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Poker Strategy | Tournaments Strategy

Types Of Poker Tournaments and Tournament Tips

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There are numerous types of tournaments that you can play. Here are the most common ones.

Freeze Out: This is the most common tournament. Every player starts with the same amount of chips and play until one player has all of the chips.

Satellite/Super Satellite: These tournaments are low cost options to getting into a bigger buy-in event. Unlike a freeze out, they do not play to completion but play until the number of seats into the bigger buy-in event has been reached. For example, 100 players put up $100 for a chance to win a seat into a $1,000 tournament. There are 9 seats available. Once they reach 9 players, the tournament is over.

Re-buy: In these tournaments, players can re-buy an unlimited amount of times if they fall below a certain amount of chips for a certain period of time, usually the first two or three levels of the tournament. Typically in these tournaments, a player can also add on at the break to get additional chips.

Limited Re-buy: In these tournaments, players can re-buy for a certain period of time, but only a limited number of times, usually one or two.

Shootout: These are tournaments consisting of a series of single table satellites where the winner of each table moves on to the next round. The winner of the tournament is the winner of the final table.

Heads Up:
These are tournaments where players play a series of heads up matches (one against one) with the winner's advancing in brackets until there is one player left standing.

Deep Stack: These are tournaments that have a higher number of starting chips than a normal tournament.

Turbo: These are tournaments that have either shorter blind level rounds, lower starting chips, or both, than a normal tournament.

Tournament Tips

#1 – Early in a tournament try and speculate as much as possible. This is the time of the tournament when the bad players are giving away their chips and you want to be the one trying to get them rather than letting someone else take them. By speculating that means calling raises or limping in with hands like pocket pairs, suited connectors, suited A-x and suited K-x.

#2 – Avoid playing big pots early. The only time you should play a big pot early in a tournament is when you know you have the best of it. Keep the pots small by making small bets and playing a bit more passively with your marginal holdings.

#3 – Don't let yourself get so short that a raise/shove from you has no meaning. Many players make the mistake of blinding/anteing down until they have 3-5 big blinds and then complain about how unlucky they are when their pocket aces are cracked by 9-7 off when they open shoved for four big blinds and the big stack called their measly little raise. By making sure your stack is large enough, you can get marginal hands to fold and when you do double up, you're not necessarily in the same position you were before... a short stack with one move.

#4 – When the antes kick in, start opening up your game and attacking players who are survival minded. You can tell who these players are... the ones who fold their big blind every time or who fold any time they face adverse pressure. Identify these players and raise their blinds and re-raise them when they raise.

#5 – Play tight early, loose late. Position is such an important part of tournament poker; the later you act, the more information you have available to you; the more information you have, the better informed you are to make decisions. As such, you should play fewer hands in early position and more hands in later position.

#6 – Observe your opponents carefully. A key part to tournament poker is identifying a player’s tendencies.
•    When they raise from the button, is this a play they make all the time or never? If it's a common play, they are more than likely stealing and you can make a move on them. If it's not something they do often, they probably have a big hand and you should fold.
•    Do they only limp in with hands like small pairs and suited connectors but raise with bigger pairs and Ace King? Raise their limps big since you know their range and can make it difficult for them. Call their raises with speculative hands since you know that you can win a big pot if you hit.

Being able to identify how players play certain hands can be the single most important thing you do in a tournament.

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