The end of the poker game is the most important thing. No matter what happens before the end, it only matters who has the chips (and the check) at the end of the tournament. However, a solid strategy in the early stages of the game is essentially to entering the latter phases with enough chips to stand a chance. No matter what the play style, a player can get sufficiently lucky to enter the latter part of the tournament with a decent amount of chips, but the odds are that the more careful player will be much better off much more often.
Opening Game Strategy
The first thing that you can do to maximise your mid game stack size is to play conservatively. In the early stages of the game, it is not wise to play a good hand. You need to only play the great hands.
Position is also key at the early stages, because an early betting position is even more severely disadvantaged with a larger number of players in the game. For this reason it is best to err on the side of underestimating your hand. There is no great hurry to build your stack at this point, and it is better to play for a slow, steady increase. Don’t play hands that involved too much risk, and if the flop does not go your way, don’t hesitate to back out of the hand. There is no shame in folding before the turn (or at least there’s less then there is in playing through and losing big).
Typically, players that are short-stacked when the first player leaves the table will not be in the money places. This is not because it is particularly difficult to do so. It is more a matter of the players who find themselves in that position usually being a little too loose with their money in general.
Another thing to do during the early stages of the game is to evaluate your opponents. Later in the game, a little knowledge can go a long way in evaluating a bet. For this reason, it is sometimes necessary to “buy information.”
As a general rule, if you have already reached the final round and are relatively sure that you’re out-matched, it should be worth at least one or two blinds to find out whether or not you actually were. Pay attention to other players’ tells and facial expressions (this is the main defect of internet poker).
The purpose of your early game strategies should be simple: cautiously move into the game, pick up a few pots, and learn a little bit about your fellow players. Don’t get too loose with your money, because making it to the latter stages of the game is not the only thing you need to worry about. You want to enter the end game with a decent stack size.
Often, you can evaluate the skill level of the players at a table by their stack size. The players with short stacks are too loose (generally speaking), and the players with larger stacks are lucky (whether they are loose or skilled). The players with average stack sizes are either skilled or cautious.
After reading this, I hope that you’ll be one of them. To practice your poker strategy try any of our featured poker sites – the free games are great for learning new tricks.