Most players start online poker play with tournament play as their first poker experience. While cash games are great for a novice or even a novice to grasp the game just enough to lose their money, tournament play is a great way to add a little size to your bankroll as well as significantly increase your earnings per hour.
If you are relatively new to the game, I feel that jumping into cash games is a mistake waiting too long to begin your tournament play. I feel that the real reason you wait is because you are just waiting to get into the money. This thing is most often hears as “the reason you don’t get paid is because you just want to get into the money.”
While its true that you want to get into the money, you should be doing more than just hoping to get into the top few places. You should be taking full advantage of the reward structures to drive your win rate up. Much of that is due to the increasing blinds and antes in tournament play which forces you to play aggressively in post-flop rounds.
In Vodka138 games, you can often get into a situation where you are playing a tournament with a very aggressive player who is in the blinds. It is quiet often the poker player to act before him and he raises, sometimes going all in. This new player is very likely to have a good hand, but also understands that the blinds are making a trip in the hand. He is likely to be conservative in post-flop play, only making large raises with a good hand, or small raises with weak hands. The problem for the player in this case is that the blinds are getting so high that even if they are holding a good hand, they will not be paid off. This creates a very profitable situation for you as the player in the button. You can then raise via three bets and pick the pot up right there.
The same scenario occurs with a Sit N Go poker player who makes a small raise pre-flop. While the exact amount of raise used is up to you, a 9 or 10 dollar raise should result in a strong action from opponents. Also, note that you are giving yourself a little margin for error. If you miss the flop in a NL Hold’em game, and someone two bets you as a result, you can easily call that bet on the flop, and probably be paid off for your efforts.
Since small raises pre-flop often result in strong calls, you can use this to your advantage at the pot. You should call these raises with hands that have potential for big pots. The chances of hitting a monster are high in these small raise situations, and if you do not raise, you will be out of the tournament.
For example, you are playing a tournament with 200 blinds and an average chip stack of 10,000. You are on the button with AA. Under normal circumstances, you will always be a favorite to take the blinds. You are three bets away from doubling up and moving on to the next level. If an opponent three bets you, you can make a reasonable call with any cards. You may not win the hand, but you will end up out of the tournament. It is also possible to call three bets with lower hands, but you will be flat calling with your middle hands, and you will rarely hit loads.
The point is that you do not need mind games or using your poker calculator to decide what to do. You are simply paying attention to what the situation calls for and adjusting your strategy accordingly.
Sometimes you will need to play tight and be more selective. In other situations, you can play aggressively and take more chances. You are always looking for edge over your opponents. The idea is to always know when you are ahead, so you can make precise decisions and put yourself in the best position to win.