At the start of a poker tournament is a good idea to get out of your comfort zone and make bets you are comfortable with. This helps to keep the game in momentum and turns an average poker tournament into a good tested poker tournament, you could even head into the poker tournament with a positive cash position if you have done your pre-planning.
If you start off with a bankroll of 100 big blinds, you should start off by playing tight. At this stage in the game all the other players will be doing 80-100 blinds so you need to make sure you are playing quality hands only and folding the absolute garbage.
The next stage in the game should be to loosen up a little bit and play more and more aggressive. If you have been playing very tight and you want to win a good number of chips then you should loosen up and play more hands, but you need to make sure you are playing good quality hands.
Now if you are in the late position and everyone is limping in then you should loosen up even more and play hands that would be normal to play in early position. Playing quality hands and being flexible in your starting hand selection is a great way to win chips in tournaments. You have to remember that just like casino poker, online tournament poker is totally a hit and miss game. You can win some, you can lose some. But in the long run you are looking at a meaty percentage of chips – why wouldn’t you want that when you are playing a game that is built around hitting your set and a million other things. Play your edges and you will be a winner.
As the selective eye of a skilled player noticed, I had been playing a lot of Eric Friberg tournaments. There was a pattern among the MPO500 he was playing that a good percentage of the players he was seeing had some type of edge over him. His opponent in a tournament is like a marksman shooting at a moving target. The good player sees the target, calculates the odds, calculates the angle to get the target, shoots the target, and hopefully gets a point on the moving target and wins some chips. I have been phases like this many many times, the low chip game, the long grind, the patiently waiting for a good hand, the hitting the LAG and getting greedy against a shorthanded opponent, etc.
There are different techniques for different situations and most successful techniques are based on a good understanding of the math involved in the game. One of the most basic, and most commonly known fact – is the 47.37% of starting hands you’ll win versus the 42.7% of starting hands you’ll lose. For example, you’re sitting in middle position with a medium pocket pair, it’s folded around, so you make a half-pot bet of 3 dollars. The button raises in the big blind to 8 dollars, the small blind calls, and the big blind re-raises to 16 dollars. At this stage in the hand the pot is about 1.7 times the initial raiser’s bet. The small blind folds, the button calls, and the big blind calls.
The flop comes 3 J 9 rainbow. The big blind checks, the small blind bets 1 dollar, the button raises to 2 dollars, all other players fold. The turn is a 6 and the river an 8. The small blind checks, the button bets 2 dollars more, all other players fold. There is now a 21.7% chance the button will win the hand. The pot is now 9.3 times the initial pot size.
The nuts is if you have the better hand, you should bet the pot. Obviously, this does not always work, so we have a new technique. What we do is look at the pot size against the stack sizes of the opponents. If the pot is bigger than our opponents’ stacks, we should call. If it is smaller than his stack, we should fold. This technique is the key to profits in tournaments. Don’t call all the time, but when you’re sure you have the best hand, bet the pot.
This technique might seem basic, but it is the essence of successful no limit tournament play. Low risk play is the way to play. This is especially important in tournaments with firstime through third place payouts.