Controlling the Early Stages of a Poker Tournament

Building MoneyIn the first section of this poker tournament strategy guide we looked at the basic principles you needed to know to be a successful tournament player and also the preparation required before a tournament starts.

The Tournament has now started and in this section we are going to cover the early stages of the Tournament.

What is the Early Stage?

The duration of the Early Stage will vary depending on the size and structure of tournament you enter. A Tournament with more entrants may have a longer early stage whereas a tournament with a fast blind structure may have a faster early stage. You will have to learn to judge when the tournament you are playing shifts from one stage to the next.

In general the Early stage encompasses the period when the blinds are relatively low compared to the average stack & your stack. As the blinds start to increase and they start to become a larger part of the average stack then strategy may need to change and we would move onto the Middle Stages which we will cover in the next section.

General Principles of Early Stage Strategy

During the Early Stages there is no rush to play, we have plenty of chips compared to the blinds and the only way that we are going to lose our stack quickly is by playing hands and having to put chips into the pot.

Remember what we have already discussed, you should be aiming for a Tight Aggressive strategy and this starts during the early stage of the tournament by being extremely selective over the hands that you play. Be very strict and make sure that everything that should go into the muck does so, don’t be tempted by pretty looking cards.

The whole philosophy of our early stage strategy is that we are not going to play many hands but when we do, boy… the other players better watch out, as we will most likely be ahead, or in a position to win a lot of chips. We will not be bluffing and we will be betting our good hands strongly.

The fact of the matter is that you won’t be able to play many hands and you will have to be very disciplined. Your goal is to win every single one of the pots you play, you really don’t have much margin for error. Playing very tight is the way to amass chips in the early stages, of course you need to get the cards to play and the other good players are playing the same way.

Being serious about tournament play means being serious about your starting hand selection. If you play with trash then you will bust out often and early. It takes a lot of luck to win a big tournament and you need to stack the odds in your favour from the very beginning.

To win a freezeout tournament you really don’t need to play many hands. You need your hands to hold up when playing big pots. Playing loose will just get you into a lot of hot water.

Select the first article from the section contents below to get started.

Section Contents: Controlling the Early Stages of a Poker Tournament

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