Best Advice for Poker Tournament Beginners – Top Tips by Upswing Poker

advice for tournament beginners

3 minutes

Last Updated: December 1, 2023

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Tournament poker is the most popular poker format in existence, and for a good reason! Tournaments give you a chance to turn a modest buy-in into a massive, sometimes even life-changing, win.

Plus, they bring with them the kind of prestige that cash game players often don’t get to enjoy.

But, for any of this to happen, you first need to make some final tables and book some tournament wins. This article brings you some useful and actionable tips to incorporate into your strategy and significantly improve your results.

Antes Are Worth Fighting For

As the tournament gets deeper, antes are introduced. Whether it’s a big blind ante or every player at the table posts an ante at the start of the hand, this is extra money added to the pot, and it should influence your strategy.

You’ll have much more incentive to steal the pots as they become more valuable. Thus, once antes are introduced, you should start looking for more opportunities to raise first in and potentially win a nice chunk of chips uncontested.

Be Selective When Facing a C-bet After Defending

With antes entering the picture, you’ll also be more incentivized to defend your big blind, especially against smaller raises.

While this is a correct strategy, you need to be careful about what hands you decide to continue with on the flop.

choose your hands carefully

You shouldn’t blindly defend every time you connect with the board in any way. When you’re defending with weaker hands, you need to be ready to release some of them on the flop as well, even when you get a small piece.

This will help save you a lot of chips in the long run as it will protect you from going to turns and rivers with weak holdings, which is where pots get really big, and bets can seriously damage your stack.

Adjust Your Starting Ranges According to Your Stack Size

It’s important to understand how your strategy should change as your stack gets shorter. When you get in the 30 – 40 big blinds’ territory, you need to start making adjustments to your starting hands.

There are many different things you can do here, but these are some of the biggest ones:

  • Avoid small pocket pairs when facing a raise – these hands go down in value as your implied odds of hitting a set when you only have 30 big blinds are simply not there. So, you can’t really afford to go chasing sets.
  • Introduce more 3-bets with high cards – hands like KQ and AJ are great 3-bet candidates when you’re hovering around 40 big blinds as these hands can make strong top pairs and straights. They also block some of your opponent’s value range, which means you’ll get folds more often and win the pot without a fight.

Be Aware of the Bubble

The bubble is one of the most important stages in poker tournaments. When the bubble is looming, or there are significant pay jumps ahead, you should adjust your strategy accordingly:

  • If you’re on a short stack, play tight and wait for your opportunity
  • As a big stack, put pressure on your opponents

If you adopt this approach, you’ll end up cashing more often when navigating a short stack. By the same token, you’ll build up your big stack further by putting the chips to work and making life difficult for your opponents.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic and pick up some more useful tips for your games, definitely check out the Upswing Poker Lab.

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