While the internet is probably the best place to learn tournament strategy, some resources can lead you down the wrong path.
There are many online tournament myths that can cost you money in the long run, so we wanted to clear the sky and mention the most common misconceptions. While we can’t mention all of them, avoiding these myths will definitely help you have better results.
Only The Big Stack Can Play Aggressive
It is a common myth with many players new to tournament poker that you can play aggressively only if you have the biggest stack.
The truth is that each situation is different, and while it is correct that only the big stack can play aggressively in some cases where it is directly related to ICM calculations, this is not how the game is played for the most part.
Apart from the size of the stack, there are numerous other factors that you should consider before you decide if you should play aggressively or passively. Among others, these include position, the stage of the tournament, the level of other players, and pay structure.
Long story short, you should not town down on your aggression level just because you don’t have the biggest stack at the table.
You Should Not Call If you Have Less Than Ten BBs
Many resources will tell that you can only play a push-fold strategy when you have less than 10BB. However, this way of thinking is a bit outdated.
For example, one of the most common spots where it can be a good idea to call instead of going all in with 10 BB is when you are in the BB, and you need to put 1 BB in the pot to see the flop.
This is a viable strategy because many poker players use small open raise sizes in tournaments, resulting in the BB needing only around 20% equity to make a break-even call.
In these situations, calling in the BB will allow you to better realize equity as a short stack from out of position. By calling, you allow yourself to see the flop and gain additional information based on which you can donk all in if you hit your hand, let your opponent bet, or fold if you miss the flop.
You Should Not Be Afraid To Go All-In
Another common tournament poker myth is that if you have a short stack, you should double up as soon as you get a decent hand.
The logic behind this is that you have limited opportunities to make moves based on your holdings in online tournaments, so you should use every chance you get and not let a good hand go to waste.
That being said, you also need to pay attention to other stacks at the table and the payout structure. We mention this because there will be a lot of situations in which folding to ladder up will be a better move than going all in.
For example, if there are four players left in the tournament, one player with 30 BB, you with 10, and two players with 4BB, you will want to avoid going all in against the big stack even if you have a decent hand.
Your best option is to wait for one or both of the short stacks to bust out before you decide to make a move and try to double up.
You Need To Dominate A Tournament To Win
While it is nice to push over all other players at the table, winning a tournament does not require you to dominate it from the start to the end. In fact, trying to pursue this playstyle will cost you a lot of EV in the long run.
Tournament poker is a complex format that requires players to understand which action will bring them the most money in the long run.
This means that you will have to learn how to switch gears depending on factors such as the number of players in the tournament, the stack sizes at your table, your stack size, the skill level of your opponents, and game dynamics.
Depending on the above, good poker players can sometimes play more conservatively even when they have a big stack and play aggressively when they have a short stack if needed