Poker: Early Multi-table Tournament Strategy

Do you ever wonder why so many familiar faces are on final tables on television? Why so many professionals are able to get deep into multi-table tournaments and cash time and time again? They do it by building a big stack in the early stages of the tournament, when play can be controlled with a few simple strategies.

The basics of early stage multi-table tournament strategy are simple to follow, once you know what you should be doing. Keep these simple ideas in mind and you’ll find yourself going deeper in tournaments and compiling big stacks to play with.

First off you want to play a tight game and wait for good starting hands. Blinds are small so there’s no need to force the action and get into hands with mediocre starting cards, especially since there are eight other opponents being dealt in every hand. Look to limp into hands, or get in inexpensively, with small and medium pairs, or hands like A-J and K-Q. If you hit these hands in a big way (a set or two pair) you will have a good chance to double or triple through against someone who over plays top pair or an over-pair.

When you do get dealt a big pocket pair, it’s often a good play to check-raise these hands pre-flop. You’ll get more action on them than you would if you make an initial raise, and will be sitting in a dominant position if your opponent has top pair. Raise them for value pre-flop if you’re on the button or in the blind positions, as this play may be seen as a real estate raise and is more likely to get action.

These simple rules can help you amass a stack that will take you into the later stages of the tournament. Building a big stack early in a tournament is one thing, but holding on to those chips when the blinds start to elevate is another.