Large multi-table tournaments offer the biggest challenges and the biggest prizes in the world of online poker. The challenge comes from fighting your way through a field of hundreds or even thousands of opponents in the hope of making the money or even reaching the final table. It can be a tremendous feat of endurance to play poker online through the hours or even days that large tournaments require. The prizes, of course, include cash and the personal satisfaction of proving your skill and making your name.
Today, the best online poker sites for US players offer many opportunities for players of every budget and skill level to engage in large-field tournaments. To make the most of them, you should know that they require a different strategic approach compared to regular online poker games.
We’ve collected some basic large field poker tournament tips to get you started. Read on!
Understanding online poker tournaments
The key to online poker tournament strategy is the size of your chip stake. When you sign up to play a tournament, you receive a certain number of chips in exchange for a fixed sum of cash. This goes towards the prize money, along with all the other participants’ cash. To win real money prizes, you have to be placed within the prize pool. It’s important to note that you cannot top up your chips and keep on playing. If you run out of chips, you’re out of the tournament. This has strategic implications. Unlike in cash games, winning individual pots isn’t especially important. What is important is to survive and outlast other players until you reach a paying position.
The early stages
During the early stages of online poker tournaments, the objective is simple: accumulate as many chips as possible in order to set yourself up for the later stages, when stack size is critical. That means it’s best to play “by the book.” Start off by focusing on the right starting poker hands to play. It may be fun to take risks and play weak hands in a one-off game just to see the flop and hope that something big will turn up on the board. This is a waste of money, chips, and time in a large field tournament. You may have to play for hours or even days before you make money.
Recommended starting hands include ace+ace–jack+jack, ace+king–ace+queen suited and ace+king unsuited if you’re seated in early position, ace+ace–10+10 and ace+king–ace+jack suited or unsuited for middle position and ace+ace–8+8 and ace+king–ace+10 suited or unsuited for late position. As tight as this approach may seem, it’ll help you to outlast opponents who play more loosely and are liable to bust out as a result. Other risky tactics to think twice about are bluffing big and slow playing hands. It’s also not worth risking your chips to steal the blinds, as they’re not enough money in the early stages.
The middle stage – entering the bubble
By the middle stages of a tournament, the blinds are bigger, and a great many players have left the field. Typically, most survivors will have average stacks, barring a few who have built a massive lead thanks to luck, skill, or both. That doesn’t mean it’s time to start playing aggressively, but you can open your hand range and selectively try to add the blinds to your stack. In addition to the hand ranges mentioned previously, you could add 10+10 and ace+jack–ace+10 for early position, 9+9 and ace+10–ace+9 for middle position, and 5+5–7+7 and ace+9–ace+8 for late position. Loosening your hand range can be especially helpful as you draw near the bubble.
Players tend to start playing more tightly when they’re almost in the money, often folding under pressure to not bust out, which creates opportunity. You could stay on the safe side and tighten up, but you could also start to raise and steal more blinds. If successful, this tactic will help you make it inside the bubble. Of course, players inside the bubble tend to play more loosely. To make it to the final table, you’ll want to choose your spots well, get your money in, and hope that the cards go your way.
The final table
If you make it to the final table, congratulations! It’s a tremendous achievement, especially in a tournament with a large field. Final table play is highly situational, so hopefully, you’ve picked up on some of your opponents’ habits and tells along the way. If you’ve managed to accumulate a large stack, you’ll want to apply as much pressure on your opponents as possible, so you can keep on stealing blinds, taking easy posts, and increasing your chip lead. Be careful of short-stacked opponents, though – they’ll be looking for ways to double up through you. If you’ve got an average stack, you may want to steer clear of the bigger stacks unless your hand is very good. You can also lean on the short stacks if your hand is high enough to go all the way. If you’re short-stacked yourself, it’s a reasonable gamble to push with almost any pair and two face cards.
Avoiding pressure and tilt
Two of the biggest obstacles to large field tournament success are pressure and tilt. Pressure is largely a function of your stack size at any given stage. If you follow our basic large field poker tournament tips, you should be able to conserve or even grow your stack and avoid coming under too much pressure. The important thing is to know how to apply pressure against short-stacked opponents in the later stages so that every decision they make is about money.
As for tilting, the best way to avoid a poor state of mind that can cause you costly mistakes such as playing the wrong hands or bluffing too much is to maintain discipline. If you find yourself starting to tilt in a large poker tournament, focus on the basics. Remind yourself what stage of the tournament you’re in and apply the relevant discipline.
Enjoy the best online poker opportunities at Borgata Online
Interested in testing your skills with large field poker tournaments? Register at Borgata Online for daily, weekly and seasonal multi-table tournaments catering to every kind of poker player, from beginner to veteran, as well as free rolls and Sit and Go tournaments. All the best online poker variants are here for you to enjoy, including Texas hold’em, Omaha and Seven Card Stud.
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