Small stakes online poker tournaments are a great way to spend an afternoon. You only had to pay a small amount to enter, and if you come in first place, you could walk away with thousands. One of the most challenging aspects of playing in a low stakes online tournament is the sheer amount of players that enter.
The field is typically populated with new players – players that are not in any sense professionals. This can lead to a very difficult first couple tables of the tournament. Amateurs will play reckless and randomly, often pushing all their chips in at the early stages of the tournament.
Navigating your way through these large fields can be especially tough. Amateurs will push all their chips into the middle of the table with raggedy hands, forcing you to test your luck when you have a great starting hand. You will occasionally suffer bad beats in these situations, instantly doubling up a player that isn’t nearly as skilled as you.
It takes a great poker tournament strategy to make it past the first couple minutes of a small stakes tournament. It takes an even better strategy to place in the money or win the whole thing.
Below you will find great tips for surviving a low stakes online tournament.
Prepare For The Long-Haul
If you make it to the end stages of a low stakes tournament, you will probably have been playing cards for 2 or 3 hours. Before the tournament starts, make sure you have everything you need with-in arms reach. Your phone, drink, snacks, and anything else you will need in this 3 hour period must be near your computer. You can’t afford getting up for distractions once the tournament has already began. Some of the bigger tournaments can actually last well over 12 hours!
Prepare For Ups and Downs
The variance is going to be greater than during a typical playing session. If you aren’t a working professional, online tournaments will likely be your longest play session. When someone plays for only an hour or two, they likely only do good or do bad. When you play for extended period of times, you are playing long enough to go through several dry spells and successful runs.
Resort to Fundamentals
Only use your intuition when you truly know and understand an opponent. This is more difficult online than in a brick-n-mortar game. Keep this in mind and stick to the fundamentals. Value betting, defending your blinds, and calling your button are things that you want to do. Don’t focus too much on advanced strategy when it comes to playing a person instead of the cards.
Pay Attention To The Betting
Don’t let someone limp to the nuts on the river. If they are merely calling every time it usually means they are chasing a hand. Don’t let them catch a hand; push them out by over betting the pot. Don’t let it be worth it for them to chase cards anymore. On the other hand, if someone has limped all the way to the river and raises the pots, then you know that he hit his hand. You have to be prepared to lay down some great hands in cases like this.
Don’t Worry About Giving Away Tells
This is especially true in tournaments that can have 5,000-10,000 players. You will probably never see the same player more than once. You may occasionally see a player twice. Play smart over playing balanced or mysterious. You won’t spend more than 20-30 minutes at each table. You won’t have time to learn much about your opponents, and they won’t have much time to learn about you.
Again, playing with the fundamentals in mind is the most important part in making it into the money during a low stakes online poker tournament.