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Playing Tournaments


Tournaments vary significantly from regular games from a strategical point of view. In a ring game you need skills such as steadiness, precision and the ability to know when to surrender a hand. Tournament play on the other hand requires the ability to win a high percentage of the pots you play. To succeed at tournament games you must understand these crucial differences and play with this in mind.

Starting Off - Always know the Blinds structure and how the Prize Pool is to be divided before starting the tournament.

The next thing to think about during tournament play is that it is fast. The blinds go up every 10-15 minutes so you need to keep close track of how many blinds are left in your stack, and how long it is before the blinds increase again.

While the cost of the blinds is fairly low in comparison with your stack size, you can play much more marginal hands than normal. It is worth risking a small portion of your stack to see the flop with small pairs, suited connectors and other minor hands in order to double your stack if you hit big on the flop.

On the same note it is also worth playing good hands somewhat conservatively pre-flop. If you hold AK in late position and there are several callers it is often better just to call. This reduces your loss should the flop not turn out to be to your liking and you also have the advantage of disguise if you hit a monster hand on the flop.

The early stages can be played in two ways: You can play aggressively and try to build a substantial or you can try for a steady growth of chips by playing more conservatively. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages so you should play what ever feels most comfortable.

Don't concentrate on eliminating other players in the early stages. You are too far from the prize to be concerned with how many players are left, and it is more important to focus on keeping your stack in good shape. You should also remember that players about to be eliminated are bound to go all the way, so if you have a good hand it is a good chance to increase your stack.

Intermediate - At this point the blinds are always increasing and so it will start to represent an increasing part of your stack. Therefore winning the blinds becomes important at this stage. If you are first to bet the pot you should consider entering with a raise, very often you can take the blinds as your opponents will be risking a large proportion of their stack by calling your raise.

On the other hand you must tighten up your requirements for calling, and when you do add into a pot you have to be very aggressive about it. Unless you are continuously winning pots with some regularity you will quickly find your stack shrinking, so try to win the blinds once per round. Therefore you can see another round of hands and increase your chance of hitting the hand you're looking for.

If your stack drops lower than 4 times the upper limit, you can anticipate being called a lot more often. That's because your stack is not large enough to critically damage the larger stacks at the table, and the other players know that you are being forced to play somewhat more marginal hands. Beat this by raising only with top hands and limping in with practical hands. It's advisable to lower your calling requirements when you are short stacked in case a better opportunity comes along.

If you have twice the average stack size or more you are in a good position. Beware, this can change instantly as the blinds quickly add up, so don’t let things slip. Continue playing aggressively, especially with the short stacks, but be cautious of the other large stacks at the table as they can do you serious damage.


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