Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How To Take Your Game To The Next Level: A Strategy For Your Next Poker Tournament

Are you a winning or losing tournament poker player?

You need to be honest with yourself. If you are winning, then all you need to do is to keep working to improve your game. If you are losing, then you really need to re-think your approach to the game because you are not playing good poker. Sorry, despite what you are thinking, you are not playing well at all.

Let me make a few suggestion--consider this a game plan for your next tournament. If it does not help you to win, I believe it will start to get you to think more about your game and how being aggressive is better than waiting for premium cards.

It is sickening how often I see a player wait and wait for a hand. Finally, they get pocket Kings and either everyone folds to his pre-flop raise or someone takes him out of the event by sucking out. Bad beats happen. It's best to have enough chips backing you so you can survive two, and possibly three bad beats.

1. In the early stages

Be cautious and get in cheap if you want to play those small to medium pairs, or those suited connectors. Don't call raises with these hands, since if you are playing online you probably don't have enough chips to call pre-flop raises.

If you want to take the risk, given the favorable implied odds, call small raises with small to medium pairs. If on the flop, no set, no bet. Get out when you miss.

If you do get a hand like A-10 and you are in a late position after a couple of limpers, raise big since you don't want callers.

Respect the raises of early position players.

Respect the raises of tight players.

Respect the re-raises of almost all players.

2. In the middle stages

If you have a hand good enough to call, raise. You are no longer into the calling and hope to hit a flop game. You want to raise and win pots uncontested. If you do get a call, make a c-bet. But, make sure it is around 75% of the size of the pot. If your opponent calls your c-bet decide if he is on a draw or has you beat. Hint: Uncoordinated, rainbow boars are a danger if you get called.

Players who raise from a late position, like the cut-off or button are probably not that strong. If you have not acted, look to re-raise this player, especially if you have a tight table image. The cards don't matter. You are taking advantage of your table image and the probability of a late position steal.

If you get a caller to your re-raise pre-flop, don't give up. Make that c-bet. Yes, we are looking at a 75% size bet.

If you have a hand like pocket 8's or better, or A-J or better, and a player raises pre-flop, and you have only 8x's the original raise--just move all-in. You don't want to see a flop. You want to win the pot right then and there. If you do get called, you will still have a shot at winning.

Never limp pre-flop.

Never call a raise pre-flop.

Either raise, re-raise or fold pre-flop. Let the action revolve around you.

3. Near the bubble

Many players like to survive and just cash. When you are playing hand for hand, be more aggressive. Look to raise pre-flop with a wider range of hands. The same goes for the pre-flop re-raises.

When near the bubble you have the opportunity to accumulate chips easier since your opponents are more fearful of missing the chance to cash.

4. Final table

If you are in an average chip position, it is okay to play at the start of a final table. Let the cards play themselves. After a few players are out, you can change and become more aggressive. Consider changing gears when you get down to 7 players.


Use this game plan and determine what works and does not work for your game. The key is to try new plays and test yourself. Experience is the key to winning poker. If you play the same way all the time, you will get the same results most of the time.

If this game plan doesn't work, write down a different set of guidelines. They key is to take what you are doing, learn, and hopefully, get better results.

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