Advanced Multi-Table Tournament Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide


Advanced Multi-Table Tournament Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide


a pair of glasses on a computer keyboard reflecting a computer screen showing an online poker tournament in play, there are poker chips next to the keyboard and a red six-sided dice on the keyboard next to the glasses

Advanced Multi-Table Tournament Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide


an over-the-shoulder view of a person playing an online poker tournament on a computer in the dark

Want to add new layers of sophistication to your tournament strategy? In this article, you’ll discover how to take your MTT game to the next level. Whether you play poker online or in a brick-and-mortar venue, the advice in this guide will help to improve your results in multi-table poker tournaments.

Multi-Table Tournament Basics

As the name suggests, an MTT is a tournament involving multiple tables. Unlike cash games, tournament chips do not have a monetary value. If you lose them, you’re done — a fact that should have an impact on your overall strategy. 

Because the value of chips never changes in cash games, the aim is to make as many correct decisions as possible. Play when the odds are in your favor and try not to make mistakes. But in a tournament, one false move could mean you’re bust. So it’s often justifiable to make plays that would be considered incorrect in a cash game. 

Chip Stack Considerations

The main factor to consider when playing in MTTs is the size of your chip stack. How many chips you have in relation to other players, both at your table and in the wider tournament, dictates almost everything you do.

For instance, when you own a big stack, others will be more scared to take you on. After all, if they get it wrong, you’ll bust them. This means you can widen your betting and raising ranges to steal blinds and continue to grow your stack.

Strategy by Stack Size

two people shaking hands above a red poker table that has multi-colored poker chips stacked on it

Throughout an MTT, your stack size will fluctuate. As a result, so should your overall strategy. Take a look at how you should play according to your relative stack size.

Big Stack

Your goal with a big stack is to bully the weaker stacks by putting them under pressure. Don’t be reckless, as a more patient strategy will help retain your sizable stack. But you can definitely open with a wider range, 3-bet often and defend your blinds more frequently.

Average Stack

If you have around 20–50 big blinds, you’ve got a mid-sized stack. The main aim here is to identify weaker players to pick on and try to steal blinds and small pots. Accumulating more chips is key to success later in the event. Don’t take unnecessary risks, but don’t sit and wait for aces, either.

Short Stack

When you get to around 20 big blinds or lower, you’re getting short-stacked. With no wiggle room, you’ll be forced into shoving with any half-decent hand. This can actually be fun, as there’s little pressure and no complex decision-making. Pick your spot and hope to double up.

Independent Chip Model

A key concept to understand in tournaments is the Independent Chip Model (ICM.) This complex calculation tells you what you can expect to win at any moment during an MTT. It considers your chip stack in relation to other factors, including your opponents’ stacks, the payout structure and the total prize pool.

Without getting into too much detail, understanding ICM helps you make better decisions in certain spots, such as getting too close to the money bubble, for instance. There are many calculators to be found online to crunch the numbers for you when studying.

Different MTT Formats

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Multi-table tournaments come in several different flavors. Take a look at the main formats and how you should adjust your approach in each.


The most common land-based and online poker tournament setup is a freezeout. Players can only buy into the event once and everyone starts with the same stack. If you lose all of your chips, you’re out. The blind structure is configured to allow a decent amount of play.

Don’t go wild in the early stages. You can’t win the tournament in the first few levels, but you can certainly lose it. When the buy-in is small, the number of entrants can grow into the thousands, making for some huge prize pools. So you’ll need to gain experience navigating large fields in order to succeed.


The key feature of a rebuy tournament is that you can purchase another chip stack if eliminated. Some tournaments allow multiple re-entries, while others permit only a fixed number of bullets. Either way, the rebuy period will eventually close, switching to a freezeout.

If you have unlimited rebuys, you should be much more willing to gamble in the early stages. The aim should be to build as big of a stack as possible before entering the freezeout phase.


A shootout is essentially a number of single-table tournaments running in parallel, where the winners of each qualify for a final table. As such, your strategy in this type of event should be the same as your approach to STTs.


Turbo, Super Turbo or Hyper Turbo — whichever it is, these formats are all designed to create action and speed a tournament up. Players begin with smaller stacks than usual, with the blinds increasing at a much sharper rate. These structures were initially used in online poker tournaments. But these days, you can find plenty of live Turbo MTTs.

Your turbo poker MTT strategy should be to keep it tight early, looking to get into the middle stages with your stack intact. Then you can loosen up, looking for suitable situations in which to shove, putting pressure on small stacks while avoiding the big boys.

Deep Stack

These are basically the opposite of Turbos. The whole idea is to give people plenty of room to play by providing huge chip stacks. Blind structures are often slower too. More skilled players thrive in such tournaments, so pick your events wisely, as the standard is likely to be higher.

There is no need to rush in Deep Stack tournaments, so pick your spots carefully. The overall strategy is much more similar to a cash game than a standard MTT.


In this type of tournament, some or all of the participants have a bounty on their heads. If you’re able to knock them out, you’ll not only take their chips, but you’ll earn a cash reward.

Standard freezeout strategy should apply, but be aware that your pot odds change considerably when all-in against a player with a bounty. Also, jumping up the tournament pay ladder is less important as you can earn money from knocking players out. That should be your main focus.

Progressive Knockout

Progressive knockout poker tournaments, or PKOs, involve bounties too. However, the amount on your head grows as you eliminate opponents, making you an increasingly attractive target.

This means you’ll get much more action when playing a short stack, so adjust your hand selection accordingly. Don’t tighten up, as people will be coming for you with much weaker hands than usual. Simply widen your value betting range.

Enjoy MTTs at Borgata Online

Thanks to the tournament strategy tips in this guide, you should now be ready to take on all kinds of different MTTs. So register at Borgata Online today and enjoy a wide variety of tournaments with buy-ins to suit all bankrolls.