Poker: Early in the Tournament

In tournament and SNG play, the prevailing wisdom is to play tight and aggressively in the early stages. For the most part, i would agree, although a loose table image can contribute to a huge chipstack. Note that I say ‘table image’ and that I don’t recommend loose play in the early stages. Early in the tournament, most people are too worried about being that first guy out to call any sort of raise (or even the big blind) with anything less than pocket jacks or maybe suited AT. This means that in this stage of play, a few small raises can be very advantageous.

Getting a raise is not that easy and doesn’t always lead to success as the tournament is quite long winded with many twists and turns as one wrong or clever move can turn the tables in the fraction of a second and so they are quite similar to DominoQQ.

Lets say you’re sitting in middle position and the big blind is $20, with each player starting with $1500, and there has been one call to the BB so far. This can be an optimal time to minraise and start bullying players around if you have anything that remotely represents a playable hand. In all likelihood, most (if not all) other players will fold, but you need to know what it means in the scenarios that they don’t.

  • If a player after you calls:

They could have something, so check the flop unless you make top pair or better and see how they play it. If they raise, you should probably get out unless you have some sort of over-pair or are on a straight/flush draw. In the latter 2 circumstances, only call bets that won’t kill your stack should you fold later on or lose on the showdown. Going for a reraise is risky, unless your overpair is excellent or you’re on the nut draw. If you do see the turn or river just play standard small ball poker.

  • A player reraises the minraise after you:

In this case you can either shove or fold. This early in the tournament, it is probably smarter to fold and lose the $40 than it is to lose more, unless your poclet cards are very good. If the pocket cards are strong, come back at him with a small raise, value betting the most money into the pot. They tend to fold. Your other option is to shove all in, which is to be exercised at your own discretion.

  • A player shoves all in:

Fold unless you have queens or better. Your opponents move has taught you something that is very important, they are not afraid to shove it in. If you were to fold and another player calls, you will know how this player bets depending on the strength of their hand, if they remain in the game, that is.

These are just a few things that can happen in the early phases of tournament play while sitting in early position. I am going to try to dedicate a decent amount of posts to how to play in different positions in different stages, but I decided that I would just start with middle position, where your bets have to be a bit more cautious which often causes consternation for a player in this situation.