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MTT No Limit Hold'em Strategy

Poker Strategy for No Limit Hold'em MTT's

Multi table tournaments are one of the most lucrative ways to play poker. As seen on TV, players buy in for substantial amounts of dollars in hopes that they can grind their way to the final table where thousands, if not millions, of dollars can be won.

As great as these tournaments seem to be, what viewers or many newer MTT players do not seem to realize is the fact that these fields are generally pretty large, sometimes with well over 5,000 players, and that only the top 20% to 30% of the players are paid for their efforts. In case that does not stand out very clearly, 70% to 80% of those playing in these tournaments can play for several hours, if not days, only to walk away empty-handed.

Because of these large fields, it takes a different kind of strategy to do well in a MTT than one might employ in a cash game or even a single table tournament or sit n go. And to try to get those of you interested in playing in MTT's on the right track, we have provided some tips and strategies that should help you get through some of the early stages of these tournaments.

MTT Strategy - Starting Hands/Position

Multi table tournaments are going to require a different kind of strategy then single table tournaments or cash games because of the fact that so few get paid. So the focus in the beginning needs to be survival to make it into the money. Sure, many of you may be thinking that the real focus should be on winning the tournament. But it is important to keep in mind that you will cash more times than you will win these tournaments and cashes are what keeps money coming into your account, thus allowing you to play the next tournament.

So, with the focus on making it into the money, the first step to this is by playing A-B-C poker. Meaning, you will want to raise when you have a hand, fold when you do not, and play hands according to position. There is, of course, room for the occasional bluff or steal but the blinds are so small at early stages in the tournament that it is virtually pointless to take needless risks. Here are some hands we would recommend playing while in the early and middle stages of the tournament:

Early Position: AA-KK, AK,
Middle Position: AA-JJ, AK-AJ, KQ-K10
Late Position: AA-88, AK-A9, KQ-K9, Connectors/Suited

What needs to be taken from this is that "tight is right" when choosing hands as this will allow players the opportunity to have easier decisions on later streets. Just remember that survival is key and that every time you try to play less than par hands or play out of position you make the decisions more difficult for yourself which in the end can risk your tournament life.  

Pay Attention to Your Table - Not Your Surroundings

Tournaments can be very long and although it is easier to look around, read, listen to music, or browse the web, the bottom line is that it is very beneficial to you to pay attention to your opponents. You will be playing against these players for hours or days on end, so the more information you have on them the more chips you can attempt to save and/or accumulate. Be sure to pay attention whether you are in the hand or not and pay specific attention to betting habits, what cards your opponents play in what position, and what they show down. This is invaluable information all free, and all at your disposal.

Aside from paying attention to your opponents, be sure to pay attention to the tournament itself. Things like levels, antes, and average chips stacks are important things to know and can affect many of the decisions you make.

Patience is Key in MTT's

Although this is important through all stages of the tournament and not just early stages, players will have a much harder time in the early stages because of the lack of action due to everyone playing tight and the blinds being so low. But what will make the biggest difference between you and someone who decides not to be as patient is that often times you will last much longer in tournaments.

There is no reason to play just because you're bored and want some action. The hands will come and you will want to have all the chips possible when they do. Being impatient tends to lead to losing bits and pieces of your stack.

MTT Bankroll Management

Although it may not seem like a player's bankroll has a direct affect to how they approach and play a multi table tournament, the truth of the matter is, is that it can. If a player buys into a tournament with all the money that they have in their bankroll, they will be playing 'scared' poker which disables them from making rational decisions based on their opponents, their cards, and odds.

A good rule of thumb is for players to have from 20 to 40 times the amount of the buy-in in their bankroll. This will ensure that players can face a loss without substantial damage to their bankroll which should allow them to focus and play their "A" game. By playing in tournaments that are above your limits, you really are just placing a cap on yourself.

To survive in the early stages of a multi table tournament, players need to ensure that they are playing basic and straightforward poker. By choosing the correct starting hands according to position, paying attention to the action at the table, and by being patient, players should expect to make it through the early stages of any multi table tournament and can then focus on employing strategies that will get them into the money and then hopefully to the final table.