Whether you are an experienced player or a beginner, the fundamentals remain the same to perform in tournaments. We’ve compiled a list of 7 tips that will get you to the final table of your next poker tournament!
A poker tournament is a long journey, strewn with pitfalls and obstacles. Your nerves are strained. You go through all the states. Doubt, overconfidence, mistrust, tilt, nervousness, despair. Whatever the conditions in which you find yourself, this should not influence your decision-making.
At the start of the tournament, the stacks are very deep. Many players allow themselves to play hypothetical hands in order to cause accidents. Do not join the fight unarmed, or at least take into account that you are venturing on a mined path. Be patient with your pain. The gamblers will soon be gone. You may be at an unplayable table. You will need to bring a bulletproof vest. Be patient. This is one of the qualities of excellent poker players. Your turn will come… or not.
What is the position? It depends on your relative position with the dealer button. The player in position is the one closest from the right of the dealer button. He will speak last.
The players speaking before you will give you information before you make your decision. For example, they could check, showing a potential sign of weakness. If they bet, you can take it as a sign of strength.
The amount of the bet can also give you additional information, as well as the time they will take to play. For example, it is very rare for a player to check a flopped set very quickly. Also, by playing after everyone else, you will be able to control the size of the pot. You will have the opportunity to snatch small pots that no one is fighting over.
It is of course not always so obvious, but it is better to be the one who collects the information before betting, than to be the one who provides information. Playing in position gives you an undeniable advantage.
- Stack management
We evaluate the depth of his stack in big blinds. If the blinds are 100-200 and you have a stack of 20,000, you have a depth of 100BB. You can also use the “M” method, taking into account the antes and the number of players at the table, but we will come back to this later in a future article. Long story short, there are three different mat depths and the depth will influence your decision making. You’ll play a hand differently if you have a comfortable 150BB stack, or if you have 8BB left. Logical, right?
Above 40 BB you have a deep stack. Between 15 and 40 BB, you have a mid-stack, a medium stack. And below 15 BB, you are short-stacked, you have a small stack. You can afford subtleties with a deepstack, cause accidents, have fun with connectors. Between 15 and 40 BB is another matter. Mats can be called upon to fly in the middle. Your stack depth is conducive to resteal. Being short-stacked, you have little choice but to push-or-fold. Namely either everything in the middle or nothing.
- Gear shift
As a tournament poker player, you have to be like a bull at a rodeo. Your objective will be to bring down the cowboys.
How? By surprising them. If you always move at the same speed, as soon as the cowboy understands your little trick, you will no longer catch him and he will take over. In poker, it’s the same. There will be times during the game where you will be stealthy, and others where you will act like a maniac.
There will be phases that will be conducive to aggression. At other times, you will have to step back and let your opponents get on their nerves. The game is moving very quickly. Sometimes from one hand to another you will have to change gears and jump at your opponent’s throat. The speed of execution can also have an influence.
A very strong player in this little game is Phil Laak who cultivates an exuberant image, we always have the impression that he is at carnival, he is always joking. In fact, it is a snake that earns your trust and will deal the killing blow when the time comes.
Do not hesitate to do everything to make your opponents lose their heads. Especially if the player in front of you is inexperienced, this is the ideal target. If all goes well, his tokens will come back to you sooner or later.
- Adaptation to the table
You will find yourself at the table with different styles of players. The tight old man who defends all his blinds, my
is who outside only plays his premiums. The young person who plays online who is very technical, very agro, but who has trouble changing gears. The 50-year-old lady who accompanies her husband and plays for fun. The player who has the hood, the glasses, who doesn’t speak, but who doesn’t understand much. There will also be the pro, the one who makes no mistakes, the one who will be able to extract the maximum value from each of his hands. Your mission will be to adapt to the table.
In general, we will try to play upside down. Namely, if you are at a rather passive table, you can take advantage of it by being active at the table. If the table is made up of maniacs, maybe it’s best to tighten up your game and not get sucked into big, multi-player pots. It can also be complicated to find yourself just to the right of a player who 3bets you half the time.
You will have to find the parry for each of your opponents. Or you will have to arm yourself with patience and wait for your table to break.
How to summarize the timing? Simply the right spot at the right time. Anyone can win a tournament by receiving the right cards at the right time. However, when the cards are not there, you must be able to offer something else to move up the stack. You will also be led to make decisions that involve your stack. When you have to go… you have to go.
Know how to spot these spots. Those who cannot refuse themselves. You will need to adapt your strategy depending on the phase of the tournament. The secret to winning is to adopt an appropriate strategy in each phase. There are three main phases: the early game, the mid game and the late game. Basically, the beginning, the middle and the end.
At the start of the tournament, you will have to choose between two styles. Either a very conservative style playing only the top 5% of hands, or an aggressive style with the goal of quickly doubling down. It’s caricatured, but it’s a bit like that. Each style has its advantages and disadvantages.
By playing like a lock, you are almost guaranteed to still be alive in the middle phase, however it is unlikely that you have built up a comfortable stack. And this is where the shoe pinches. If you do not build a stack, you will quickly be led to play your survival on a hit, but it will be difficult for you to play one of the places that really pays off. Observe the payout structure and you will understand that the big money is only in the very first places.
The intermediate phase is a bit of a do or die. The little ones will become very small and are doomed to disappear sooner or later, while the big ones will become huge. This is arguably the most technical part of the tournament. There will be confusion.
It is also at this stage that you can use your stack as a means of pressure against players who are afraid to commit their chips and who have the sole ambition of just getting into the paid places. If you don’t want to get caught up in the structure and have to play your survival all at once, do everything you can to take advantage of this phase to build a comfortable stack that will take you to the final table.
Finally, later in the tournament, the structure will have caught up with you and you won’t be able to really build your shots anymore. Almost every time, you can potentially end up all-in. Aggression seems to be a suitable strategy for this phase.
- Management of key moments
There are many key moments in a tournament. One of the most important is the cash bubble, another will be the final table bubble. You will approach this phase in radically different ways depending on the depth of your stack.
With a big stack, your goal will be to make your stack even bigger. You will be able to maintain strong pressure on medium stacks. You can be aggressive to the extreme by raising almost 100% of your hands. It also has the advantage of being funny. However, it will be necessary to avoid seeing yourself as more beautiful and paying too lightly. In addition, the longer the bubble lasts, the more your carpet can grow if you use it well.
With a medium stack, it becomes more difficult. A winning move will propel you deepstack. Conversely, losing a move at this time is equivalent to finding yourself shortstacked. Yuck, poo!
Stay alert. Choose your starting hands well. Shortstack, your goal will be to pass this bubble, then double up and get some air. With 15 BBs you can still scare the big stacks away. So if you play a shot, play it hard. With less, it will become complicated.