Small Blinds and Deep Stack Poker Tournaments

When you look to sit in to a poker tournament there should be a few things on your mind to start off. Ideally, you want to win a poker tournament, but surviving in a poker tournament is just as important. At the early stages of a poker tournament you have to approach it as a long grind with no immediate end in sight. Setting short term goals will often time’s help you out a great deal and you should always try and be consistent early on in a poker tournament. If you start to play too aggressive early on in a tournament, you could spew away a ton of chips and leave yourself with almost nothing to fight back with. Fighting back from a short stack is very difficult, so there is no reason why you should want to start off a tournament with no chips to play with.

The first thing to look for when blinds are small, and you have a deep stack in a poker tournament is the player styles at your table. In live tournaments it is much easier to determine player styles mainly because the players at your table you can see in person. If a player is older they are most likely passive, and if a player is younger they are most likely aggressive. The playing styles should affect your initial reads on players, but also you have to look at what hands players are showing at the table. You should be able to determine a pre-flop hand range for someone in an instant when you see some of the hands that they are showing.

The raise sizes pre-flop early on in a poker tournament should be relative to what hand you have. If you have a hand like aces it might be alright to raise to 5 or 6 times the blind early on because you will get callers most of the time. Also, when you put in a bigger raise with a big pocket pair before the flop and you get three bet, you should just about lick your lips, and realize that you are going to play a monster pot right away. You don’t want to play monster pots pre-flop at the early levels of poker tournaments unless you have made hands. This is pretty common and has a basic reasoning behind it. If you play big pots early on then you will more or less be out of the tournament or have a ton of chips. This is ideal for some poker players, but it shouldn’t be for you. The idea of playing pots for your stack at the first level or two of a poker tournament is just horrible unless you have AA or flop the nuts. It is almost impossible to justify it otherwise. Poker tournaments are all about survival, and when you choose to play for stacks that early you are asking for trouble.

What you should look to do in order to have success early in a poker tournament is sit back and just waits for hands to come, and call some raises before the flop with middle suited connectors or small to middle pocket pairs. You should always be content with losing a small amount of chips if it means you could double your stack up if you hit the flop. There is no reason to not be content with the fact that deep stacked poker is easy to beat if you have some patience. If you play without patience you will not win or make deep runs in poker tournaments. Sometimes patience is the key to getting to the middle and later stages of a poker tournament, and if you don’t have that patience, you will not have success. Playing big pots out of position early in poker tournaments is also something that you should avoid at all costs. Doing this type of thing can land you on the rail before you even get comfortable. Building a stack should be goal number one and goal number two is maintaining your stack and surviving. If you set goals like being the chip leader, you will probably bust out of a tournament by overplaying a weak hand. The goals you set should all be conceivable and easy to accomplish with some discipline. After all, when blinds get big, the variance is higher, and you will have to be able to deal with swings later in tournaments as well as early.