Six Tips for Online Poker Tournament Newbies

Online poker tournaments can be uniquely appealing for a variety of reasons.  For beginners, tournaments are a great way of learning how to play without having to put too much money on the line. As for experts, those who master online poker tournaments have the potential to take home pretty spectacular cash prizes.

Still, those getting into poker tournaments as newcomers need to acknowledge the fact that they are very different from normal play. Which in turn means that the approach you take (if you want to be successful) also needs to be somewhat different. The same rules may apply, but in terms of the strategy you adopt, there are a fair few entirely unique traits to online poker tournaments.

Just as is the case with online poker in general, it’s not as if you can see your opponents face to face. Which in turn means that there is zero opportunity for picking up on any kinds of personal tells or body language. Not that these are the kinds of things that are of great value to newcomers at the best of times.

But in terms of the kinds of tips and guidelines that anyone getting into online poker tournaments could do with reading into, the following six examples are perhaps the most important of all:

1. Keep Your Stack Healthy

First and foremost, not to mention rather obviously, you need to focus on keeping your stack healthy at all times. What’s important to remember is that the value of your chips will change significantly as the tournament progresses.  At the beginning, you have plenty of chips and the blinds are at their lowest, meaning you are technically pretty rich. As things go on, everything heads in the opposite direction. Which in turn means that rather than simply focusing on annihilating your opponents and dominating the competition, it pays to focus proactively on your own stack. Keep your own stack at a healthy level throughout the game and you should get pretty far quite naturally.

2. Poker Tournaments Are Like Holidays

How exactly? Well, because when you first arrive on holiday with 100% of your pocket money ready to burn, you can and do blow it on anything and everything. But as things progress, you find yourself having to be far more strategic and careful with your expenses. And it’s exactly the same with poker tournaments. Early on in the game, you find yourself with plenty of spare cash/chips and the ability to enter into as many potentially foolhardy bets as you like.  The reason being that you have a solid enough safety net, should you be unsuccessful. Nevertheless, this is the kind of approach that increases the likelihood of you completely blowing your budget and ending up completely stuck for options further into the tournament.

3. Patience is a Virtue

You may find that in order to succeed, you have to go completely against everything your instincts tell you. The beginning of any tournament is exactly when you will find yourself compelled to get caught up in big confrontations and put huge chunks of your stack at risk. However, the best advice is to play relatively tight during the first levels and begin to loosen things up as you progress. The simple fact of the matter is that rushing things is completely unnecessary and only ever results in beginners burning out before their time.  Let things play out in the initial stages by playing cautiously, before moving on to more elaborate and daring strategies later on.

4. Don’t Blow It on the Bubble

If you are not familiar with the terminology, the ‘bubble’ refers to the point of the tournament where you suddenly find yourself just a few players away from taking home a prize. Without any shadow of doubt, this is the most exciting and enjoyable part of any poker tournament. Nevertheless, it’s also the time during which you are most likely to make the worst possible decisions, due to the heightened emotion of it all. You play for hours, you make every perfect move along the way and then blow it at the last minute on a completely inadvisable bet. The key to success being to understand and acknowledge the bubble for what it is and not get caught up in the moment.

5. Don’t Wait Too Long

As the tournament progresses and players begin to drop out, the value of any decent hand steadily increases. Or to put it another way, the fewer opponents you are facing, the less likely it is that your hand will be beaten. At least, statistically speaking. It’s for this reason that it isn’t in your best interests to play devastatingly cautiously and frugally in the later stages of the game. Not only this, but if you insist on waiting for two-dozen hands to play out before being willing to join the action, you will have inevitably forfeited a dangerous amount of money on the blinds. A certain amount of caution is of course common sense – getting carried away will only stunt your progress.

6. Beware Bum Deals

Last but not least, it is surprisingly common for the final few players at the table toward the end of a poker tournament to discuss the option of splitting the prize money. The idea being that rather than allowing fate to smile on some and short-change others, everybody gets a fair share of what’s left. Unfortunately, it can also be a rather ruthless tactic used by experienced poker players to rip-off newcomers. It’s a common strategy – an experienced player suggests a deal which sees less experienced players being offered a cut that in no way represents the strength of their chip stack. But given the fact that they would rather win something than nothing, they often take it anyway. The thing to remember is this – why would an experienced poker player suggest splitting the prize money if they had any confidence whatsoever in the likelihood of their success? More often than not, these kinds of deals are only offered when one or more players have already accepted the fact that they are probably going to lose.

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