Tips to win poker tournaments. 11 simple ways you can improve your poker game.

Tips to win poker tournaments. 11 simple ways you can improve your poker game.

1 – Prepare for the tournament. Big field tournaments can take around 3-6 hours, or even longer depending on the size of the field. Make sure you’ve got the time to see it through until the end, otherwise you’re just wasting time and money. It also goes without saying that you have to play according to your other obligaitons. The last thing you want to do is go to work with 3 hours sleep, after staying up all night playing a tournament. Make sure you’ve got plenty to drink, perhaps a few snacks, and make sure your significant other is okay with you spending that long playing.

The last thing you need is a nagging partner distracting you from the game. And no, the 5 minute breaks are NOT enough time to take care of …marital duties.

2 – tighten up early. In a lot of lower level tournaments, especially micro-buyins and freerolls, you’ll notice that that in the early stages, players tend to go crazy, hoping for a quick double up.

It’s easy to get caught up in the action yourself, hoping to win a big stack. The best line of play is to actually tighten up, and wait for a premium hand. Let the other players take ridiculous risks, and wait for the right spot to capitalize on their mistakes. In the early stages of a tournament, the chips you win or lose are worth a lot loss than the chips you win or lose in the later levels, thus it’s not worth risking your stack in marginal spots, unless your confident you’ve got the best hand.

3 – Abuse the bubble. Once a tournament is close to the first payout, players tend to tighten up dramatically, hoping to coast into an easy cash.

Use this opportunity to exploit people you feel are doing this, and steal their blinds relentlessly. Everyone knows that the majority of a big MTTS prize pool is awarded to the final table, so it’s worth bubbling the odd time and losing a min-cash, in order to build a massive stack that can take you deeper into the tournament. It’s worth noting that once the bubble breaks, players tend to become hyper aggressive again, hoping to pad their stacks that were depleted from folding into the money. When this happens, you want to again change gears and move back into a tight but aggressive style.

4 – Adapt to table dynamics (ie: tight or loose table) Just like the tournament itself has different stages, so do the tables themselves. As players join and leave your table, you’ll notice the dynamic of the entire table changes. What may have once been a relatively aggressive table, might suddenly become really tight as players come and go. It’s important to pay attention to the dynamics as they change, and adjust accordingly.

5 – Analyze your table every time you move. This continues from #4. Every time you are moved to another table, you’ll find that the table dynamics may be drastically different than the last table you were at. It pays to tighten up a bit when you switch tables, until you get a feel for how the new table plays.

6 – Learn ICM. ICM is especially useful in smaller field tournaments, where pay spots jump dramatically.

Chips lost become worth a lot more than chips gained, so ICM because useful, as you can easily identify spots where the risk is worth the gain chip/pay wise. Believe it or not, based on ICM there ARE times where even folding pocket aces can be the right play, depending on your stack size and how close to a pay-jump you are and stack sizes of the other players left. Use M-zone image

7 – Familiarize yourself with M-zone factors. M-zone is a critical aspect of tournament play that a lot of players seem to ignore.

By learning what M-zone is, you can easily change your strategy dynamically, as your relative stack size changes according to the blind and ante increases. It can also be useful, as you can anticipate how other players may play according to their stack size. It’s surprising just how often you’ll see players limp into pots when they’re short-stacked, instead of either folding or shoving. This is a massive leak and a key sign that you’re up against weak players.

8 – Watch other tables if/when you reach the final 2-3 tables. It can allow you to figure out who you could potentially be up against, and their playing styles.

If you get moved, or a player is moved to your table, you’ll have an advantage as you’ll already have an idea of how to adapt to their style.

9 – Learn to change gears. Tournaments have “stages”, where the dynamics tend to change depending on relative stack sizes compared to the blinds. As relative stack sizes change from 100bb, down to 10-20BB, players will often change to playing shove/fold poker. It’s important to watch for the different stages, and change your play accordingly.

Use Example 1 video 9 – Pay attention to the other peoples stack sizes. This should be something you do anyways, but as play progresses, you may find yourself in spots where you have a much deeper stack than everyone else at your table. You need to pay close attention when you play a hand, as you have to take into consideration what other players will be doing based on their stack sizes.

It’s safe to assume that if someone after you only has 10BB left, they wll be playing for their entire stack if they decide to enter the hand with you. Based on this, it’s important to adjust your ranges accordingly based on what you anticipate they will be doing.

10 – Take notes. On EVERYONE. During the duration of a tournament, everyone gets moved around several times as tables break.

It pays to take notes on EVERYONE you play against, because you may end up at another table with them at some point.