Single table tournaments are plentiful online. Making a profit on the lower stakes tables is easier than you think. Understanding and adhering to the following concepts will improve your game dramatically.
- Patience, patience and more patience. This cannot be emphasized enough! Impatient players will exit the tournament early. You need to be disciplined and wait for your moments and not get frustrated when they aren't coming.
- Starting hands. During first to blind level you really want to play only premium hands. Refer to the link below on starting hands for more details. Here are some tendencies of bad players you must avoid.
- Playing an Ace with bad kicker (e.g. A8). Loses often to Ace with higher kicker
- Overplaying small pairs. If you don’t flop trips and over cards are showing, be very cautious.
- Playing cards only because they are suited. You can lose a lot of chips chasing a flush or be beaten by a higher flush.
Obviously as the game gets down to less players you have to play a wider selection of hands.
- Position. Many poor players are oblivious to the importance of position. If you don’t understand it.....you need to learn it. It basically refers to the fact that if you are last person to act in betting rounds after the flop, you have the big advantage of seeing the actions of all the players before you. The dealer button is the best position on the table.
- Aggression. Aggression is a key concept in poker. In a single table tournament, aggression should be based on the number of players at the table. On a full 10 person table, you should be very conservative. When down to 4-5 players your aggression should be average. When heads up you should be at your most aggressive.
- Bluffs. Many players think poker is all about bluffing. Bluffs should be attempted in moderation and ideally should be semi-bluffs where the next card can turn your hand into something a lot more powerful (e.g. a flush).
- Try not to bluff during beginning stage of the tournament. Don't bluff against more than 2 other players.
- Bluff more in the final stages of tournament. Semi-bluff with drawing hands such as flush and straight draws.
- Bluff good players, not bad players who call anything.
- Raises. Do not mini-raise! Make efficient and powerful raises. If someone is chasing a hand, you want to make them to pay for that! When raising pre-flop, raise at least to 3-4 times the BB amount, or 3-4 times the previous raise. When raising after the flop, your bet size is related to the pot size. Bet at least 50% and up to 100% the pot size.
Do not over-bet the pot, (e.g. all in for 2000 on a pot of 250).
- Stack size. You should be aware of the chip stack sizes of all players at the table, as this dictates much of there future plays. When your stack size is getting small compared to the blinds, you need to push all in with any 2 mediocre cards. It is important to be the first person entering the pot and raising. Hopefully you can win the blinds right there but if you don’t, you will still have a fighting chance with any 2 cards.
Be careful taking on small stacks and big stacks. Small stacks are waiting for any moment to go all in with any 2 decent cards or may call on pots odds alone if they are in the blinds. Big stacks are capable of knocking you out and bullying you around.
- Pot odds. Pot odds are a crucial concept involving simple mathematics. For example, if you have a straight or a flush draw on the flop, you should be prepared to call small raises from another player because you know you have approximately 1 in 3 chance of hitting your card by the river.
If you are raised too much, you should fold your hand and wait for a better opportunity.
Pot odds tell you whether you should be playing or not playing a hand based on the percentage of making and winning a hand.
- Observation. Whilst once cannot see the people they are playing online, there is still a lot of information available.
You should be taking notes mentally or even recording note of player’s behaviors and patterns. Who is the super aggressive player? Who is the super conservative player? Is the chip leader someone to be scared off or a luck box? It is also important to take note of players betting patterns.
- Winning. Finishing in the top 3 can be considered winning in terms of profit. This should be your first priority. Then you can focus on 1st place. Finishing 4th is the worst feeling in the world.
- Other tips:
- Chat Box: Can get very emotional sometimes. Don’t use it, but don't ignore it, people give a lot of free information away.
- Time of day: Games can be a lot looser at certain times of day. Late night US in weekend usually seem more profitable.
These are only some simple but important concepts. There is a wealth of information online and in various books. If you can keep all these concepts in mind while playing in tournaments, you will have significant advantage over others.