairs AA and KK if an opponent goes all in. You can raise with 10's, 9's, or 8's in mid to late position. Some other hands you could play in late position include two suited face cards and suited aces down to an eight, though playing these should only be done cheaply.
With big hands, play three times the big blind. Stick to this as a standard raise.
Wait for the mid to later stages for more aggressive play
As the tournament progresses, you will need to become increasingly aggressive while still being cautious and selective. Attention to position is critical, always be aware of where you are before raising. The middle stages can be a good point to try a few blind-stealing bluffs. In the later stages, most of the looser players will have been eliminated, you're facing rising blinds, and it's the right time for stronger winning tactics.
Watch your opponents
Watch the other players to determine how they play. Are they aggressive, semi-aggressive, middle, tight, or solid.
Be careful with bluffing
Tournaments, especially freerolls, can be filled with poor players. Never bluff in the early stages of a STT. The blinds are not worth taking the risk, and you can't allow for how the poorer players will play. Be unpredictable when bluffing. Wait until you've had a strong showdown hand before attempting to bluff.
Create a table impression
This is a valuable poker tournament strategy - if one player builds a big stack early on, there's a chance he'll gradually eliminate the lesser players. By creating the impression that you're a rock, you might avoid any temptation for big stacked opponents to take you on.
Only play when you're in a strong mental state
Tiredness is likely to cause you to make wrong playing decisions. Make sure you're well prepared and rested before play commences. Don't play when you're tired.
Bet consistently and cleverly
Consider limping in from early position with AA or KK against aggressive opponents. Bet consistently with the same amounts to disguise hands.
Mix up your playing styles
Switch play from aggressive to solid and back again.
Your position to the dealer is crucial in single table tournaments. If you are in early position, meaning that you are one of the first people to act, then you should only be getting involved when holding a premium hand, such as, big pocket pairs, A-K and A-Q. Anything else should be folded immediately as there’s no point in wasting chips by calling when there are plenty more players left to act.
If you are in late position, meaning that you are one of the last players to act, then you can afford to be a little looser. Any Ace, pair or suited connectors are worth calling, especially if most of the players have folded before it’s your turn to act.
Small suited connectors and pocket pairs are also worth a call if you can get into the pot cheaply against multiple callers. You must fold if a bet is made on a flop which you have not hit.
If none of your opponents have made a bet when you have the dealer button then you should be raising the majority of the time to find out where you are. The blinds are likely to fold their hands and even if you do get called then you still have the chance to fire out a bet if it’s checked to you again.
Protect your Big Blind
You may find that aggressive players on the table are continuously trying to steal your big blind. Play them at their own game and re-raise their steal and they won’t be so quick to try to steal them next time!
Keep an eye on how many chips your opponents have and you’ll find that you will be regularly making it into the top two or three. Also, keep an eye on your own stack, if you’ve only got two-thirds of the starting stack then it’d be wise to tighten up and wait for premium hands. Remember, you’ll need to keep paying the constantly increasing blinds regularly. If you’re down to between seven and ten times the big blind you to consider pushing all in whenever you act. The all in bet will be big enough to scare the larger stacks into folding and it’s likely you’ll end up stealing the blinds and boosting your own stack.
First Stages – Slow and Steady
Pace yourself and play conservatively. If you are playing a tournament with a deep stack and long blind levels then you can afford to see some cheap flops. However, if you are playing a faster structured game, which can sometimes be known as Turbo, then you need to play tightly during this stage to conserve your stack. This will portray a tight player table image so that when you do become aggressive in the later stages on the SnG your bets are likely to be respected.
Middle Stages – Be Cautious
So, a few players have been knocked out and you find yourself in the middle stages of the game. You will need to play according to the size of your stack. Attack players that are short-stacked by using raises, re-raises and all ins as they will need a massive hand to call you. Move all in to steal blinds when you’re running low on chips. Be cautious though, only bet hard when your cards are good enough or if you have less than ten big blinds.
The bubble is the last position before the money stages, so for a nine or ten-handed table the bubble would be fourth place, for a six-handed table it would be third place. If you’ve got the third-largest chip stack with just 4 players left in a nine or ten-handed tournament then you need to be careful and tighten up until the straggler has been eliminated. If you’ve got the smallest stack then you need to dodge pots that involve more than one other person as your opponents are likely to check to the river to increase the chance of knocking you out.
In the Money!
This is where the gambling begins. Play to accumulate chips and win. You’ll need to be aggressive and bully your opponents as much as possible. You will have been playing against these particular players for the past hour or so, so you should have a good idea about the type of player they are so you will be able to make good decisions about when to push and when to fold.
