In the early stage stay TIGHT.
Far too many poker players play too many hands at the start of a tournament. In a MTT you start with so many chips it feels like you can see so many flops with your suited connectors and small pairs to try and hit big.
Starting with this many chips does not mean that you have to spew some off just because you have a lot in front of you. Calling with a weak hand pre-flop is bad in the long run if you are not yet that much of an experienced player you might also make mistakes post-flop which could cause serious damage.
We’ve all played those hands where we catch a card that keeps us in till the river, the river bricks and we realize we have lost 60% of our stack chasing.
The best hands to play at this time are monsters. Hands such as AK, AQ, AJ, are fine for this time, if you hit, you have a big pair with a big kicker, if you miss you can easily bin the hand.
Big pairs AA, KK, QQ, JJ, these hands you will often have an over pair to the board and it is usually pretty easy to read if your JJ is beaten by someone holding a medium ace.
Medium-Small pairs are fine if you can see the flop cheap and hope to catch a set if you miss then the hand is worth nothing and it can be binned.
In every stage of a tournament aggressive play is a good play.
I’ve always liked the phrase Raise-or-fold. Of course, there are always exceptions to this, if you are limping with a monster to catch an aggressive player out, or there is a short stack to act after you.
Being aggressive gives you two lines of play. Firstly it allows you to win a big pot when you turn over the nuts at the end of the hand but your aggression left the player undecided if you had ‘it’ so they felt they had to call. Secondly, when you don’t quite have ‘it’ you can play your aggression to make your opponent fold, still thinking about his earlier read in the game, aggression and bet sizing with this aggression can make it very hard for your opponents to call their chips off.
Push harder once the ANTES arrive.
Once the antes come into play there are more chips to be won in every hand. This is the perfect time for you to open your range and start to collect more chips.
Opening in a hand with a weaker hand is fine but you still have to look at position and other players. Raising with a weak hand like 85 off in early position is no good if you feel like you will face a re-raise from later position or a player knows what you are doing.
Taking a small pot down in late position uncontested adds considerable amounts to your stack.
However this still needs to be done with care as other players now have the same idea as you, and you don’t want to get into a pot that gets your stack in trouble.
Small RAISES in the later stages.
In the later stages of tournaments, blinds are getting bigger and the average stack has less big blinds.
If you sit too tight you will blind out so quickly which leaves you in the push fold position. This means you still have to play spots and try and steal pots.
If you wake up with a hand like A8 in a late position you want to steal the pot. However, if you are sat with a 13 big blind stack raising 4x is going to leave you pot committed, if somebody raises or shoves all in you either have to take a flip with them knowing you are most likely behind or give up that large amount of your stack.
If you had just over min-raised there, you can look stronger and also it is much easier to give up if you think someone has woken up with a monster and you can find yourself a better spot with the chips you have left.
For more tips like these, check out PokerNerve’s MTT strategies.
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