Intro to Tournaments

Multitable tournaments are one of the most popular forms of poker. In fact, when players talk about friends who "play poker," they're almost always referring to big Las Vegas tournaments. Because these games are so popular, becoming adept at negotiating the changing dynamic of the tournament field will ensure that you always have a steady stream of income from these high-value games.

Tournaments are about stack preservation

One of the most important concepts in tournament poker is stack preservation. When your stack begins to dwindle, all of the hands you get in the future are actually worth less. If we were to get a hand like pocket aces and double up with them, we'd rather have our 5,000 chip starting stack than have called several bets and let our stack fall to 3,500. In the first case, we'd have 10,000 chips. In the second, just 7,000. That amounts to a significant chip difference, as tournaments require us to double up five or ten times in order to win the game. It's important in an MTT to have a stack that's as big as the other stacks at the table, and stack preservation goes a long way to ensuring this is the case.

What does stack preservation mean? Simply, don't risk chips that won't earn you a return, and prefer a high-frequency return over a high-value return. For example, if you have the nuts on the river, and you have the option to make a small bet that will be called more often or a large bet that will be called less often, it's often more valuable to make the small bet. It also means not calling before the flop, but raising or folding instead. Calling before the flop, especially shorter than 100BB deep, leaks chips. At the early levels of small stakes tournaments, you often see players calling before the flop. Don't fall into the trap of saying "everyone else has called, so I have odds to call." In higher stakes tournaments, or at the final table of medium-stakes tournaments, you see very little calling before the flop. Players who make this mistake go broke.

Master the pre-flop and flop game

In poker tournaments, the hand often ends before the flop. If it doesn't end before the flop, it often ends after the flop. Very rarely do tournament hands go to the river. For this reason, we recommend mastering the early streets of poker play. Understanding continuation bets, understanding play between 15 and 30BB, and knowing when to steal blinds will go a long way to improving your winrate at poker tournaments.

2 Comments

  • Ivan says:

    Very good discussion on the differences between cEV (chip EV) and $EV, as I believe that these are concepts that are not by default understood by most new players, especially those with very limited tournament playing experience. It is a concept that entails a lot of different aspects, but it is good to at least have a minimum knowledge of the existence of this difference. It is obviously a first step towards deeper understanding of these concepts.

  • Ernesto says:

    Multi table tournaments are probably the most popular ways top lay poker.
    They offer an intense level of competition and the big prizes are the reason why a lot of players enjoy them.

    Online poker tournaments have become so popular that most big live events have satellites (qualifying tournaments) online. This is where the live and virtual worlds of poker meet and collaborate with each other.

    The main difference between online and live multi table tournaments is the fields. Most of the times, fields are larger online. On the biggest online poker rooms, especially on Sundays, you will easily find tourneys with fields of 1000+ players.

    Learning about multi table tournaments is about stack preservation or survival. The main objective in a multi table tournament is to last as much as possible to reach the money and then focus in reaching the final table. Taking care of your chips is crucial and this means not giving them away and when you have the chance to increase your stack do it as much as you can.

    Players shouldn’t risk much during the early stages and should play tighter. In the first blind levels of a tournament is where most inexperienced players lose the tournament. Playing position and only high value hands is recommended, because it will guarantee your survival to the late stages of the tournament.

    I like the concept in the article about no calling pre flop. I believe this is a sign of weakness at both tourneys and cash games. My philosophy is, if I have a hand I raise, if I don’t I fold. A player calling the blinds is one looking to build a game out of weak cards.

    In addition, to learn online poker tournaments, continuation bet is a concept required to get familiarized with. It is quite simple and has to do a lot with betting and aggression. A continuation bet will allow you to win a lot of hands on the flop. To summarize, if you raise before the flop a continuation bet is the one you do after the flop to defend your hand and initial investment.

    Make sure to read this section thoroughly and post your comments and questions to clarify your doubts!

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