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The Poker Boom made playing poker tournaments sexy, and the majority of today’s poker players are tournament players or started their careers playing them. We were all newbies at one time and made the same classic mistakes we now see in most newbie players.

Fortunately, poker players in the modern era can benefit from the plethora of knowledge and experience from those that played the game in the past. Below are three poker tournament strategy tips that should help you go deeper in poker tournaments and put you in the position to make more final tables.

Spend More Time Studying Your Opponents Between Hands

Whether you play online poker tournaments or live ones, it is important to work on your reading ability. You need to start paying attention to each player at the table from the first hand and immediately start making notes on their play. What hands are the players showing down? How often do they C-bet? What range are they opening with? These questions and many more will help you formulate a strategy for these players.

Also, keep in mind that you need to stay aware to changing table conditions and to changes in the style of play of your opponents. Smart players will change gears many times during a tournament and you need to recognize when a player has decided to rock up or when they have started playing like a maniac.

Pay attention to special circumstances and how they impact table dynamics. Seat 1 just took a bad beat from Seat 6. Will Seat 1 now go on tilt or even rock up? Does Seat 6 try to take advantage of their recent good fortune or will they lay low for a few hands. Tracking the table dynamics will help you pick spots to make moves.

Avoid Massive Confrontations in Early Levels When Possible

In the early levels of poker tournaments, you need to limit the amount of times you’re putting your stack at risk. Unless you’re playing in an even with a poor structure, you’re starting stack will give you plenty of room to play where you shouldn’t be forced to make huge all-in decisions with your stack.

The early levels are where you want to keep the pot size small and only put your stack at risk when you have the best of it. These are the levels where you want to focus on steadily building your stack through solid play.

Start Blind Stealing When the Antes Kick In

In the early levels, there typically aren’t enough chips in the pot pre-flop to warrant blind stealing. Also, the blinds are so small that players will tend to play back more often. Once the antes kick in, things begin to change.

When the antes kick in, the blinds plus a round of antes really begins to cut into the shorter stacks at the table. This is the time where you want to start picking on the weaker and tighter players at the table with blind steals.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.