How To Win Your First Texas Holdem Tournament

Stage-By-Stage Guide To Beating Texas Holdem Tournaments Online!

Tournament poker is the most popular form of the game when measured by the number of players. This is not surprising, the standard of poker skills (at least at the lower buy-ins) is often terrible in these games – giving those players who know the ropes a great chance of booking a big win.

Here I will show you some of the pitfalls which stop many people winning Texas Holdem tournaments. The key strategy factor which people miss is that they do not adapt their play for the different types of opponent and situation which occur as the game progresses through different stages.

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How To Win A Texas Holdem Poker Tournament – Overview

how to win first tournamentBefore going through the stages, here is an overview of where your money comes from in this form of Texas Holdem.

It will seem ‘obvious’, though most players do not play as if it is!

The huge majority of your profit will come from the occasional final table, or even better top 3 finishes. There is no way you can profit over time by playing tight and sneaking into the lowest paying places, the times you bust early will prevent that.

You need to accumulate chips and keep on building to aim for the final table, your ‘tournament life’ is not worth saving if you have a +ev situation unless your edge on the field is HUGE (and I mean, Phil Ivey against novices huge). When you read the guide below, bear in mind that it is worth busting out of the game a few times to give yourself a better chance of hitting that final table.

How To Win A Texas Holdem Poker Tournament – The Early Stages

Tournaments attract a lot of novice players, and because of this they become profitable for experienced players too. At the start of the game the ratio between fish and experts will be at it’s peak. In other words there is no better opportunity to win some chips!

At the same time, danger lurks. When you raise your Ace-King, get 5 callers and miss the flop there is little point trying to push people out of the hand. With any pair, any draw and sometimes nothing at all happily calling your continuation bet – you would just be throwing money away.

When you do have a big hand, you are far more likely to get paid off. This makes hands like small pairs and suited connectors very valuable. When you hit the flop hard, you can expect to double-up through someone who gets too attached to a hand like top-pair.

If you get a premium hand than you can play it aggressively in the early stages. Remember, experts are aware when quiet / tight players suddenly wake up and start betting – novice opponents are not even thinking about this.

Remember, if you do not take the chips from the novices, they will be harder to win from the better players later in the game.

How To Win A Texas Holdem Poker Tournament – Middle Stages

As the blinds climb and the worst players bust, you need to start adjusting your strategy once again to suit the different conditions. You should cut out many of those speculative hands from your range, and instead steal more often with hands with high-card strength.

Exactly how often to steal blinds and push limpers off of their hands depends on several factors. First the stack size of you and your opponents. People with very large and very small stacks are harder to push out of hands (the first can afford to call, the second might just be feeling desperate enough to go for it). Your image and the tendencies of your opponents will need to be factored in, as well as the actual hand you hold.

If you get fairly short-stacked, you are probably better off re-raising than open raising yourself. This wins you a lot more chips, and if you pick a hand which has a decent chance of winning when called then you can find some great spots to chip up.

There will still be novice players around, and isolating them by raising after they limp can be a good (if swingy) strategy.

As the money approaches, play will usually get very tight. Few new players want to risk busting before the bubble bursts. There are two ways you can take advantage of this. First, raise to steal a lot of blinds and antes, particularly from mid-sized stacks who are certain of making the money if they fold to your aggression. Second, be aware that big stacks will be stealing a lot, if you are happy to take a small risk, you can find lots of profitable spots to re-raise in. Those times you bust will be more than made up for by those times you double-up and go on to have a deep run.

How To Win A Texas Holdem Poker Tournament – Late Stages

Expect to find mayhem after the bubble bursts and the money is locked-up. All of those players who were staying snug until the money will now go crazy in an effort to double-up and gain a stack which is big enough to make a proper run for the final table.

You can take advantage by calling lighter than you might normally do, and taking a positive expectation situation against a wide (even crazy) range of a short stacked opponent.

There will be another bubble as the final table approaches. With two tables and 11 / 12 players left, nobody wants to make a big mistake and miss out on the better money. Like the first bubble, you can take advantage of this situation by playing aggressive and positive poker. This has the extra advantage of giving you more chips when the final table itself begins.

At the final table you will find many players sit tight and try and nurse their short stacks a little longer to move up the payments ladder. Steal chips from these types, though you can safely fold if they start to play back at you. How aggressively you play will depend on the size of your chipstack, remember to go for the win here though – the extra cash will make up for all those times you bust out along the way!

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