Top 10 Tournament Tips

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Top 10 Tournament Tips:

1.  MTT Bankroll Management

Optimising the appropriate bankroll management is crucial to avoid losing money playing MTTs. You need to cover at least 100 buy-ins in MTT bankroll management to avoid variance and downswings.  Some pro high stakes MTT players (cough* Chris Moorman) have gone up to 20 games in a row without cashing out. Mental I know, but if you play enough volume you’re going to go through tough periods. Re-buy tournaments need a committment of at least 5 buy-ins.  This allows you to play a loose-agressive game and take advantage of the structure.

2.  Tight-Agressive (TAG) in the Early Stages of a Tournament

Play very tight early on.  Your starting hands should include 1010+ and AK-AJ.  You should only be limping with marginal hands from late position – and only then you only be doing it if you have the implied odds.  On average you should have a flop percentage of 10-15% to begin with.  Read TAG starting hand ranges in tournaments to learn more.  All you gotta know is that fishy players call the flop too loosely in tournments, this bleeds chips and makes them unprofitable players.

3.  Utilise Your Stack Effectively

When deep stacked play agressively and bully the smaller stacks.  Mid-stacked players with 20-30BBs should avoid getting into trouble hands with deep stacks and concentrate on picking off small stack players. When short-stacked, you need to jam as early as possible with your top 50% of hands – including suited connectors, pockets and face cards.  Read more about moving all-in.

4.  Don’t Slow Play Pre-flop

Most people laugh themselves silly when they see a nit slow playing AA or KK from the hole and lose a 5-way pot.  In a tournament with 10 players at your table you have to get rid of limpers by raising (or re-raising) pre-flop 3-4xBBs.  Regardless of your position this is a pretty strict rule and there are limited situtions (if any) where you should slow-play monsters.  You can only slow play AA when you have a very loose image against TAG playes.

5.  Don’t Go Broke with AK on the Flop

As discussed in a previous article, AK is not unbeatable and you shouldn’t be rushing all-in post-flop when you hit the board.   Value shoving pre-flop with AK is normally ok against small stacks, but if you’ve raised and got called by a TAG pre-flop then you should be prepared to throw your hand away.You should only bother continuation betting flops with AK if there’s less than 2 opponents in the hand.

6.  Bluff Wisely, Use Position

Bluffing, stealing and re-stealing are important in tournaments.  But you have to bluff at the correct times and you need to take into accoun effective stacks, fold equity and position.  Bluffing against someone with an M-Ratio’s below 10 won’t work because they can’t afford to fold and leave chips on the table.  It’s also not great practice (unless you’re really loose agressive) to be shoving with less than premium hands in early position (read shoving from EP).

7.  Don’t Go Broke with Underpairs on the Board

Solid loose-agressive players know when they’re behind post-flop and are able to fold decents hands in iffy situations.  This is why they can afford to open with so many hands and are not restricted to premium cards pre-flop.  For example, if you find yourself facing a triple-barrel raise from a tight player or in the middle of a 3bet war, than the chances are your underpair won’t hold up.  Only call bets on the flop, turn and river with underpairs for 2 reasons – either for pot value, to hope to bluff your opponent on later streets, or because you think your opponent(s) has missed the flop entirely.

8.  Don’t Go Broke Calling with Draws for Bad Pot Value

It’s amazing to see how many bad MTT players will call down pots just because they had “outs”.  You need to be aggressive in tournaments but the mathematics of expected value and pot odds still applies. You also need to remember with one stack you should be calling lighter in the later stages – especially the bubble period.

9.  Be Aggressive, Not a Lunatic

Being aggressive requires taking calculated risks.  Blind steals, EP shoves, cbets and squeezes are all qualities of a good LAG player.  But not everyone knows when to pull them off.  I can guarantee you that the best LAG players play off their opponent’s stats with a poker HUD.  This means that they only cbet or 4bet opponents when they have an excellent insight into their playing style and  positional hands.

10.  Aim for 1st at the Final Table

If you’re lucky enough to reach the final table, then you have to play for 1st place.  Don’t get complacent with a 7th place finish.  Most MTTs have a top heavy payoff structure which rewards taking bigger risks late on.  At Carbon Poker for example, 1st place gets 30% of the prizepool in MTTs compared to just 2% for coming 9th.

Now Go Play Some Poker Tournaments!

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