Were you hooked on poker the moment you saw a bunch of guys gathered around the poker table in your favorite gangster movie? After making your first step in playing this casino classic—learning new strategies at small stake games online—you decided it is the right time to move to the next level.
Online poker tournaments offer a completely fresh playing experience and they truly represent the next level of gameplay.
We don’t guarantee that you will become the next Daniel Negreanu, or Phil Ivey, after reading this article, but we will offer some online poker tournament tips that will strengthen your online poker tournament strategy. After reading this article you’ll be confident enough to take over any online poker tournament table.
First of all, let’s see what are the versions of online poker tournaments you can choose to participate in. Find the type of poker tournament that suits you best.
The basic division of online poker tournaments is based on the number of tables they are played at. So, we have:
- single table poker tournaments
- multi-table poker tournaments
The single table tournaments don’t have a schedule, they start when a sufficient number of players take their seats at a table. What’s more, multi-table tournaments are known for having a fixed prize pool that doesn’t depend on the number of players at the table. If we go further into this classification, we will find:
- Freezeout poker tournaments — here you get out of a game the moment you stay out of playing chips.
- Re-buy — when you play these poker tournaments you don’t have to worry about staying out of the game too early because you can always buy your seat back.
- Deep stack poker tournaments — they follow the same rules as the freezeout, the only difference is that the blinds change a bit slower, allowing the gameplay to fully develop by playing more hands.
Now that you have different online poker tournament versions, let’s start listing those online poker tournament tips that will make it easier for you to devise a killer strategy.
#1 Be Prepared
Have you watched a ninja movie lately? No? Well, you should. Before you even decide to take a seat at an online poker tournament table you should practice and prepare yourself mentally.
Just like ninjas, you have to stay committed to mastering various skills while devising an unbeatable online poker tournament strategy. You should also be prepared for a long-lasting, mentally-exhausting competition with other players at an online poker tournament table.
Luckily for you, nowadays, there are numerous online tools and apps that can help you along the way. You can use these virtual helpers to calculate your odds or study your hands. Don’t be shy to use them, they can ease your way to becoming the ultimate poker tournament player.
# 2 Set Your Mind Right
Entering an online poker tournament clear-headed and staying that way is an essential skill you should seriously work on. There’s a bunch of different situations and outcomes players should face. There are several factors that can distract you and make you lose your focus.
When players experience several winnings at a serious poker tournament, they tend to think they have mastered the game of poker completely and that they don’t need to study and improve their game anymore. In addition, once they start winning, they tend to make rash decisions which lead them to a total bankroll bust.
On the other hand, losing constantly can make you anxious which lead to tilt, and that is never a good thing.
Bear in mind that besides essential skills, and a considerable amount of luck, you will also need nerves of steel when you decide to enter a poker tournament. So, try to stay calm and collected and don’t let the situation at the poker table get the best of you.
# 3 The Importance of Knowing What ICM Is
The value of chips changes as the poker tournament progresses. This value decreases as you get closer to the tournament finish line. This way, individual players can’t get their hands on some substantial prize money. This is the main difference between an online poker tournament and a cash game where the value of chips stay the same for the whole duration of the game.
#4 Adjust Your Gameplay to Your Chip Stack
Online poker tournaments usually include blinds — bets that are required and mandatory to open the tournament. There are always small blinds and big blinds. The higher the blinds, the higher the stakes. You should always pick tournaments your bankroll can support.
Once you are in, bear in mind that the poker tournament consists of stages where the stakes will get higher. So in order to keep yourself in the game as long as you can, you should learn how to adjust your chip stack size to the remaining stages of the game. Once you learn how to do this, you won’t have to fear breaking your bankroll in the early stages of the tournament.
If you divide your stack with the number of big blinds, you will get the number of hands you have left for that game. For example, you are playing at the 10/20 table with $2000 in chips. This means that you will have enough chips to play 100BB (big blinds).
However, ante bets get involved in the later stages of numerous poker tournaments. This way, all the players contribute to the pot and the gameplay intensifies because the stakes get higher and the pot gets bigger.
Now, you need to add up the entire amount of money placed for initial bets and divide your stack by it. The number you get is the number of hands you can play with your current stack.
If this number is five or under, bet all in with a strong hand or give up and flop. If the number is between six and fifteen, don’t play loose and continue betting only on hands that have considerable value. If the number of remaining hands exceeds fifteen, you can afford to play loose and with different ranges.
# 5 Play Differently at Different Stages of the Tournament
We have already lined out the most significant differences between a cash game and an online tournament. The poker tournament is divided into stages and your goal should be to stay in the game for the later stages if you want to get your share of the prize.
- You should use the early stages of the game when the chip stacks are deep to study your rivals’ game and also try playing loose when you can. If you spot someone who is playing just for fun, attack that player and try to get him out of the competition. If you are surrounded by players better than you, be cautious but don’t play too tight because it is a highly predictable playing style.
- In the middle stages of the game, things begin to speed up and the stakes get higher with antes getting into the game. When you reach this poker tournament stage observe your rivals’ stacks carefully and play accordingly. Be careful not to play too aggressively in this stage of the game, because things can change in a blink of an eye and there is still a long way to go to the final table.
- Here is an online poker tournament strategy you can apply once you get to that coveted final table at an online poker tournament. If you lose your bankroll just before the final table, you’ve experienced a final table bubble. You should use the following online poker tournament tips to prevent this situation.
You should have gathered important information about other players at the table by now. Use this information to make wise moves in the final stage of the game.
If you have a considerable bankroll left in this stage, use it to attack those players holding middle stacks. Middle stacks tend to break easily as the tournament hits the finishing line.
These are some essential online poker tournament strategy every poker player should include in their gameplay. Now that we have brought you this knowledge, feel free to visit various poker sites and try your skills by playing online poker tournaments for real money.