Texas Holdem Tournaments – Getting Ahead Before The Game

You may enjoy playing poker online, but perhaps you want to improve your Texas Holdem tournament results. After playing the game for many years, I’ve developed a strategy guide for anyone looking to improve the chances of winning at the Texas Holdem (No Limit) Tournament game. These suggestions apply mostly to large multi-tables games with potentially hundreds or even thousands of players.

The Chance Factor for Texas Holdem

It is important for players to understand that no matter how good you are, Texas Holdem does involve some element of chance. The better you play and make good decisions, the more limited the downside. The best players in the world usually end up on the final table, but they too take bad beats. This proves it can happen to anyone.

The important thing to note when you lose is not the fact that you lost any particular poker game or hand, but to consider how you lost. If you were put out holding A5 having gone all-in against AK pre-flop then it’s safe to say you probably won’t make a final table.

On the other hand if you lost or regularly lose having the best hand at the point of all-in and are outdrawn, your chances of long-term success are considerably greater. There is no way I can promise a magic cure for your Texas Holdem ills, I can only point out a number of strategies you can employ to improve your chances.

At all times in an online poker game you need to be as observant as you would in a live game. Tells do exist when playing online poker they are just different in nature to a land based Holdem game. With online games, there are some immediate tells that you can point out, even before you begin the game.

Prior to the Tournament Start

With most Texas Holdem tournaments, you start with around 1500 in chips. The field against you will range from 10 to thousands of players. Your first step is to look at the player names on your table – those players who use their real name, those who use an amusing name, and those who use a nonsensical name.

When looking at such names, I categorize players in my mind in the following way (these categories change over time as the poker play develops):

1) Those operating under their own name are new players with a low level of skill.
2) Those using handles such as Holdem King, or Suckout Boy are average to good players.
3) The ones to watch are poker players with a name like gpgn5576tb.

I am cautious with players in the third category as they usually choose such a name so they are harder to be recognized. Such names are easily forgotten. I often find players like this multi-tabling for hours on end and you can’t be sure if you remember them from one day to the next.

Tournament Commences

It is important to watch the play as it unfolds – learn the feel of the table by observation and memory. In a very short space of time you should be able to classify players into one of four groups and play those groups in accordance with your expectations. Typically players fall into the following groups:

  1.  Loose Aggressive
  2.  Loose Passive
  3.  Tight Aggressive
  4.  Tight Passive

The most dangerous type of player, particularly for those of you who may be new to the game is the Loose Aggressive types who seem to bet anything and everything. These are the Gus Hanson style of players who play lots of pots and do so as though they have great hands. Clearly they don’t – statistically they will have the same hands as you so the key to moving against these players is to wait for good cards (JJ or higher), wait until they’ve dug a large enough hole by calling them down and re-raise on the turn or river.

Loose Passive players are those that are prepared to bet heavily and often but usually do so by calling whoever is doing the betting. Often termed a “calling station”.

Tight Aggressive applies to the majority of the poker playing population. These are people playing the cards they hold, rather than the players opposing them and the situation they find themselves in. It is very difficult for these players to win on a long term basis because really good cards seldom come out, and when they do people will run for cover perceiving you to be a ‘rock”.

Tight Passive Holdem players are the worst of the bunch. They seldom play and when they do they can often be pushed off the best hand by other players.

Each of these types of player requires a different approach to play. Poker is an assessment of multiple situations, each different, where the long term winner will be those who make the best decisions. Each play is therefore less about your starting cards and more about the type of player opposing you, the situation at that moment in time, or the probability of “outs.”

So bear in mind that there mare many things to be aware of when starting out. As we have seen in Texas Holdem there are players of varied skill levels but also remember that chance plays a part too. And sometimes, luck isn’t always on your side. However, if you follow these guidelines you will minimize your mistakes and maximize your possibility of winning.

Graham Easton is the Webmaster at http://www.texashold-empoker.com. He has a track record in large No Limit Texas Holdem Poker Tournaments including three runner-up finishes out of ten attempts in the last six months, two of which came against fields in excess of 1400.

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