Let me first introduce myself. My name is Mark and I run the Poker Bankroll Blog and the PokerBRB.com freeroll and tournament league. The Poker Bankroll Blog is full of articles on poker tournament strategy written by me and guest authors. There are articles for every level of poker player. The PokerBRB freeroll and tournament league is our free to join poker league where we host monthly competitions with freerolls and tournaments. Each freeroll and
Image by Jam Adams via Flickrtournament in the PokerBRB freeroll league counts towards our monthly leaderboard. The top 20 on each monthly leaderboard get invited to our exclusive monthly finals.
Lately I have given a lot of thought to the notion of formulating an optimal strategy for playing low stakes MTT online tournaments. I’m pretty sure I don’t have it nailed down yet, but I want to share what I have come up with so far. Maybe you have some ideas of your own to add to mine? Before I start I would like to share one of the most important things I have come to realize lately when it comes to optimizing your chances of winning an online poker tournament:
Don’t expect to win if you don’t have the time and attention to invest in the tournament.
I myself have a tendency to run poker tournaments in the background when I write articles for my blogs or do work on my websites. Truth be told neither my work or my poker tournament results benefit from this. If you want to win tournaments force yourself to focus on the action taking place on your table also when you are not involved in hands. Playing more tournaments at the same time could help you to prevent your mind from drifting.
Playing low stakes MTT online poker tournaments before the 1st break:
· Many of your opponents in this stage of the tournament will be paying most attention to their own cards and not so much on what kind of hands their opponents might have. They will more often call raises with medium hands such as AQ, AJ, 99 etc than re-raising them. If they hit top pair they will seldom fold. As a consequence trying to bluff them out of a pot with fancy play seldom pays off.
· You will see a lot of call - raise - call action in the beginning of low stakes poker tournaments meaning that you will rarely win pots through pre flop raises. This means that if you decide to try to pick up a pot through bluffing you need to be prepared to follow through post flop. Suited connectors are good hands to do this with as they need to see a flop to improve and are well disguised if you open them with a pre flop raise.
· When you get dealt premium hands raise them to 5-6BBs to isolate the field.
· If your starting stack is 1500 and you haven’t doubled by the time the blinds have reached 50/100 you should start taking risks and stop calling drawing hands; if you think a hand is good enough to call it is good enough to raise. Keep in mind that the chances taken early in a tournament, if payed off, mean that you won’t have to take as many risks later.
· Don’t go all in unless you feel confident that your opponent will fold his hand or call with a worse hand than your own
· Set as a goal to triple your stack before the 1st break.
Playing low stakes MTT online poker tournaments after the 1st break:
· The quality of your opposition will now have increased and some of your opponents are now considering your possible hands as well as their own. This opens up opportunities for stealing pots through bluffs but also means that you have to deal with opponents pulling the same moves on you. At this stage in the tournament being able to classify your opponents will improve the chances of your bluffs being successful.
· Have a plan and a purpose for every hand you play
· Loosen up your starting hand requirements and start raising more often. Since the blinds have now grown to represent a higher fraction of the average chip stack, 3xBB raises are usually sufficient. Your aim is to pick up as many pots as possible while risking as little of your stack as possible. This approach is known as small ball poker.
· Set as a goal to stay above the average stack size for the tournament.
Playing the late stages of a low stakes MTT online poker tournament:
· Turn up your aggression a couple of notches loosening up your starting hand requirements and raising often aiming to pick up the blinds.
· As Mitchell Cogert would say: Embrace the risk. You have to be brave and fearless to end up standing as the winner of any kind of poker tournament.
Mark, thanks for your insights on how to play low stakes MTT poker tournaments. I definitely recommend poker players should check out the great work you are doing with your Poker Bankroll Blog and PokerBRB.com freeroll and tournament league. Best of luck.