It takes a somewhat different skill set than playing straight up Texas Holdem for money. In a regular money game you can always buy in for another stack of chips. In a tournament when they are gone, you are out of the tournament. Right at the beginning of the tournament you are in a touchy spot. On the one hand you want to do everything that you can to build your chip stack. On the other you certainly don’t want to put what you have at risk.
There are lots of power in a big stack of chips. It puts you in the position of being able to bully other players out of the tournament. A short stacked player taking on the power of a big stack is an all or nothing play for him. But the Big Stack can relax and play out the hand sucking every chip out of the short stack. Win or loose he can’t be hurt that bad. He is still way above par.
You do yourself a disservice if you have a big stack and you do not batter the short stacked guys out of the tournament. Poker is not about mercy. Poker is about money.
Unfortunately there is no standard set for tournament payouts. You are going to have to read the rules of the tournament you want to play.
The Increasing Blind Structure
The blinds will increase as the tournament moves along. This makes it sure that the play will not go on forever and builds in a threat to the short stacked players. As the button moves around the table so do the Big and Small blinds. A short stacked player has to be aware of how many times he can afford to pay. If there is also an ante in the game, that has to be taken into consideration also.
Tournament Play Requires You To Adapt Rapidly To a New and Constantly Changing Situations.
You must be able to shift back and forth from aggressive to conservative play with the changing blinds, ante, and tables. You are going to meet new opponents at every table and will have to decide how to play them. You must, to win, be unpredictable. Start out as a conservative, tight fisted player. The after a half hour or so bust out the raise and reraise. The shift back to tight fisted on an unpredictable schedule. Make sure that your aggressive play exceeds your passive play by a large margin.
Near The End Of The Tournament
Drop any pretense of passive play. This is where a run of bad cards can kill you if your stack is not up to par. Calculating the odds should tell you that with the short stack you are not going to win the tournament. But you should hang on as long as you can for the bigger money. Focus.
If you notice that a player has gone into protective mode raise him when he is in the blinds. He won’t call unless he has a super hand and it odds on that he won’t It is 220 to 1 to get Ace/Ace dealt as with any pair and a whopping 331 to 1 to get A/K suited dealt. When you get to the final table it is not the best hands that win but the best poker player. You are going to win hands that you have no right to win if you do it right. Stealing pots is the ticket to the final table and it is the brass ring for wining at the final table.