You will never win at the poker table unless you have a solid strategy for playing your hand. No matter how good a poker player you are, if you have no idea on how to play your hand you will always lose. Sure, you can slap a dollar amount on your chip stack to attempt to take down the pot, but if you do not know the strengths and weaknesses of your starting hand probabilities in a sit and go tournament you will lose.
There is no magic answer or strategy which will teach you how to play each and every hand in a no limit poker tournament. You will simply have to study and practice yourself, making sure that you are playing each and every hand in the best possible manner.
You first want to make sure that you are playing each and every hand in the best possible way. Many poker players lose a lot of money by playing too many hands and not playing enough of them. You don’t want to fall into the same trap as those players.
The first thing you want to do to learn how to play poker better is to learn which hands you are unbeatable with and which hands you are unable to play. I was working with a woman who played poker very well, raising in most cases the same as I do, except for three hands. She invented a problem for herself that became a self confessed weakness. Whenever she had a hand like K-J or A-A she would raise, which meant that she wasn’t playing a hand. Sometimes it was with just the top two pair. Very seldom was she correct. Almost never. However, when she raised with those hands the outcome was the same. She would win the hand, but not the tournament.
The hands which you can play and which you cannot are the most important part of your poker tournament strategy. The problem with many poker players is that they play way too many hands and are unable to define a hand before it is pushed to them. As a result they always seem to be playing an underdog, because they have a better hand than you do. Watch some internet poker games and you will see a pattern. The Dewavegas love players who play a lot of hands, so if you large bet, you will likely see a lot of high cards or two pair hands. Now the hands are getting into the middle, so they are not seeing many flops, but the low cards, two pair, trips, flushes and straights are easily available to you. If you see the flop, two pair, trips, flush, three of a kind and straights are common place, and not uncommon with high cards. What this move is about, spotting an opponent’s possible hands, is the first step in ‘ spotting an obvious hand ‘ and the second step in ‘ stealing the pot.
The style of play of a particular opponent is another key in poker tournaments. If you know a player calls/raises a lot, and he is strict and doesn’t let his opponents draw, he is probably a good opponent. If you know a player’s style is a lot loose and he is willing to call/raise quite often, and not reluctant to let the players draw, he is probably weaker than he is.
The fourth important guideline in tournaments is that it is not the extent of your stack that you go, it is the quality of your hand. If you shove with a mediocre hand in the hope to win a large pot, there is a good chance your hand will be higher. Having a lot of chips, even the best of them, is never a bad thing in poker tournaments. What you need to remember, though, is that your stack size has limits and your tolerance for risk is an important player attribute. For instance if you don’t have very much else to play with, a tournament is not the ideal place for you to hang out. If you reach the bubble, and even if you do not win, you don’t want to spend your last cent on something that will mean nothing but a lost opportunity.
Try to go for low level buy-in tournaments rather than the high level ones. The really high rollers don’t want to play against anyone who can actually afford to play with them. They will gladly play against anyone who can actually afford to play with them. In other words if you are a really high stakes player, you don’t want to play against people who can actually afford to play with you. You want to play against people who are prepared to literally throw their money away.
So if you want to win a poker tournament, you want to get as low as you can before you sit in. If you stay at the high stakes and let other players behind you, you will have less players behind you and a better chance of winning. If you push out the weaker players, you will win.