Early Tournament Strategy

In a multi-table no limit Hold’em tournament, you won’t make any money unless you reach the final stages of the tournament. This means that in the early stages, you should play very tight poker. Playing only premium starting hands such as AA, KK, QQ, AQ,AK and AJ will help you get in with the best cards and make the most on your money.

Many people feel that since the blinds are cheap, this is the time to play fast and loose. However, if you play tight poker early on in the tournament, you will allow those players we call “fish” to weed themselves out. Bluffing simply does not work well this early in the tournament.

Some of the players that are at your table will be marginal poker players at best and a bluff only works on players that know when to fold. By playing super tight poker early in the tournament, you will gain the reputation of a rock and that will help you pull a bluff or two off as the tournament goes on.

Mid Tournament Strategy

Now that many of the fish are gone, you can loosen up your play a bit. This does not mean to throw caution to the wind and bluff off a lot of your chips with rag cards. However, your tight reputation should allow you to bet hard on marginal hands or raise the blinds and pick up some extra chips. Many players get nervous at this point because they begin to think they are not too far away from the final table and the money. Watching the other players will give you a good feel for the types of players you can bluff. Never try to pull off a bluff in a multi-way pot and never try to bluff the guy that has more chips than you. You want to go into the final table with a good sized stack if possible, playing short stacked at the final table is nerve wracking.

Late Tournament Strategy

At the final table, the power lies with those who have the most chips. Hopefully, at this point you have at least a mid-sized stack. If you do, try to raise with decent starting hands in the later betting positions and make those short stacked players push all-in or fold to you. Short stacks are just trying to survive and fold their way to the money, so take advantage of that fact and put pressure on them. Most players on the short stack will go all-in with small pocket pairs or with ace-rag. Be wary when entering a pot with bigger stacks, unless you have an excellent starting hand. At the final table you must pick your battles and make your chips work for you. You will have to take a few risks and get lucky at the final table to get into the money.

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