It is extremely hard to become a really good player of Single-Table Poker tournaments. There is a hell of a lot to learn and of course practice practice practice! In this article we try to give you some tips to get you started on the road of Single-Table poker tournaments but if you are interested there are many excellent books available which go into the subject in much more detail.
If you have the patience for it then I would always recommend playing standard Single-Table tournaments instead of speed tournaments.
Good players, of which you’ll be one, have a far greater advantage in a standard single-table tournament, and the reason for this is that so much of the play occurs after the flop where tactics and strategy really come into play. At a standard Single-table tournament the blinds rise slowly enough that you will stand a good chance of knocking out the weaker players before the poker tournament enters the lethal all-in or fold stage! In addition your stack will also be far more stable and suffer less from variance in a standard single-table poker tournament compared with a speed tournament. Because the stack is more stable it will become much more apparent who the good opposition are and who are the weaker players to be picked off.
Don’t be too eager to see the flop, especially in the beginning of the poker tournament.
It’s always good to be able to see the flop and by doing so complete a winning hand but in a Single-Table tournament the blinds tend to increase very quickly in comparison with your stack, a lot more than it would in a regular ring poker game. In complete contrast to a standard poker game have draw hands really isn’t to useful, especially in the earlier rounds of the tournament.
Don’t get nervy when the blinds get big
Towards the end of the tournament it is essential that you play aggressively if you are to have any chance of winning the whole poker tournament. This is where a lot of average players go wrong in that wait too long for the killer hand before betting. In actual fact in the latter stages you should be looking for every possible opportunity to steal the blinds because it is such a fantastic way of building up your stack without having to go to a showdown.
Try and get a really intimidating stack
This may sound blindingly obvious but it ties in very well with the previous point of trying to steal blinds in a poker tournament. It is virtually impossible to steal blinds if your stack is only slightly bigger than the big blind because one of the other players in a blinds position will almost certainly call you. This makes sense because they are already committed by paying the blind and therefore have pot odds on their side but also because poker players in a tournament just love to knock each other out as that is the whole point. To have a reasonable chance of stealing a blind your stack needs to be at least 3 times the size of the big blind and preferably nearer to 4 times as large. Having a stack this size is almost as crucial as having chips in the first place as being short stacked means you have to get good cards or be very very lucky. If your stack falls below this level then you really need to start taking some more risks and playing aggressively to get it back up to a decent level.
Pot Odds are incredibly important towards the end of the poker tournament
You shouldn’t expect to have any great advantage when you go all-in against an opponent in a single-table poker tournament. Having said that even if you just have a slight positive edge then you should call the opponent player. Let me illustrate this with an example. Lets say that you are seated in the big blind position with a 10,7 spades. The blinds are 200-400 and some player in a middle position goes all in for 950 which the other players fold to, should you make a call?
The answers is a huge resounding yes. By making the call you are only putting in an extra 550 chips in what now totals a very respectable pot of 2100. You therefore only need a 26.1% chance of winning to make this good pot odds and because your cards are suited and close to each other you easily have this. Even if your opponent was sitting with A K spades you would still have a chance of winning.
It is very important to know what probability of success each pocket card combination will give you in comparison to other hands pre-flop. Lets say that you have 2 high cards, A heart and K clubs, this will give you a 66% chance of success compared with 2 low cards like 6 spades 5 diamonds. A small pocket pair gives you roughly a 55% chance against 2 high cards so as you can see this kind of information is crucial for you to be able to make proper decisions.
It may be impossible to make reliable money out of high-stakes Single Table Tournaments
For the vast majority of players this really isn’t an issue, when I say high stakes here I am referring to games upwards of $200+$15. Most players never play in anything bigger than a $100+$9 buy in tournament. It is especially the high-roller speed Sit & Go’s which are tough to win money at. The first reason is fairly obvious and it is that at the high-stakes games you typically find very good players, a large proportion are professionals or at least very serious amateur players. To be able to have a consistent edge over these players is extremely difficult.
The second factor is that opposite to regular ring game there is no upper limit to how much a single table tournament will cost you! Players in a $5-$10 ring poker game pay virtually the same rake as players in a $50-$100 game because most online poker rooms cap the rake at $3.
This is not the case in poker tournaments where the rakes increase all the time. A player at a $200 St & Go tournament pay almost $15 in rake per tournament and players at at $500 poker tournament pay $30 each time they do a buy in.
If you add all these points together it is easy to see how it can be very expensive in a single table high stakes poker tournament!