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Becoming A Better Tournament Player in 21 Days Part 1

Article By: RuffPoker.com

Improving your performance in online, no-limit Texas hold ‘em tournaments is something every player wants to do. We’ve come up with a 21-Day program that will teach you how to do exactly that.

Because they offer high rewards with a much smaller risk, no-limit Texas hold ‘em tournaments are some of the most popular poker games around. Combined with the fact that the annual World Series of Poker is televised and fills millions of poker players with the dream of one day winning it all, no-limit tournaments are the most highly-trafficked, most sought after games both online and in poker rooms around the world. If you’re intent on playing in these games, you will need to first come up with a strategy so you can learn to play better.

Luckily for you, we’ve come up with just such a 21-day plan you can use to improve your tournament skills. To use this plan, you’ll want to focus on one area at a time so as to ensure the lesson sinks in. During the course of the 21 days, try to play several tournaments with the lessons we teach in mind. Focus on applying them, and then add the new lessons once the old ones are second nature.

Days 1 – 7: Three Stages:

Learning to recognize the different periods of a tournament and why you need to adjust your play to each.

Days 8 – 14: All-In Discipline and Protecting Your Stack:

In a tournament you only get one life. We’ll show you how to protect your chips and stay in longer so you make it into the money.

Days 15 – 21: Getting Better Payoffs At the Final Table: O

nce you make it to a final table, the really big payouts only come if you reach the last 3 or 4 spots. To get there, you’ll need to follow our advice.


The first thing you need to learn as an online tournament player is that each tournament progresses in stages. Let’s say you are in a 1,000 player tournament where the top 200 players get paid. Depending on the structure, this tournament can last 4, 5, maybe even as long as 12 hours. To get to the money, you have to outlast 800 other players. And to do this, the first thing you need to recognize are the stages of the game.


The first part of a tournament is the time when you want to sit quietly, take down pots when you are sure of your hand and try to capitalize on an opportunity to double or triple-up against weak players. The key is tight play. And we mean tight, raising only with high-pairs (J+), A-K, or A-Q suited. Of course, depending on your position and the action before you, you can loosen up, but in general you want to take down pots you know you can win and watch for players who make bad calls. If you can get a great hand and push one of these weak players all-in, that is the ideal situation.


The middle part of a tournament generally starts once the blinds increase to $100 - $200 and ante’s first come into play. At this point the pots get large enough to justify a loose, more aggressive style. It’s now when you can try to start stealing pots, bullying smaller stacks and making semi-bluffs when you are in the right position or if the pot-odds justify it. In this middle stage you have generally cleared out the very loose players, while many of the tighter players are trying to make it into the money by waiting it out. Take advantage of this change in the player make-up by getting more aggressive and build your stack.


Once you get into the money, you’ll notice that a lot of players almost immediately start playing super-aggressive. You can almost hear the ‘click’ as they change styles. Take advantage of this by tightening up once again. For the first 20 or so hands after you reach the money, you should play defensively, stealing pots when you can or hammering someone with a big pair. As the weaker players start dropping off, you will reach the higher levels of the money and be ready to capitalize on an opportunity to put you at the final table.