Poker Tournament Strategies

Many people get glued to the game of poker not because of the money it brings, but for the excitement and mind gaming involved in it. You need to apply a lot of psychological skills like bluffing and sandbagging while playing No-Limit Hold’em ring games. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you try these techniques on any player. You need to first understand your opponent and only then should you try these mind games. Otherwise, you might be very well fooled into thinking that you are the one who is fooling others, and at the end you fold with a flush.

All these mind games are advisable mostly when you are playing at higher stakes No-Limit games. They would not work much effectively in lower stake games, since the stress is a bit less and other players are concentrating on the play rather than the money they might lose. In lower-stake games, it is better that you wait for a good hand, raise appropriately, and grab the pot tactically. Mind game becomes more important when you start playing in higher stakes games, particularly if the stacks are very high.

As said before, mind games should be played only after analyzing your opponents carefully. Not all techniques work with all players. Someone said once, “You can fool somebody all the time and everybody for some time, but cannot fool everybody all the time.” So, it is important that you understand your opponents. You can categorize your opponents by the way they play their game and the patterns they exhibit.

Fish: These players will just play their hand. They will fold immediately if you bet big and they believe that they have a bad hand. They are not going to try to improve their hand. And if they have something big and you bet big, the, probably will call unless you go in for all-in. These players aren’t going to bluff much.

Tilting Players: These players are on tilt. They will probably bet all their chips. If you increase your bet vigorously, then, there is a chance that they might fold. So, just let them bet.

Weak-Tight: These players are in between Fish and Aggressive. They just play their hands but sometimes go for raising. They are not ready to lose chips on top pair unless they realize that you are bluffing too much. You can bluff these players frequently, but not so much so that they can tell when you are bluffing.

Hyper-Aggressive: If someone is constantly betting and raising even when the odds are high, that player can be called as aggressive player. Also, it is not easy to tell if they are bluffing of are crazy people. Even though such players can cause damage to your bankroll and pots, you can catch them with some strategy. You can test these players by raising, but don’t do this too often with an uncertain hand. Do give these players a hint by aggressively raising when you have a good hand. Then, you can trap these players.

The Sheriff: These players are much like Fish but know their game well and the only thing that probably can beat them is a bluff. Nevertheless, the chances of them calling are more if you raise constantly.

Tight/Aggressive: Players of this category are advanced players at the table. Nevertheless, their strength depends on how well they can understand their opponents and their strategies. Generally, you will see that these players are more interested in betting for the pot rather than calling.

This kind of players can be beaten by a variation of pace. Increase and decrease your betting pace and they will slowly fall into the trap. Surprise them occasionally slowing down the betting with a strong hand. Notice the change in their strategy with the change in your pace. Then you can beat them easily in the next rounds. It is better if you try all these mind games with Tight/Aggressive and Hyper-aggressive type players. All other types are more engrossed in their game and do not focus on other’s cards or minds. Some of them don’t even try to catch tells and bluffs.

Another important technique is betting. Do not bet by assessing the worth of your hand. Instead try to bet by understanding your opponent’s mind. For instance, if you go all-in with $500, then, all the players expect that you have a very strong hand. So, use this principle very rarely only when you completely understand your opponents.