Sloppy and loose players can (potentially) rectify the flaws in their game and try a new approach. Wily tournament veterans are plugging through the early stages in accordance with whatever strategy has earned them numerous cashes in the past.
Young bucks and upstarts who haven't yet tasted a big win are anxious to test out their newly processed literature from books, blogs, videos, hieroglyphics and sky-writings that they've been reading since their last failed attempt.
Whatever category you fit into, you will find that there are many ways to approach the early stages of tournament poker and many types of player to personify. The list below represents my Top 5 favorite ways to kick start a big tournament. Feel free to replicate at your leisure.
5) The noob. If you're playing in a live tournament, try to make it seem like absolutely everything you're embarking on is like a space odyssey (minus the zero-gravity nausea and subsequent vomiting) and you have absolutely zero previous education in aeronautics, astrology or anything to do with space for that matter.
Even if you're a bad actor and have played hundreds of live tournaments in the past, if no one at your table knows you, you should try this move at least once in your playing career. Be as ridiculously clueless as possible. Post blinds out of position and put your chips in a rack if possible.
For bonus effect, periodically ask the dealer if they will let you split or double down. A card for reading poker hand rankings is the nuts here, the absolute nuts. Use it discreetly for added effect!
If no one at your table is privy to your tactics, your range of playable hands, in your opponents' view, will be the entire spectrum. This approach is only appropriate for those who have no issue with self-inflicted embarrassment.
4) The overthinker. Everything you do is extremely, unnecessarily serious.
Making it abundantly clear that you are a stickler for the rules and have unparalleled knowledge of the game will demonstrate that you are not to be outthought on any hand. Multilevel thinking is your go-to move and anyone who tries it against you shall perish miserably.
This player is the one who takes 45 seconds longer than everyone else to make a decision even when it's the first blind level. Getting under people's skin is imperative so long as it is within the rules so keep doing it.
This is perhaps the most annoying player to play against - I'd even prefer to sit against a loudmouth than this type of nit.
3) The hyperaggressive loudmouth. This is the player who, if found playing a contact sport, would take under six seconds to find a way to cheap-shot you as soon as the game starts.
Should you choose to don this persona for the day, you should start your charade even before seating arrangements have been made. The sooner you can start the better.
You must be sure to match your game style to your overt brashness at the table. Once you get a few people to notice, you will find that you can get called down by disgruntled opponents who would otherwise have folded. If you can hit a big hand, you will get paid!
2) Mr. Tight Is Right! This early tournament strategy has its pros and cons and is highly dependent on the structure of the tournament - namely the starting stack sizes and the time between blind increases.
For a well-structured big-stack tournament that caters to post-flop maneuvering, it is possible that being more patient and waiting for your spot is the optimal strategy.
Playing tight in the early stages also allows you to pick up additional information on your opponents without risking too much of your stack. It is very useful when you can protect your chips and gain information on your opposition at the same time.
A more reckless style could jeopardize this chance.
1) The Darwinian cherry-picker. To deftly execute this strategy you will either need prior information on some players at your table, or to utilize No. 2 above for at least a couple orbits. The purpose of this strategy is to accumulate a large early chip stack by preying on the weakest link at the table.
Once you spot who this player is (assuming there is one and it's not you) you need to be as relentless as those hyenas on the Discovery channel.
This may not be easy, as there will surely be other animals in the neighborhood trying to feast off the same bounty. Isolation raises and range expansion may be necessary to achieve the desired effect.
A word to the wise: proceed with caution because even a blind squirrel sometimes finds the nuts!
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