Tournament Wisdom

By Mark Rossi
The Poker Strategist


The other day we discussed some more Seat position advantages in case you missed it click here.

   Thanks to the recent media explosion taking place around no-limit tournament poker, learning how to play in tournaments is becoming more and more advantageous for every poker player. Tournaments are vastly different than cash games, because if you lose what's in front of you your out of the tournament. You will experience many opposing strategies as you and your opponents wrestle with this factor. If your considering entering your first tournament than now is the time to arm up!

Day 1- Early Rounds:

There are two basic styles of play in tournament poker: tight and loose. There is much room in between however, and variable speeds that you can use.

Power Tip #1:

At the early levels of a no-limit tournament, play extremely tight. Don't try to force the action, just win what the cards allow you to win being careful, essentially playing it safe. (I don't recommend playing this way in no-limit cash games though, the rules are different)

 Your main thought during the early stages should be on the value of the chips, since their value is much higher than it will be later on. See, If you advance far enough, the antes and blinds will exceed all the chips you have in front of you early on. Play the early levels, especially the first two carefully and try to avoid the all in, coin flip hands.

Power Tip #2:

Play small pots, raise a lot of pots with marginal hands, but prepare to play very cautiously if you get called. You must have a better hand to call than to raise. For example, raise but don't call, with A♥, J♣ , 7♦ , 7♥ , K♥ , J♦ .

Be disciplined and prepared to lay down marginal hands. I know of a player who has had good success in no-limit hold 'em tournaments, he laid down a K♦, J♦, to a Q♦ 10♦ 2♣  flop. He had raised the pot, bet at it on the flop, and got raised all his chips. It was early in the tournament and he passed, even though he had a draw at an open-ended straight flush.

This is something that would never happen in a cash game. I'm not sure I would have passed, but it was likely the right choice to do so, given that he expected to have even bigger advantages later. Needless to say, my opinion of his no-limit tournament play went up considerably after that hand.

Note: Remember, most players at your table, especially pro level, have a similar strategy. If you  notice you have an aggressively wild player at your table, raising and betting every pot, eventually your gonna have to take a stand, wait until the small blind structure allows you to get a quality hand, then slam him.

Tomorrow we'll look at strategies to use for the next levels.

Here is an Excellent Resource For Tournament Play- Click Here

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