There are lots of metaphors about the game of poker. It’s been referred to as war: “hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” It’s been compared alive itself, with women being the rake (“Rounders”). It’s even drawn romantic comparisons: “Poker is nearly the same as sex, everyone thinks they’re the most effective, but most don’t have a clue what they’re doing” (Dutch Boyd). For my money, at the least as it pertains to poker tournaments, I think of boxing. Poker is nearly the same as a boxing match: you dance around early, trade some jabs, and land power punches as soon as your opponents tire in later rounds.
In the first stages, it’s exactly about sizing up your opponents. It’s like shadowboxing, conditioning yourself for the true action later. Sure, you’re still likely to bet a large hand when you have one, but you’re not likely to tire yourself out in the first going. You’re not trying to take any big risks, drop your guard, and suffer an earlier knockout. While it would be nice to score an earlier double-up, you’re not going to make any big moves to accomplish that goal. You’re also not likely to risk any large part of one’s stack with no hand greater than one pair, if you don’t hold AAs and push in pre-flop. To summarize: in the first stages of a tournament you’re not trying to bluff or even to risk too much of your stack without an enormous hand. You are able to speculate a bit in position with truly playable hands, but if you do not hit the flop big you’re finished with these hands. You ought to rarely bust out of a tournament early. Some pointers on early action:
Raise small amounts in early position and larger amounts in late position. You intend to build a bigger pot in position because it’s easier to generate income if you’re last to act. Conversely, you intend to minimize the size of the pot if you’re forced to play out of position.
Attempt to play all pairs from any position and most suited connectors in position, even if you need to call a standard raise to complete so ตารางมวย. Don’t fall in deep love with AK or AQ. You are able to speculate while the blinds are low, and you’re hoping to trap your opponent with a large hand. With deep-stacked play and small blinds, you can profit with your speculative hands in ways you can’t later on.
Don’t push draws aggressively or bet your complete stack with a single pair. You have no idea what your opponents may be holding with blinds this low. People might be calling relatively cheap raises with T2 offsuit and surprise you. Don’t build a large pot with no big hand.
As you progress in the tournament, you start your game. You start stealing blinds from middle and late position. In the late stages you’re either stealing the blinds once per orbit or you’re falling behind pretty rapidly. In addition you need to mix in certain re-raises to steal from the loose, aggressive big stacks that will start attacking the table. And you will see a minumum of one loose, aggressive big stack raising much too often to steal the blinds. It’s a tiny risk, but to really make the final table you’re going to own to rebel against these players at some point. Await an acceptable hand and a situation where it’s likely the loose player is merely raising in position, and push back. If you’re able to steal a standard raise along with the blinds you’ve won three rounds worth of blinds. That buys plenty of breathing room.
Finally, you launch the energy jabs. Towards the end, you’re either going big or going home. You don’t wish to count on the cards to determine your fate (that’s like trusting the whim of the judges’scorecards). You’ll need to gamble, and often it’ll be all-in pre-flop or fold if there isn’t many chips to work with. When you have a reasonably large stack, you obviously don’t wish to risk it all by moving in unnecessarily (the risk/reward is too poor). So, you’ll lower your usual raising to 2-2.5x the big blind to allow for cheaper steals and more flexibility. In the event that you raise a smaller amount (than all-in) and get called, you’re pushing on the flop with any made hand, solid draw, or if the flop is unlikely to own helped your opponent. You must maintain a large stack constantly or die trying. It’s worth taking big risks so you’ve the chips you’ll need to gamble: without having all-in.
This article extracted from Poker Tips that Pay: Expert Strategy Guide for Winning No Limit Texas Hold em (author Jonathan Gelling, Play to Pay Publishing).