If you want your piece of the online multi-table poker tournament pie you have to learn some skills first. Playing in tournaments is a lot different than playing against your buddies on Friday night. Tournament strategy is a vast area of poker that could never be explained in one article, but this will give you the basics and the chance to have a good tournament and win some money. If you really want to become a good tournament player you should read the two volumes of Harrington on Hol’dem by Dan Harrington.
The basics of tournament strategy is to play a tight style early and open up your aggression level as the blinds elevate and become a bigger portion of your stack size. A good plan is to try and maintain your stack size around the tournament average, increasing your aggression level if you dip below the stack average until you’re in a safe position again. Stay out of the action early on unless you’re dealt premium cards because blind levels are so low the pot size isn’t worth the risk of playing medium or lower strength hands.
Stack sizes play a huge role in tournament poker because the stack size of the opponent you’re in the hand with can make all the difference. If you’re in a hand against a player who has more chips than you, your tournament life would be on the line. You won’t have any chips left over if you go all-in and lose the hand. Try to limit your action against stacks that are lower than yours, and even if you lose the hand you’ll still be alive with a chance to come back.
If you manage to go deep into a multi-table tournament there are a couple of things to keep in mind. When play gets near the bubble you might want to stay out of the action until you make it to the money, especially if your chip stack is on the lower end. If you have a big chip stack at this time in the tournament it is a good time to take advantage of the other players and force the action. They’ll all be waiting to make it to the money, and you’ll be able to pick up a bunch of small pots uncontested for awhile.
If you get to the final table once again you want to check out the stack sizes of the other players. The differences in money finish are the biggest at the final table, so surviving as long as possible will make all the difference. If the blinds are cutting into your stack too much you’ll have to make a move for all your chips when you’re dealt two good cards and hope to double up your stack. But if there are players at the table with smaller stacks than yours, you should be conservative until they’re out or they double up their chips and weaken your position at the table. Balancing stack size with blind levels and aggression, and often a little bit of luck, will be what gets you deep in a multi-table tournament with the most consistency.