Tips on Navigating Large Online Poker Tournaments


Tips on Navigating Large Online Poker Tournaments


Poker Tournament neon sign vector.

Tips on Navigating Large Online Poker Tournaments


Poker Tournament neon sign vector.

Large poker tournaments offer the biggest challenges, and therefore the biggest prizes, in the world of online poker. The challenge and reward come from fighting your way through a field of hundreds or even thousands of opponents in the hope of making the prize 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 (unlike slot tournaments, which are pure luck) and growing your reputation. 

Today, the best online poker sites for U.S. 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. 

Here are some of the best online poker tips for large tournament play to get you started. 

Understanding Online Poker Tournaments

A focused man looking at his laptop screen with headphones on.

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. 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. 

This is even more important to remember since you can’t top up your chips and keep on playing. If you run out of chips, you’re out of the tournament. This has strategic implications on how you play, so you need to ensure you have the best tips to help you win tournaments more often.

Here’s how you approach each stage of a large poker tournament.

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. But this could risk your money, chips, and time in a large field tournament. This isn’t saying it won’t pay off, with some players swearing by aggressive play early on when you are most likely to be able to find lots of fish (weak players), but it could end up backfiring if you underestimate your opponents.

These are recommended starting hands depending on where you’re seated:

  • Early Position: ace+ace–jack+jack, ace+king–ace+queen suited, and ace+king unsuited.
  • Middle Position: ace+ace–10+10 and ace+king–ace+jack suited or unsuited.
  • Late Position: ace+ace–8+8 and ace+king–ace+10, suited or unsuited.

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 worth enough in the early stages.

The Middle Stage: Entering the Bubble

By the middle stages of a tournament, the blinds are bigger, and 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 the following.

  • Early Position: 10+10 and ace+jack–ace+10.
  • Middle Position: 9+9 and ace+10–ace+9.
  • Late Position: 5+5–7+7 and ace+9–ace+8.

There could also be an opportunity to try and take advantage of small-stack players who have made it to this point in the game, as they’ll still want to save their chips to try and make it into the money. On the other hand, if there are players who have already built up large stacks, play it safe and avoid getting into battles of attrition with them.

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 not to 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 and build your stacks, particularly if you’re already sitting on large stacks. 

The Bubble Stage

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 the cards go your way.

The Final Table

Congratulations if you make it to the final table. 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 and are more likely to take some risks at this point in the tournament. 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.

A group of players sitting around a poker table about to start the game.

Avoiding Pressure and Tilt

Two of the biggest obstacles to large field tournament success are pressure and tilt (which is something you want to avoid in other online casino games as well). 

Pressure is largely a function of your stack size at any given stage. If you follow the 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, maintaining discipline is the best way to avoid a poor state of mind that can cause costly mistakes such as playing the wrong hands or bluffing too much. If you find yourself starting to tilt in a large poker tournament, focus on the basics. Remind yourself what tournament stage 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? Borgata Online has daily tournaments, weekly tournaments, and seasonal 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. If you’re a serious poker player, Borgata Online offers the best live casino poker tournament experience online.

And if you’re looking for some fun outside the virtual poker room, you’re welcome to explore the online casino, with its broad range of premium video slots, casino table games, variety games, and live dealer casino games.

Register at Borgata Online to join in all the gambling action.