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Updated: July 26, 2023
best online poker tournament strategy

Best Online Poker Tournament Strategy you must know

A successful online poker tournament strategy involves numerous challenges. Today’s games are very different from a few years ago, and the MTT approach that worked in 2010 is ineffective today. Thus understanding the rules of poker won’t be enough.

During tournaments, two primary factors influence each game: To be the winner in a poker event, you must collect the maximum number of chips. However, you must keep your chips intact if you want to take all the other players’. As a result, the two primary goals of MTT play are chip accumulation and survival. Achieving these two goals might be challenging for many players, but following the tips in this article can help you succeed.

Due to the popularity of Texas Hold’em, most tournaments are played in this format. Take a deep breath, and let’s plunge into the realm of current tournament poker strategies that can help you triumph in 2022 and beyond!

Pre-tournament poker strategy

One cannot win without planning and engaging their brain cells in poker. Before you learn about the main strategy, here is what you should do before that

1. Adopt the winner mindset

Any strategy depends on one of the most important pillars: mindset. A winning mindset is not afraid of losing and takes a calculated risk. If you want to stick to the MTT for a longer period, your mindset is something you should start working on

2. Master the art of bluffing

Poker is a game of skill and time, and bluffing combines both. You can’t control your cards, but you can control what others believe. You’ll need to convince others to fold if you have a terrible hand. If you have good cards, keep calm. So, the pot grows, and you receive the most for your hand. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t bluff correctly at first.

3. Learn about ICM- “Independent Chip Model”

ICM (Independent Chip Model) is an acronym that denotes how chip values shift throughout a poker game or tournament. It is impossible to win the whole prize pool even if you have all the chips in play. Hence the value of a chip in a tournament decreases with time.

4. Learn about stack sizes

One of the major differences between tournament and cash game poker is that the blinds and antes (the chips that players must pay into the pot each hand before receiving their cards) expand at regular intervals in tournament poke. It results in faster action and bust-outs.

In tournament poker, knowing how to adapt your play according to how large or little your stack is to the blinds is critical. “Big blinds” and “M” are the two most frequent units for measuring stacks in tournaments. The large blind is easily computed by dividing your chip stack by the big blind (the “blind” wager that the player two to the left of the “dealer button” must place in each hand).

Related Post – 5 Poker Tips for Playing on the Bubble

Early Stage Poker Tournament Strategy

There are numerous similarities between MTTs and the early rounds of cash games, although playing an online poker tournament demands a different approach than playing cash games in general. There’s also a low ICM pressure since everyone has a long way to go before getting the money.

The beginning of an online poker tournament strategy is a good time to look for helpful advice. Start with a conservative hand selection. But you should start beating weak players as soon as you have labelled them. 

Labeling them as isolating their limps with a wide range, isolating their raises by 3betting in position, and raising more hands when they are in the blinds should all be part of your arsenal of plays during the early stages of an MTT. 

You want to maximize your post-flop pots with weak players since they are likely to make big blunders after the flop. It’s also a good idea to put pressure on the players who aren’t competing for pots, such as the tight, fit-or-fold types (until it’s obvious they have a monster hand and won’t fold!).

There are no antes in the early rounds of a poker tournament, so you don’t have to compete with the top poker players by 3-betting or shooting a turn or river barrel when you have weak hands like suited connectors. A weak player entering the pot is an opportunity for you to scoop up their chips quickly before someone else does. Even if you don’t want to run wild bluffs every time, you must consistently take advantage of these players’ evident flaws.

Middle Stage Poker Tournament Strategy

When an online poker tournament reaches the middle rounds, many things start to shift: As the tournament progresses, the pot becomes smaller, the antes get up, and the number of weaker players decreases. In freezeout events, players with large stacks are less likely to be eliminated. This is when you should focus on the following tactics:

1. Open your starting hand range  

Antes or Big Blind antes significantly alter the preflop maths since the presence of additional dead money in the pot reduces the success required for open raises to be +EV in chips. Since we need to raise the bar, let’s do it now!

2. Play the size of your stack instead of the number of cards you have

If your stack shrinks to less than 20 BB, it’s time to start hunting for a decent 3 bet-shove preflop location or a lucrative open-shove place again. Playing aggressively with a large stack allows you to beat other players with smaller stacks if the table circumstances allow you to do so.

3. As you get closer to the bubble, tighten your calling range.

Since you’re no longer only playing with chip EV when facing an all-in near the bubble, you may have to be more disciplined when folding your hand. The risk-reward ratio generally warrants 3bet or 4bet pushing wide, but not calling these shoves when you’re likely just slightly ahead or in a coinflip. The nature of tournament poker is that you’ll sometimes find yourself in a scenario where your opponent has Aces, and you have a better hand, but that’s just part of the game!

In the latter stages of a poker tournament, you will face the bulk of choices with a 10-25BB stack. Thus mastering this strategy is critical. Because of the risk of the stack bursting at this depth, you must exercise extreme caution!

The Late-stage MTT Strategy

The money bubble refers to the crucial moment you’re on the verge of being paid. This means that, naturally, the hands you could play might change, and in some instances, significantly. Non-linear chips in tournaments cause bubbles. The payouts vary. It might not be as bad if you had the shortest stack, but it’s a disaster if your opponent was trying to make money with a small stack.

Varying stacks clashing have different bubble extremes based on how near you are to winning and the size of the stacks around you. ICM determines the best strategy. This approach considers bubble variables. ICM and bubble factor knowledge help strong players win.

Final Table MTT Strategy

The final table is the ultimate test of your tournament poker abilities since ICM forces you to make uncomfortable folds you wouldn’t make otherwise. To win, you must be aggressive. You could grab a pay jump or two by waiting for premium hands, but you won’t have enough chips to go heads-up and win the trophy. In most table situations, play tight and employ timed aggressiveness to collect chips from inferior players. Never play too tight and passively.

If the lineup is difficult, you must take greater chances to avoid being run over. However, owing to ICM, you should fold hands in the top 10% unless you have a monster. When confronting preflop aggressiveness, you’re likely to be up against superior players who know they can’t fight back too much with high pay jumps. Players that 3bet/4bet-shove lightly will be picked up sometimes, giving you a pay jump. Avoid a major preflop confrontation unless you have a monster.

Shorter stacks than you should be pressured to fold (unless they are under 10BB). Even as modest favorites, they shouldn’t risk the event. Losing your stack at a final table with one huge stack and several little chips is terrible. In such circumstances, avoid confrontation.

Like other poker events, final tables need you to adjust to the table circumstances. Against tight fit-or-fold players, 3bet light. If numerous maniacs fight over every pot, you may have to intervene. Wait until you have a card advantage over their range before striking back.


Poker tournaments are a lot of fun and a lot of money, which is why the majority of recreational players enjoy them. Anyone willing to put in the time and effort can become a great poker player. You may become a tournament beast by improving your game, studying our poker tournament strategy advice, and analyzing your hand histories!


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