Regular poker tournament strategy is all about the size of your stack and the size of the blinds. Playing a deeper stacked event affords the player more time to be selective in the early stages of online poker tournaments <http://poker.bodog.com/tournaments/>. Starting chip stacks are generous enough that players can play a tight game, while waiting for premium hands or strong position plays with medium strength holdings.
Hands that are in the lead for value are your best bets and keep bluffs to a minimum. Avoid getting all your chips in without the absolute nuts and try to win medium-size pots that don't jeopardize your poker tournament life.
Decisions to change your level of aggression should be determined by the size of your chip stack compared to the size of the blinds. If your chip stack shrinks to an amount where the blinds are taking 10% or more of your stack, then you should start to increase your level of action to increase your chip stack by either stealing small pots or doubling up through an opponent.
If you find yourself deep into the late stages of the Bodog Poker Open IV, you will have outlasted some of the best online poker <http://poker.bodog.com/> players in the world. You would have either beaten out Bodog pros like Justin Bonomo, David Williams, and Evelyn Ng, or you'll possibly be seated at the final table with some of them.
Final table strategy dictates that you play your favorable position hands with aggression and you get out of the way when other players are battling aggressively for a pot. Any player that goes out before you pays you tens of thousand of dollars.
Evaluating Starting Hands In No-Limit Hold’em Tournaments <http://www.bangkokpokerplayer.com/poker-strategy/evaluating-starting-hands-in-no-limit-holdem-tournaments/>
October 7, 2009 by bkkpkerplayer <http://www.bangkokpokerplayer.com/author/bkkpkerplayer/>
Filed under Poker Strategy <http://www.bangkokpokerplayer.com/category/poker-strategy/>
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There are three main factors that influence how you should play your hole cards in No-Limit Hold’em Tournaments. They are: your position, the size of your chip stack, and the size of the blinds. As a basic rule you need to avoid marginal hands that appear playable pre-flop but which can lead to huge losses in a single pot. The classic starting hands that fall into this category would be any Ax lower than AQ where both cards are unsuited, any Kx unsuited lower than KQ, and low suited connectors.
The tricky aspect of no-limit hold’em both in a tournament structure and in a regular cash game is that these hands can also lead to the greatest rewards. They are extremely volatile, however, and much of the skill of no-limit is knowing how to recognize when that starting hand is a liability and when it could potentially break an opponent. This requires a great feel for the game after the flop. Naturally beginners lack this experience and nuanced understanding of the game, and so it is far safer for a novice to limit himself to playing premium cards only before the flop. The problem then becomes one of predictability – if you only raise with big pairs you are unlikely to get any action, and when you do get action you’re in trouble because the rest of the table clearly knows what you’re holding to begin with.
If you are one off the button or on the button you should loosen your restrictions and play more starting hands, including those marginal ones, provided no one else has entered the pot showing obvious strength. To vary your play effectively you should also consider raising with these hands as a semi-bluff tactic, but no more than one in four times.
Keep most of your initial raises down to between 75% and 100% of the pot. If you make it 3 times the size of the big blind to go that typically equals an 80% pot bet. This will protect you in case you get re-raised or called by stronger holdings. If there are limpers in front of you and you are going to raise then you need to make a significant bet, especially in no-limit where you have to make it punitive for other players if they intend to draw out. In that case you could raise as much as 6 times the big blind.
Have a healthy and watchful respect for strong-tight players who are rarely in hands, particularly if they play the hand out of position. If a player like this raises in early position you should fold all those marginal hands, and small pairs as well.
When weak players have entered the pot, you should be happy to call and take flops with them provided you can do this inexpensively. Slow playing big hands has a higher expected value in No-Limit than it does in Limit games where it is rarely the right way to play. That being said, it is a skill that takes a lifetime to master, and can easily backfire on you.
As the blinds increase in tournament play you must be flexible with your evaluation of starting hands as you have to keep your chip stack well ahead of the pace set by the blinds. In tournament play you cannot wait for the perfect starting hand, and frequently you need to make your own luck. Be selectively aggressive, especially in the later stages of the tournament. Initially you should be tight at least until you have a good read on some of the opponents at your table. Try to avoid coin-flip scenarios where all your chips are at stake. This happens all the time in online tournaments where players feel comfortable going all-in on AK and equally comfortable calling that hand with any pocket pair.
The winners of tournaments at all levels are usually those players who pace themselves early on, make a move in the middle stages of the event, and then start all over again at the final table by once again playing strong-tight.
This page has moved and can now be found at www.realmoney.games/online-poker-tournaments/