Poker Tournament Lessons 1

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Poker Tournament Lessons:

Hello everyone and welcome to our poker tournament lessons section!  This series of poker tournament lessons will give you short lessons and tips on how to play poker tournaments successfully.

Editor’s Note:

Before we get started with our poker tournament lessons we recommend you sign up to the best tournament site Ultimate Bet – home of the WSOP record champion Phil Hellmuth.

While PokerStars is technically the biggest tournament poker site for US players, we believe you will earn a much higher profits at UB because the games are much softer. There are fewer pros, better monthly promotions, and new players get a huge bonus almost twice the size of PokerStars – $1,100 Free! 

UB also has better tournaments rewards programs, promotions and weekly/monthly and annual MTT leaderboards make the site a better choice.  The tournament lobby has a selection of tournaments including freezeouts, deep stacks, knockout bounties and even heads up tournaments (HUT’s) that are hard to find elsewhere.

Poker Tournament Lesson 1:

Tournament Bankroll Management

Players in poker tournament need to have a total bankroll to cover at least 40 tournament buy-ins.  This prevents the variance of tournaments from eating away at your bankroll, and gives you enough attempts at games to get into the final places and make a payday.

Putting it mildly, if you don’t have the correct bankroll to play your chosen stakes of tournaments, you’re going to be putting your money at risk too much.  Ideally players should have a large enough bankroll to cover 40 buy-ins for smaller field tournaments and 100 buy-ins for large field tournaments (over 500 entrants).

Poker Tournament Lesson 2:

The Smaller the MTT Fields, The Lower the Risks

Tournaments can be a lottery sometimes what with all the all-ins chip stealing you have to do to compete with the rising blinds.  However players should be reminded when they start out that smaller tournaments with lower fields always have less risk.  With less opponents to compete with, your chance of doubling up or making a final table finish are much greater.  The downside to smaller tournaments is that the prizepool is smaller.  Another upside though is that small field tournaments and games such as speed turbo MTTs finish faster. 

For the best small field tournaments we recommend playing at Carbon Poker, where even the popular daily guaranteed tournaments such as the daily $3k Gtd have usually less than 300 registed players.  Hint: You can get a free $600 bonus and coupon to the daily $3k Gtd if you sign up to Carbon Poker and make a deposit with the deposit code Mosesbet1!

Poker Tournament Lesson 3:

Look for High-Value Poker Tournaments

In online poker guaranteed tournaments in the lobby of poker sites usually provide the best value tournaments.  This is because the poker site is forced to guarantee a certain prizepool in the tournament regardless of how many players register.

If not enough players register to cover the guaranteed prizepool figure, the poker site has to contribute the rest – this is known as the tournament overlay.  Overlay tournaments are the best types of tournaments because they represent exceedingly good expected value. 

Example:  in a typical freezeout poker tournament with a buy-in of $10, if there are 100 entrants the prizepool will be worth $1,000 i.e. each player has a starting chip stack value of $10.

In an overlay tournament that guarantees a $2,000 prizepool however, when 100 entrants register the value of each person’s chips will be $20 – even though they only paid $10 to enter!  The difference in value of everyones starting chips is produced by the overlay.  The outcome is that you get twice as good value for money as the freezeout game.

Another feature of tournaments with overlays is that they signify a low ratio of entrants to the prizes.  This feature means the tournament odds are much more in your favour, and gives you a good chance of receiving a payoff.

Poker Tournament Lesson 4:

Types of Tournament Structures

In the world of online poker there are multifarious structures and varieties of tournaments to choose from.  From knockout tournaments to speed turbos and deep stacks, many of them seem to give professional MTT players their own lexicon of language!

If you’d like to learn more about the different types of tournaments you can browse through our site in the tournament section for an explanation of how they work (a brief explanation is offered below). 

All you need to be aware of here is that different structures of tournaments exist and each requires a different style of strategy to be successful.  It’s sort of like going from driving an automatic car to one with a manual gear shift, to then driving a bus.  Each game has a different structure, the mechanics and dynamics are different, and they all take time to adjust to.

Freezeout Tournament: This is a normal poker tournament where the game continues until one player remains (if there is more than one table it is known as a multi-table tournament).  The buy-in and number of entrants defines the prizepool and it is one of the most common types of live and online tournaments.

Guaranteed Tournament: A guaranteed tournament is one which has a specific guaranteed prizepool regardless of how many players enter.

Knockout Bounty Tournament: Each player has a bounty on his head for when he is knocked out.  The bounty is worth about 10-50% of the buy-in.

Deep Stack Tournament: Players receive a larger starting stack, the blind levels are longer, and the tournaments generally last longer and are popular among small ball/experienced poker players.

Turbo Tournaments: The opposite of deep stack events.  These tournaments are structured to end faster, with players receiving less starting chips and faster blind level intervals.  They require more aggression and luck – good for new players.

Heads Up Tournament: Players play one another in heads up format and advance to the next level when they win. 

Shootout Tournament: Players compete on single tables and the winners of each table progress to the next round.

Poker Tournament Lesson 5:

Tournaments are Different to Cash Games

Unlike cash games, tournaments require players to be extremely aggressive in their poker strategy.  Aggressive/bluffing concepts such stealing, re-stealing, cbetting, 3betting, limp shoving are much more common in tournaments.  The rising blind levels and constantly changing environment, as well as the fact you only have one chip stack, means your tournament strategy should be very different.  The rising blind levels make it a requirement to accumulate chips quickly in tournaments.  It also means the additional chips you collect have a lower utility value than any chips you lose.  This is different to cash games where every chip you accumulate is worth exactly the same.

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