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Top 10 tips for winning poker tournaments

8 May 2017

10. Be prepared for the event ahead of time
Negative EV (expected value) is inevitable if you start a tournament unprepared. It is extremely important to stay fit, exercise constantly and eat as healthy as possible. This is true for both live and online tournaments.

Many players miss this step and encounter fatigue, which is very common when playing long hours. Moreover, staying mentally strong is a must, and that starts with proper sleep.

Maybe you will not feel a big difference in the beginning of the tournament. However, later on, after playing eight hours or more, most of your competition will be tired, sleepy and unable to make calculated decisions. This is where your preparation pays off huge, and with some luck, you will be stacking their chips in no time!

9. Always be on time
It is common in the poker community to see some pros show up late to every tournament. As far as I'm concerned, this can cause negative EV and, no matter who you are, you should still arrive on time.

The math is simple. Many inexperienced players with wide ranges bust out of tournaments very early. If you are missing this stage and are not getting hands dealt while they still have chips and keep overplaying their weak hands, you are missing opportunities to grow your chip stack.

Additionally, if you happen to be playing in a rebuy tournament, not only will weak players be playing too wide, but good players will be as well. They will widen their range in the early rounds of a multi table tournament with rebuys to inflate the prize pool and to build a huge stack. All of this creates a great opportunity to pick up some extra chips, so take advantage of it!

Tadas Peckaitis is a professional poker player, author and poker coach.

Tadas Peckaitis is a professional poker player, author and poker coach.

8. Narrow your range at the beginning
Playing a tight range for too long can be a bad strategy. Having said that, you should start the tournament carefully selecting the hands you play. As we discussed above, many players will be overplaying their hands in the early stages, so holding the upper part of the range will help you take their money.

Most importantly, at the beginning, you should concentrate on figuring out how your opponents play. So, during the first few orbits just play your good hands and absorb all the information that is available to you. See who is loose and plays many hands, who is tight or passive, and use all this information later on when making decisions.

7. Steal the dead money when antes kick in
This is what separates winning players from the rest of the field. They know when to fire up their aggression, and they start doing it when antes appear in the game.

This is when you should start stealing blinds and opening with a much wider range as often as possible, in particular against weak, tight and passive players, which you already identified by observing your competition.

The math is simple. An average player is defending way less than he should from the big blind, hence, stealing pots is all the more profitable. Moreover, when a weak player in the big blind calls your raise, you will have position and initiative in the hand. Therefore, you can dictate all the action and take down many pots by simply continuation betting.

For these reasons alone, stealing pots in the later stages of the tournament becomes extremely profitable, and you should do it without hesitation.

6. Target the weak players
This is a simple concept. Stay away from the players that are good, and hunt down the players that are bad. Poker tournament strategy relies heavily on the ability to be disciplined when it comes to hand selection. That does not mean that you play only certain hands from certain positions. Rather, it means that you play certain hands based on certain situations.

In tournament poker, a major variable in any decision is the ability of your opponent. If you feel a player is strong, play straight up against him. Narrow your range, bet when you have it and fold when you don’t. Do not try to implement advanced tactics to outplay him. This is not where the money comes from in tournaments.

However, if you feel a player is weak, go after him and play more hands. Most of the time, his range is going to be too wide, and you will easily see when he makes the hand. Moreover, they tend to overplay one pair hands and their draws, giving you many possibilities to build a stack, so do it!

5. Turn up the pressure on the short stacks at 'bubble' time
The bubble of a poker tournament occurs just before the money line. When you are at the bubble of a tournament, you should be basing your bets almost entirely on stack sizes.

If you are a short stack, 13 big blinds or less, then you should be in survival mode and either pushing your stack with a good hand, or folding. If you have 14 big blinds or more, you should be looking to three-bet shove if someone is opening too loose.

However, if you have a bigger stack, you can and should put pressure on other players. Try to identify those who are looking to make the money and steal from them. Players are not willing to risk busting out just before the money, so it gives you a prime opportunity to take advantage of their strategies and build your stack.

4. Master short stack play
Short stack play is summed up by having fewer than 30 big blinds. It requires an entirely different strategy, and this alone will determine if you end up being a winner or just bleeding your chips.

Mastering short stack play is a crucial step in poker tournament strategy. While in cash games, most of the time, you will be playing around 100 big blinds deep, it is not the case in tournaments. Therefore, you should study your game and learn how to change your ranges when you are deep, have around 50 big blinds or have a short stack.

It is impossible to cover everything in one article, but if you want to learn how to play in the most effective way, check out my MTT preflop master course. You will learn how to build your strategy for every stack depth, and most importantly, how to adjust it versus different players.

Inside the featured table arena at WSOP 2016.

Inside the featured table arena at WSOP 2016.

3. Re-shove against loose open raises
This is one of the best ways to accumulate chips in later stages of the tournament. When you have between 14 and 25 big blinds and someone with a stack of similar to slightly larger size open raises ahead of you, it usually makes sense to shove your stack with a slightly wider range.

Obviously, you should not be doing this with random hands, which are very weak. You should be playing some of your strong hands this way, and you can easily add in some strategic bluffs. Hands like suited ace highs, suited connectors and small pocket pairs have good equity when called and make for the best bluffs.

Most of your opponents will not call your all-in very light and you will take down a huge pot at once. This will help you build the stack for taking down the tournament.

2. Play single table sit-and-go tournaments to train for final table play
I am not going to go into a lot of detail here, because final table play is so advanced that just the math alone would take an entire book to cover. I do want to get you started in the right direction, though. Therefore, I suggest doing the following:
• Start playing nine-player single-table tournaments (sit-and-gos) to train. You will learn how to play with fewer players and what adjustments you need to make.
• Purchase or download an Independent Chip Model (ICM) calculator and learn how to use it.
Final table play relies entirely on ICM calculations and your experience adjusting to different opponents. So don't miss this step – start studying and practicing now!

1. Play to win
To be a successful tournament player, you must be able to finish in the top three spots every so often. Playing to get in the money is a losing strategy, so try to build your stack and take calculated risks instead.

Obviously, this comes with experience, and the more you play, the better you will get at it. Don't be scared to bust — I have played in many tournaments in a row without final tabling, but when I do make the final table, I usually finish in the top three.

Take a look at few more poker tournament strategy tips, and along with these suggestions, you will build a winning strategy!

Tadas Peckaitis is a professional poker player, author of the free poker book "Play 'A' Game and Be the Boss at Your Poker Table" and poker coach at mypokercoaching.com.
Top 10 tips for winning poker tournaments is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Tadas Peckaitis

Tadas Peckaitis has been a professional poker player, coach and author for almost a decade. He is a manager and head coach at mypokercoaching.com where he shares his experience, and poker strategy tips.
Tadas plays poker, mostly online, but also manages to play live events while travelling through Europe and the U.S.
He is a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas regularly shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students, and deeply enjoys it.
Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or visit www.mypokercoaching.com
Tadas Peckaitis
Tadas Peckaitis has been a professional poker player, coach and author for almost a decade. He is a manager and head coach at mypokercoaching.com where he shares his experience, and poker strategy tips.
Tadas plays poker, mostly online, but also manages to play live events while travelling through Europe and the U.S.
He is a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas regularly shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students, and deeply enjoys it.
Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or visit www.mypokercoaching.com