Basic Tournament Strategy

Tournaments are a form of Poker, which features a specific Buy-In amount and a starting stack. Unlike in Cash-Games, loosing all your chips usually means busting the tournament. However, there are exceptions to this – specific Tournament Types.

The following Tournament Types are offered:

  • Re-buy Tournaments allows players to purchase extra chips for some period of time, usually the first hour.
  • Freeze-out Tournaments only offer one chance. If you loose your chips, you’re done with the Tournament.

While Tournaments feature the same Poker Rules as Cash-Games, optimal strategy differs significantly. If you would follow Cash-Games Strategy while playing a Tournament, you’d bust out quickly.

Changing Gears

Another significant difference in Tournaments – Blind Increases. A single Poker Tournament is divided into Blind Levels, which are constantly increasing after a certain time has passed. This requires constant adjustments in Strategy. Poker Tournament could be divided into three stages – Early, Mid and Late.

Early Stages occur, when Tournament has just been started and blinds are some. One thing you should follow is your stack size in terms of Big Blinds, as it changes optimal Strategy in a particular hand a lot. You should play tight in Early Stages. The most important thing to do – watch your table and try to gain reads. Blinds are small, so you won’t benefit much by stealing them. Instead you might get into a big pot with weak holdings and who would want that to happen?

Mid Stages will already feature significant blinds, when it comes to stack/blinds ratio. This is where you should get all those reads from the Early Stages together and put them to good use! Attack weak players by constantly putting them under pressure – steal their blinds. However, don’t go too crazy as good players will start to take advantage of you.

Late Stages are the final rounds of a Tournament. It’s likely that you’re in the money already and now it’s the question of how much will you make! Don’t be scared and use a similar approach to the Mid Stage one – be aggressive and take advantage of those who are scared.

The Bubble

The Bubble is a term that refers to a Tournament Stage, when making the money is only a question of couple more people busting. Most people approach the play during this stage completely wrong – they are being careful and feared to play a hand. Well, it’s actually good that there are people like this, as you’ll take advantage of them! When it’s The Bubble Stage, become really, really aggressive. Raise every time you get a chance to open the pot and you’re in the late position. You’ll be surprised how often people will just fold!