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So you’ve been playing and winning some on the free tables and are ready to make a deposit and try some no-limit real money poker games. Great – here’s a tip for how to get hours of play – win or lose – on just a small deposit. The online poker tournaments!
When I finally got comfortable enough beating the newbies at the free tables – I made my deposit (I deposited $100) and headed for the reasonable buy-in no-limit tables. Within an hour I was down about $60 and sort of scratching my head. I thought I’d try my luck at a Texas Hold’em tournament – so went ahead and spent $30 of my last $40 to enter to PartyPoker Million qualifying tournament. Unfortunately, I only got 4th place in that – not good enough to qualify – but, I played for about 2 hours and really had a great time. That was the first Poker tournament I had ever played, now Texas Hold’em tournaments are one of my favorite things to play.
Licking my wounds, I deposited another $100 but this time headed for the low limit tournament tables. I started playing the $5/$1 and the $10/$2 tournaments. Basically, you buy in for $6 (if the $5/$1) and get $800 worth of chips. From there it’s pretty much like any other Texas Hold’em game with some small exceptions.
For starters, rather than really win the pots, the tournaments generally pay the top 3 places (the single table tournaments at least). The $5/$1 tournaments on PartyPoker pay $25 to 1st, $15 to 2nd, and $10 to 3rd. Secondly, the blinds increase as more hands are dealt with. For example, blinds maybe $10 / $15 at the start, but before it’s over will be $100 / $50. This will eventually squeeze a really tight player out if he’s not careful.
So – here’s how I can generally place in the top 3 more often than not…
Just like playing the free tables, playing most low limit tables, you will be playing against more average players than really good players. Don’t underestimate them – but don’t be intimated either.
I start most tournaments playing pretty tight and it always seems that of the starting 10 players, at least 2 or 3 are really loose. Just sit back and study – take note of what hands players are considering bet-worthy hands and within the first 10 hands you should know who’s loose and who’s not. Look to catch one of these loose players holding a bad hand – it’s an easy mark that will result in a solid chip lead. Don’t force it – don’t chase cards – be patient and wait for the right hand. When you do have the right hand, bet humbly. You’ve been shy so far, and your fish has been aggressive. Chances are he’ll try to push you around a bit – ponder his calls – and humbly call. Just call his raises – if you are absolutely sure you have the hand – re-raise on 5th street – but again, I personally don’t believe in being overly aggressive at this stage. Once you catch your fish – you should have a comfortable stack of chips and can move to phase II.
Even though I’ve got a decent stack of chips at this stage, I still play fairly tight. I may chase some hands, but I never bluff and try my best not to go on tilt and make wild bets. Remember, in a tournament you need to be thinking survival as well as conquer. If you’ve got 2 or more players betting really aggressively on a hand – and you are not totally confident – fold and let them duke it out. Even though you did not win anything on that hand – if a player gets knocked out and it’s not you – then you are one step closer to finishing in the money.
As players get knocked out – your blinds will also be raised, which means you do have to win some pots or you will eventually go broke on blinds. Even still – don’t rush. Wait for good cards and spend your folded time studying how the remaining opponents are adjusting. Some get looser, some get tighter. If you have remaining players with small stacks of chips, bully them a bit. A chip lead is a huge advantage in poker tournaments so use it. Don’t get reckless – but put some betting pressure on them. Don’t do stupid things like throwing more into a pot than they could even match – if a player has $168 in chips – bet $168. Don’t waste money.
Once you are down to your last 4 or 5 players you need to start getting a bit more aggressive. Fewer hands are being dealt, so fewer great hands are going to be showing up. You can start playing things like semi-solid pairs with a bit more confidence. Even still – don’t always look for the 1 punch knockouts. At the pot levels in this stage of the tournament, most any hand that’s not totally folded is going to really help one and hurt another. This is really the only stage of the tournament that I do much bluffing either – but stealing pots and blinds is critical.
Be wise – remember, it survives as much as it’s conquered. While another player cannot win chips for you – he or she certainly can eliminate other players for you – which is what the goal is. By this time you have muscled your way into the top 3 – which puts you in the money. Go for the Win – play your heart out – but at this stage, win or lose your real money deposit account has grown – not shrunk, and you’ve had a good hour or two of hard-nosed texas hold’em.
Jennifer is a cat lover. You will always find her enjoying poker games while her cat sits on her lap. She is also a tech wizard and wishes to move into a completely AI controlled home.