Multi-Table Poker Tournament Strategy

You can play multi-table poker tournaments (MTT’s) of different field sizes and buy-in levels in online poker rooms, 24 hours a day.

Here you’ll find information about basic multi-table tournament strategy and the different stages of the tournament.

The structure of the MTT prize pool

It is important that you learn how the prize pool in a multi-table online poker tournament is distributed. You also should know that said distribution has a big influence on your strategy to maximize your poker winnings in the long term. Besides, we’ll see the different stages of a poker tournament and the factors that affect your strategy in each stage.

In tournaments, prize distribution is ‘top heavy’ which means that the players who make it to the final table get to share up to the half of the total prizes. On the other hand, players who only reach the first paying spots generally win just twice their initial buy-in or less. The top three places of the final table even get a larger payout that the other players.

This affects the strategy of those players who want to maximize their winnings in the long term. An aggressive and positive play style will be rewarded in the different stages of a tournament and will have a chance to get to the final table. If you play passively during the later stages of the tournament you may get to the money positions, but when you do the math by the end of the month or year, this will not be enough.

Tournament strategy in the early stage

When you are in the early stages of a poker hold’em tournament the game is similar to cash games since, in general, the stack sizes are several times the size of the blinds. As a result, you’ll be able to bet on the flop, turn and river for several hands.

In order to manage ‘Deep Stacked’ play you need some adjustments such as favoring those hands that can turn out to be hidden monsters, including small pairs and suited connectors. You should avoid hands like Ace-Ten and King-Jack in this stage because they can be easily dominated.

During the first blind levels your strategy should be to steal as many chips as you can from weaker opponents. You should also avoid ‘gambles’ for all of your chips if you think that you’ll have time to show you have a skill advantage over a larger number of small pots.

During the early stages of MTTs it is often said that ‘you need to take the chips from the weak players before someone else does’. Think that in later stages it will be more difficult to get from stronger opponents.

General MTT strategy

You have to adjust your poker Texas Hold’em tournament strategy as the blinds and antes get bigger compared to the stacks because you’ll have to put more chips in the center to get to see the flop, this means that the value of the speculative hands you play in the early stages will decrease.

On the other hand, when you are the first player to enter the pot, the value of high cards will increase. Since you need to invest a lot of your chips to call a raise when you play in the middle stages, you should avoid it. Since your opponents will frequently be in the same situation, your raising requirements can be lighter than before, particularly when you are in late position.

Playing on the bubble

When we talk about the bubble we refer to the stage in a tournament in which only a few players have to be eliminated to reach the paying places. Stack sizes are the factor that mostly affect your strategy at this point, not only your stack size but also your opponents’.

If you get to the bubble with a large stack size you’ll have the chance to win several uncontested pots because your opponents will not tend to fight with your big stack since they are risking not getting to the money places. Avoid players with big stacks and really short stacks since they will probably call on you.

If you have a medium stack when you get to the bubble you can take advantage from the fact that bigger stacks will try to steal pots. If you got a strong holding and you suppose the big stack will raise lightly, you can have the expectation for a re-raise. Remember that your aim is to get to the final table and although you may get busted sometimes, doubling up could give you more chances of getting to it than just losing small in the money payout.

Once the bubble has burst, poker players will try to reach the final table by accumulating chips and they will loosen up. At this point, choose your spots with care and remember that you’d be better off being the raiser rather than the caller.

MTT final table strategy

At the final table stack sizes still matter but now the most important thing you have to take into account for your strategy is the payout structure and your opponents’ strategy related to this.

Suppose there is a really small stack in the table, the other players who hold medium stacks will probably realize the player is one big blind away from leaving the game and will play tighter trying not to go out before this player. This will allow you to enjoy good chances of winning chips without risking too much.

Playing aggressive and positive poker will take you far at this point of the poker tournament. The three final places pay proportionately more than the other places and you should pick fights against those players who seem to be looking to move up in the money. Avoid big and small stacks since medium stacks have more chances of folding at this point.

MTT strategy evaluation

To sum up, your tournament strategy should adjust to the different stages of a poker tournament. Besides, your aim in all poker tournaments should be getting to the final table. If for each time you are bust on the bubble you get to reach another final table, in the long run your profits will be better than that of the other players who play tighter to win more money.