Without further ado, further below there’s the list of 22 poker tournament strategy tips which will give you a starter on your path to tournament domination (we hope!). You can take a look at this video while you’re reading through.
1. In the early stages play tight. Your aim is to avoid elimination. Rely on strong starting hands and extremely tight post flop play. Don’t hurry to build a giant stack. In the early stages of a tournament it doesn’t matter who’s in the lead. Wait for your hand.
2. Reserve looser, aggressive play for the later stages, when most players have been knocked out, the blinds are rising, and it’s the right time for strong winning tactics.
3. Only play A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J and A-K in early position. If you don’t want to face a re-raise on a hand, then don’t raise with it. Be prepared to let all but A-A and K-K go if you face an all in from an opponent. Raise with 10-10, 9-9, 8-8 in mid to late position. Other hands you can consider playing in late position, but only if you can do it cheaply, include two suited face cards, and suited aces down to an eight. With these big hands, play three times the big blind. Stick to this as a standard raise.
4. As a tournament progresses, you will need to become increasingly aggressive in your play, but still be selective. Position is critical, check where you are before raising. The time to change your game is when around half the players have been eliminated. The middle stages are a great time to try out a few blind stealing bluffs.
5. Watch the other players to determine how they play. Are they aggressive, semi-aggressive, middle, tight, or solid.
6. Never try to bluff an idiot. You can’t judge what moves poor players will make. Never bluff in the early stages of a STT. The blinds are not worth taking the risk.
7. Create the impression that you’re a rock. If one player amasses a huge stack early on, it’s possible he’ll eliminate the lesser players gradually. Don’t be one of them.
8. Don’t play when you’re tired.
9. Keep pressure on by re-raising with strong hands. Set your own standard for what your raises will be.
10. Don’t let other players change your style of play. When the blinds are low, there is no need to get caught up in big pots because you think someone is stealing your blind.
11. Think about limping in from early position with Aces and Kings against aggressive opponents.
12. Bet consistent amounts to hide whether you have a big or moderate hand.
13. Watch out for your kicker. Remember high pair hands can be lost with a weak kicker.
14. Be unpredictable. Switch from aggressive to solid and back to mislead your opponents.
15. Play small connectors very carefully. Remember it’s easy to hit over pairs on the flop.
16. Learn the odds. Tournaments are all about survival, don’t make big calls just because your pot odds are good.
17. If the flop brings trips, bet against aggressive players but be careful against rocks or solid players.
18. Re-raise with A-K before the flop and re-raise when the flop shows A-x-x.
19. Be careful with high connectors. If you hit the flop you may be forced into chasing the straight.
20. When on the blinds in an un-raised pot you should raise regularly. You may get a good flop if called, and this will ensure good value if you get a strong hand.
21. Be unpredictable when bluffing. Wait until you’ve had a strong showdown hand before attempting to bluff.
22. When it’s late in the game, and you’re short stacked, you need to avoid hoping the other players will take each other out. They’ll just watch you lose on the blinds. This is when aggressive play is needed. Try to double up with all-in plays with any reasonable hand. It’s surprising how often the others will fold, or you’ll win with medium hands.
23. Don’t enter a tournament where the stake will affect your play. If it’s too high you run the risk of choking when there’s a need for a critical bluff or call, and if too low you’ll maybe take chances that you don’t need to.
Poker Tournament Strategy Resources
SitAndGoPlanet.com offer a valuable poker tournament strategy website, with dozens of useful articles covering all many aspects of tournament play.
PokerListings has a superb easy to follow Poker Tournament Strategy section which holds valuable info from beginner to advanced level tournament play.
The Poker-Strategy.org tournament strategy section holds articles on Multi-table, Single table, Freeroll, and Rebuy tournament strategies.
Tight Poker’s tournament pages contain numerous guides on how to improve your poker tournament strategies, including no limit, limit, and many others.