Playing Position in Live Tournaments

There are two ways to approach building a big stack in a poker tournament. You can either always play on the attack and a wide variety of hands, or you can pick your spots and play hands in position. Playing hands in position is something you should always look to do as it will allow you to win pots without showing your cards as well as exploit the bad players. If you find yourself sitting with a number of good players to your left you may not want to raise their blinds as frequently. If you raise their blinds more frequently, you will find that you will not build a stack and you will in return not accumulate a big stack. If you want to build a stack you have to play hands in position, but that isn’t to say that you should play your button every single time. If you don’t have hands that can hit flops big and be disguised it is not so much worth it to put in that raise before the flop. The risk and reward is greater when dealing with players who like to three bet you before the flop. If you are attacking a weak player blinds however you will find a greater chance of doubling up because eventually they will become fed up with you, and start moving all-in. This is when you can have a big stack in a poker tournament and it is the ideal opportunity for you.

Sometimes early on in poker tournaments you will not see many hands to play, and you also may not need to play too many pots really early on when blinds are small and stack sizes are very deep. When you really want to play pots in position is later on in tournaments because the amount you can take down is greater before the flop. The risk reward factor is much greater later on in poker tournaments, but putting in raises before the flop is essential to maintain an image at the poker table. Working on your image and how players will view you throughout a poker tournament is something you always want to keep in the back of your mind. If you play every button and never fold, players will assume that you are going to continue to do so, but if you fold a lot of hands before the flop, you will in return get more respect when you play pots. If you play too passive you will never get action and never get a big stack unless you cooler someone at the table, so this is not an ideal situation. You want a mix of passive and aggressive play and an unpredictability about you that sets you apart from the other players at the table. When players fear playing pots with you, then you have gained the upper hand and you will have an easier time accumulating a lot of chips.

In poker tournaments you want the unpredictable factor to be you at all times. If you become predictable and players can figure out that you are only playing premium cards you will not advance in a poker tournament unless you run well. This should not be your strategy in a poker tournament simply because players will look to catch hands or fold against you, and eventually when they do catch a hand you are out of the tournament. Building up your stack with a level of consistency can amount from a number of things such as pre-flop aggression or your three betting frequency. If you look to play hands only when you three bet before the flop there is a level of consistency that only you will know and that is how it should be. If you are in position with a hand like AK suited you should always three bet an opening raise before the flop generally because a player will just call, fold, or four bet. If they are four betting your guard should be up, but it doesn’t mean that AK isn’t the best hand before the flop. If an ace hits the flop they could easily hold AJ or AQ and you will win a large pot. When you three bet before the flop it is almost always best to do so in position mainly because if you do get action, you will have the pot checked to you, or you will have an easy decision if a player stacks all their chips off to you.