Entering your first major poker tournament is an intimidating experience against tough opposition. While the dreams of a big score dance in your head, the reality is most players bust early in large field events.
Play tight and selective
The most important tip is to play super tight early on. With a large starting stack and blinds still small, you don’t need to take big risks. Be highly selective with the hands you play:
- Stick to premium hands like big pocket pairs, AK, AQ, and KQ suited. Don’t play weak aces or mediocre cards.
- Fold speculative hands like small suited connectors that would require hitting a monster draw. You find better spots.
- Don’t call preflop raises without a premium hand. Re-raise or fold instead.
- Similarly, fold to large 3-bets instead of calling off a chunk of your stack with a marginal holding.
Avoid getting yourself into high-variance situations early in the tournament. There will be better spots to open up your bandarqplay once the field thins.
Play straightforward, limit bluffing
When you play a hand, bet straightforwardly for value. Don’t try to pull off crazy hero bluffs:
- Make strong top pair and overpair type hands and bet consistently for value. Don’t slowplay big hands.
- Fire big c-bets when you completely miss the flop. But don’t barrel off relentlessly without equity.
- Avoid huge semi-bluffs with draws unless you have tremendous fold equity. Likewise, check strong draws instead of overplaying them.
- Don’t try to pull big bluffs until you have read on opponents after seeing them showdown hands.
Value bet strong holdings. Follow solid poker fundamentals. Don’t get too fancy.
Focus on opponent tendencies
Speaking of opponent tendencies, pay close attention to patterns early on:
- Note which players are playing lots of hands or raising very wide. Target them mercilessly.
- Observe who is playing overly tight or passive. Isolate them when possible and punish their checking.
- Don’t bluff opponents by showing downlights or making hero calls. They can’t be bluffed.
- Attack weak, passive players by putting them to tough decisions with large bets and raises.
Profiling opponents early helps you find profitable situations against specific player types as the tournament progresses.
Don’t spew your stack with top pair
One of the biggest mistakes new tournament players make is stacking off with vulnerable top-pair hands:
- Just because you flop top pair doesn’t mean you need to get stacks in. Exercise caution.
- Consider stack sizes and the odds you are getting before calling all-ins against draws and overpairs.
- Don’t fall in love with an ace or king high-top pair. They are often dominated or vulnerable.
- Reevaluate one pair of hands on the turn and river as board textures change. Don’t call three streets with weak kickers.
Avoid spewing your whole stack on an early all-in spot without a strong kicker. It’s OK to let some hands go.