Tips for Online Poker Tournaments

Playing in your first poker tournament online can be exciting. Who knows, it could be your first step to WSOP greatness. As you know, a few amateurs have won in this prestigious tournament after qualifying in online satellites. So here are a few tips for multi-table tourneys.

Before the tournament…

First, make sure that the poker tournament is really worth playing. If there are thousands of players competing for a small prize, it is not worth it. You might as well play in a play money ring game. An online poker tournament usually lasts several hours. Why invest all that time and energy for $10?

Second, make sure you have the time to complete the tournament. If you are busy or have other things to do, don't play. If you are distracted by other things, don't play. Play in a poker tournament only when you are relaxed and in the mood for it.

Third, relate the number of competitors to the number of winning positions. The more paying positions there are and the fewer players, the better. That increases your chances of cashing in.

During the tournament…

Realize that most players are going to be loose. Use this to your advantage. Rarely bluff in the early stage. This is the time to bet and play for the value. It is also the time to wait it out. Let the loosest players get eliminated first.

Later after the "first wave" has washed away most of the players, the tournament will change in tone. Some players will now play more aggressively, especially those in danger of being eliminated. If you played tight in the early stage, you should have at least a good stack now as well as a solid tight table image. Keep that up. But if you are one of those short-stacked, it is time to be more loose and aggressive.

In the closing stage, the tone of the poker tournament will change even more. Chip stack management, luck and bluffing become more important than the actual values of hands. If you have accumulated a large stack, your concern is to protect that from "do or die" players. Don't sweeten the pot for them preflop when they are likely to go all-in. Don't call with loose hands. You have the money. Why call when you don't need to? However you probably won't be able to fold for too long as the blinds are getting bigger and the table is getting shorter.

If you are short-stacked, be aggressive. Do not wait for good hands. This will be unpleasant for you if you are the rock type in ring games. You have to bet, bluff and go all-in with hands that you wouldn't dream of playing in a ring game. But that's part of the dynamics that make poker tournaments so different from ring games.