Online Poker Tournament Strategy

There are various formats of poker online, but one of the most exciting among them are the multi-table tournaments. The often attract hundreds and even thousands of players. As a result, you could end up winning insane prizes for just a small buy-in.

Online Poker Tournament Strategy

Online Poker Tournament Strategy

If you’re one of the players that dream of making that one big hit, you should probably know it doesn’t come easy. Tournaments require luck in the short term and are one of the formats with the highest variation. This means even proven players could have some nasty runs every once in a while. This shouldn’t discourage you, though, as tournaments can be highly profitable.

This article will give you some basic advice on how to build a successful Online Poker Tournament Strategy for multi-player tournaments. It’s based predominantly on two factors: the phase of the tournament and your stack. Those two will define your play most of the time.

Early Phase Of The Tournament

At the start of the tournaments, usually, each player has a large stack compared to the blind levels. It stays like that for at least an hour or two. Your main goal during this stage should be to identify the bad players and take advantage of their mistakes. This is crucial, as this is the stage of the multi-table tournament when there is still a lot of fish which means easy chips.

The first thing you need to do is pay attention and see how the first 10-15 hands develop. The bad players are usually easy to spot. They could be limping or calling too many raises preflop, chasing stupid draws, and so on. Simply put, they will be playing too many hands without a particular reason. As a result, they will slowly lose their stack most of the time and you should try to take advantage.

Depending on the particular mistakes the donks on the table make, there are a couple of different strategies. Against passive stations, you would prefer to isolate them in position and take advantage of their weak plays. If you’re facing loose-aggressive maniac, the best approach would be to patiently wait for a good hand and simply eliminate the opponent.

It’s crucial that you don’t take big risks in this early phase of the tournament. Remember, you can’t win it early, but you can lose it.

Middle Phase Of The Tournament

At some point, the average stack in the tournament will be somewhere in the 25-50 big blinds, but the bubble will still be far away. This is what we consider the middle phase. The most important thing about it is that the number of donks left is usually low and most people are somewhat scared because one hand could be the end of them. In general, the game is rather tight in this stage which provides some good opportunities depending on your stack:

Big stack

It is a bit relative, but if you have more than 35 big blinds in this stage and at least 10 more than the average stack, you are considered to be one of the big guys. This means most of the other players at the table could be eliminated if they go all-in against you.

This is the ideal situation for a couple of reasons. The obvious one is that you have a lot of chips, but more importantly, you have more freedom. You should try to be aggressive in such spots and take advantage of the fear among the rest of the table. Raise and reraise more pots and try to win lots of chips without a showdown. They are worth a lot and also, you will build an image that may pay out handsomely if you hit a monster at some point.

Middle Stack

Everything between 12 and 35 big blinds can be considered as a middle stack. You are not on the verge of elimination, but you are hardly comfortable. It’s a tricky place to be, as big stacks will try to put you under pressure. At the same time, small stacks might be taking risks against you because they have nothing to lose. You should try and counter the aggression of the big guys every now and then by reraising them. Of course, you should do that against people who are obviously trying to steal often, not just any big stack.

Against the smaller guys, you could try some adventurous plays as well, especially if they go all-in way too often. Calling them with ace-rag or even king-rag is not the worst idea in the world. Of course, always have in mind what’s the overall state of the table.

Short Stack

If you end up with 12 big blinds or less, you can’t really do much. Your target is to find a good spot or a good hand as soon as possible and push. The idea is to survive to a point when you double up and have something to work with.

Before The Money

There are plenty of different strategies around the Internet that are targeting the bubble. In reality, none of them is entirely wrong or right. Playing for the win and taking risks is important and often the correct strategy. However, taking it easy until you’re in the money is the better approach under certain circumstances.

The best advice we can give you is to try and figure out what the opponents are trying to achieve. If someone looks like folding till the bubble bursts, take full advantage and be aggressive. In case another opponent is playing aggressive and doesn’t really care about simply making the money, you could probably be more careful and avoid tough spots.

In The Money

Many people believe that reaching the money phase is the end of the road, in fact, it’s just the beginning. This won’t happen too often so you should be prepared to capitalize and fight for the win when it does come around. One of the most important things you need to know is that plenty of players will become somewhat reckless at this point. They have been waiting for a long time, their stack is almost gone and they reached their main target. You will see lots of light all-ins by short stacks and you should try to take advantage. Of course, there are still players trying to survive for as long as possible and identifying them correctly will give you the chance to be aggressive against them.


Obviously, a single article won’t make a favorite for the WSOP Main Event. However, it can show you the basic things you need to know when you take part in multi-table poker tournaments. As you can see, the environment changes all the time and you should be prepared to adapt. Be flexible, always follow the general state of the tournament and the table dynamics. These are your main factors when making a decision. With time and experience, you will learn how to make the most of it.

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