Winning Poker Tournaments: Strategy Basics

Poker tournaments are probably the favorite choice of all the beginner players as well as many pros. There are many reasons for this but the two main ones are these ones:

  1. Tournaments can offer a big boost to your bankroll
  2. Tournaments can give you a lot of playing time for a comparatively low investment

Due to the mix of amateurs and pros, online poker tournaments represent a great opportunity and a highly competitive environment at the same time. We’re bringing you a short breakdown of the fundamental winning strategy as well as links to more resources to help you on your journey.


Playing for the Win

One of the principal things to understand about tournament strategy is that you should never be playing to make it into the money. Every tournament you sit down to play, you should play for the win as much as you can. To keep a healthy poker bankroll and have a sustainable ROI (Return On Investment), you’ll need to be in the top three finishers. Small cashes will come along naturally but they should never be your goal or concern.


Adjusting for Different Stages

Tournaments are different from cash games because blinds change constantly. The stack you start with has a significantly different value on the first level than on, say, fifth level. This constant progression requires you to keep adjusting your strategy and your hand ranges to keep up.

This is a fairly extensive and very important concept when playing in poker tournaments, so you should definitely check it out. Many players, especially beginners, fail to realize how the value of their stack changes as the blinds progress and often continue to play way too tight, diminishing their chances of success.

Final Table Play

The final table of a tournament is where you want to be as often as possible. This is where you’ll get to realize your equity and boost your bankroll. A good way to look at the final table is as if it were a whole new tournament of its own.

Everything that happened up to that point doesn’t matter (save for reads on the players, if you have any). Now, you’re playing a tournament with eight or nine other players, and with every new elimination, your prize will go up.

When you’re ready for that next step, you’ll want to look into more elaborate concepts such as ICM (Independent Chip Model) but, for the time being, keep in mind that your goal should always be winning the whole thing. Thus, your entire strategy needs to be tailored around achieving this goal! Good luck!




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