Success in big poker tournaments
While some prefer to grind regularly at the cash game tables or play small tournaments, others prefer to try their luck and win at the big poker tournaments.
Especially online, all poker sites have many tournaments with more or less large guaranteed sums. Here, the poker site sets a certain amount for the prize pool, which is paid out regardless of the number of entrants.
Where is the easiest way to qualify for the big poker tournaments?
One problem with the really big poker tournaments is that the buy-in is usually relatively high. The poker tournaments with the high six-figure prize guarantees usually start with a buy-in of $100 or more. With fields starting at 500 players and going up to the mega events with 2000 players, of course you don’t make the money every time, and the buy-ins add up until you win something.
The solution is to play the cheap satellites. If you only have a bankroll of $200, you can play satellites for $5-10. The best satellites are offered by the following poker sites:
888 Poker – here the big tournaments are not quite as huge (the main event is a $250,000 tournament on Sundays), but the satellites are relatively easy for a savvy player to win. And the main tournament won’t have quite as many players either. A detailed review, info about the bonus and a download link for 888 Poker can be found here.
Pokerstars – there are undoubtedly the very biggest events there, with the Pokerstars Sunday Million being the highlight. The buy-in here is $215 and there are usually 6000 or more players playing. Satellites are also usually very large, but the advantage is that it is often enough to be among the last 10-15 players to get a seat in the Main Event. Here you can find our review of Pokerstars and the bonus link.
What is the best strategy to win big poker tournaments?
Of course, first and foremost, you need a lot of patience to compete against several thousand players. The most common mistake is to try to win big pots early and double up. It is better to gradually increase your stack with smaller pots.
The best strategy is to play a little looser in the beginning when the blinds are still low and the pot has not been raised. Suited connectors like 89 suited (same suit) are playable as long as you don’t have to bet a lot of chips. Of course, this doesn’t apply to raised pots – for that you need premium hands like AQsuited, big pairs like JJ or better.
Remember: the players who get ahead early rarely win the tournament. Pros build their stack slowly.
Tournament middle phase
Now the blinds are a bit higher and you should only play the good hands. If you’ve been watching the other players well, you can pick off a weak player here and there. As long as you have 20 x the big blind, there is no reason to play risky. Remember: you should only participate in a big pot if you have a big hand.
Tournament Bubble Phase
This is one of the most important phases of the tournament. In a tournament with 1500 players, if 300 players are paid out, then the bubble phase starts around the time when there are about 400-500 players left.
At this point, especially the players who have medium sized stacks usually play very cautiously. They are desperate to get into the money and very often fold when you raise aggressively against them. Be careful with the small and big stacks – they are usually more willing to take risks.
This is the phase where you can build your bankroll through aggressive steals, at the expense of players who are just looking to survive.
In this phase, it is important to pay close attention to how high you raise. The raise should be high enough to make the opponents fold. But you also have to be aware that your opponent may have a very strong hand and counter-raise aggressively. In that case, you should be able to retreat without costing too many chips.
After the Bubble
Now everyone is in the money, and now the middle stacks usually become very aggressive. They know they have to win a lot to keep up with the big stacks. At the final table you need enough ammunition, and even on the way there you better not fall back below 20 big blinds in the stack.
You should also play tight at this stage – a strong starting hand allows you to be more aggressive, and that’s very important in the final phase. Aggressive use of a strong position (from the button!) is important.
Once you’ve made it to this point, you’ve already secured a decent amount of money. Hopefully you have observed your opponents well beforehand (or perhaps used a statistics software). Write down your observations on a piece of paper.
If you feel you are among the better players, keep playing tight and aggressive. Only when you have chips below 10-15 big blinds do you need to take more risk.
However, if you feel that the other players are stronger and do not respect your raises, then you should play more risky. It doesn’t make sense to wait for strong cards like QQ, KK or AA, because there is a risk that the blinds and antes will bleed you dry. If you show weakness too often, the other players will take advantage of it – so it’s better to rely on your luck a bit.
There’s nothing like winning a large amount of money at a big poker tournament to allow you to enter the next 20 big tournaments without going broke.
Good luck at the tables!