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Poker Tournament Strategy

Tournament Poker Strategy Articles

Poker tournament strategy obviously has similarities to ring game strategy, but tournaments are also a different animal from "regular" games. They require different strategic and tactical thought, actions and preparation. Many of this site's Poker Strategy Articles and Rec.Gambling.Poker Posts address tournament topics, so don't just stop with the articles linked below, but for starters, here are some articles that focus specifically on tournament poker.

Tournament vs. Ring Game Strategy
Turn Turn Turn: Tournaments and ring games call for different strategies

Making Money Playing Tournament Poker
The wages of playing tournaments

Winning a Poker Tournament
The key thing to focus on

Risk Losing
To win a tournament, you must risk loss

Tournament Dealmaking
Let's Make a Deal: Monty Hall poker

Running Without the Ball
Making do, not making hands

Tournament End Games
Proper approach to end game of tournaments

Aggressive Short-Stack Play
Don't go quietly into the night at the end of tournaments

Proper Poker Pace
Fast enough to win, slow enough to finish

One-table Satellite Strategy
Sputnik poker

No Limit Hold'em Tournaments
Changing of the guard

The Fox and the Farmer
Chuck Thompson's classic article on Limit Hold'em tournament player styles

Seven Card Stud HiLo Tournament Strategy
Adaptation, not rigidity

HORSE Tournament Strategy
They key aspect of this type of mixed game tournament

Poker Tournament Structure Adjustments
Good players adapt to different structures

Man at the Top
We keep score via money, not endorphins

Tournament or Ring Game Specialists
Talented, limited players

Tournament Poker Hands
Win tournaments, not hands

Mental Poker
Tournament-specific thinking

World Poker Tour and the Maverick Syndrome
The World Poker Tour and Texas Holdem
How the TV program will affect the game

National Heads-Up Poker Championship
NBC's sixty-four player tournament

Best All-Around Player Awards
The effect of tournament best all-around prizes

Also see Poker tournaments at Pokerstars

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What are Poker Tournaments

Poker tournaments are structured competitions where players compete against each other to accumulate all the chips in play. In "normal" casino games, each hand is unrelated to any other. Players can quit whenever they want. In tournaments, players can not quit and cash out their chips. Play continues until there is a winner.

Poker TournamentsThere are different types of poker tournaments: "Elimination" or "freeze out" tournaments are the most common type. In this structure all players begin with the same amount of chips, and play continues until one player has accumulated all the chips. As players are eliminated, the active players are re-seated at fewer and fewer tables. While the winner of the tournament is the player who accumulates all the chips, the payout structure rewards several players. For example, if ninety-five players start a tournament, commonly the "final table" of nine players would receive prize money -- with eighth getting a larger prize than ninth, seventh getting more than eighth, etc.

"Rebuy tournaments" are structures where for an initial period of time, perhaps two hours, players who lose all their chips are allowed to "rebuy" more chips and continue to play. Rebuy tournaments generally feature more aggressive play earlier on as players do not face the prospect of elimination if they lose all their chips. Rebuys often lead to larger total prize pools being played for than would be standard for the initial entry cost.

In "shootout tournaments" tables are not combined as players are eliminated. Rather, each table plays down to a single winner. Then table winners proceed to a finals portion of the event. So, if a tournament starts with sixteen tables, the sixteen table winners then compete either in another shootout round or elimination style until there is a winner. Shootout tournaments normally last many hours less than elimination events.

"Satellites" are preliminary, "mini" tournaments. For example, prior to a tournament costing $1000 to enter, ten players each put up $100, with the winner advancing to the main event.

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