Poker tournament strategy tips and tricks to be the ultimate online poker freak of nature

So you’ve decided to put yourself forward for a proper poker tournament? Playing (and hopefully winning) online poker tournaments can be a thrilling challenge, but before you jump in, you need to realise that playing at a tournament requires a different kind of strategy from playing a normal game. Here we’ll discuss online poker strategy and poker tournament tactics that will help you fluorish in a tournament environment.

Before You Start

There are a few things to bear in mind before you even start a tournament. First, time constraints: online poker tournaments normally take a few hours, so don’t start unless you know you have time to go all the way until the end.

Also make sure that the potential rewards of winning are enough to make up for the amount of time and effort that you have spent playing the game. If you play for several hours, finish in fourth place and win £5 for doing so, your time probably could have been used more profitably elsewhere.

Finally, realise that your odds of actually winning the tournament are pretty slim. Don’t go in expecting to win, and don’t go in as a last ditch to try and correct your bank balance. Bear in mind however that tournaments are also a matter of endurance; most of the players will probably drop out before the end, so you need to have some staying power if you actually want to cash out.

The Beginning

Like a good story, a poker tournament can generally be split into the beginning, the middle and the end. At the beginning, take the time to try and figure out who you’re up against. You need to figure out who the stronger and weaker players are as soon as possible so you know who to push against and who to avoid.

The beginning is also the perfect time to have a bit of a feel around and try and get used to how the game is flowing. Blinds are low early on, and most of the players still have most of their chips remaining, so they’ve little incentive to be especially risk averse. This means you can get away with being a bit more speculative; you can try playing some weaker hands as long as you only bet a small amount.

It’s very important not to go overboard in the first stage though. A poker tournament is not won until the end, but it can be lost at the beginning. If you’ve doubled your chips in the first hour, that’s generally a sign you’re on a winning course.

The Middle

When the one hour mark arrives, you will often see a miniature explosion of activity for a short time. This happens because players who have not done well in the first hour are making a last ditch attempt to salvage themselves before dropping out, and also because some players have a second tournament lined up that they want to switch to. Play tightly during this frenzy and wait for the storm to pass.

You’ll want to stay reasonably tight from now on. By the time the middle of the tournament comes, most people’s stack will have dwindled considerably. Coupled with the increase in the size of the blinds, this is a good time to stop taking big risks. Fold unless you have a strong hand and don’t push too hard against aggressive players.

The middle is also a time when you can take advantage of the players whose stacks have dwindled most. If your stack is a good size above the average, it will be quite easy for you to push these low stack players into folding.

As you exit the middle portion of the game, you reach the most frantic and dangerous point. This is where most of the remaining players will ditch the game, as this with low stacks make a desperate and futile effort to try and stay in. Don’t be one of them. Be a tight but aggressive player with a good size stack and use your leverage to push them out of the game.

The End

At this final stage, all-in confrontations become very frequent, and you will need to be in on them. If your stack has dwindled, you can no longer afford to be tight; you need to go all-in and hope that you come out the other side in one piece. This stage is not for the faint of heart. Hopefully, you will be one of the last players standing when it’s all over. Studying these poker tips closely should help you get there.

The best variants of Poker games for the avid Poker freak

As soon as you start to get into it, you realise that there isn’t really a game called “poker”. Poker is a bunch of different games with quite different rules. When you go to play online poker, you need to know which games are worth investing your time in. Here, we discuss the best kinds of poker for the avid player to try.

Texas Holdem

Texas Holdem is the classic variant that most people think of when they think of poker.

In Texas Holdem, each player is dealt two cards face down. Players look at their cards and may choose to either fold, bet (if they are first to go), match the previous player’s bet, or raise the stake.

After each player has made their choice, three communal cards are placed in the middle of the table. Assuming at least two players are left, there is a second round of betting, before a fourth communal card is placed in the middle of the table.

After a final round of betting, the fifth and final communal card is dealt. The winner is then the player who can make the strongest five card hand with any cards out of their two personal cards and the five communal cards.

Seven Card Stud

Seven Card Stud is another very popular form of poker that you’ll find at every online casino.

At the beginning, each player is dealt one card face up and two cards face down. The player with the lowest ranked face up card is forced to bet first. Betting then goes around the table clockwise.

A second face up card is then dealt to each player. This time the player with the highest ranking face up cards is required to bet first, before betting again goes clockwise around the table.

This same pattern is repeated with a face up card being dealt to each player, and the player with the best face up hand betting first, until seven cards have been dealt to each player who hasn’t yet folded.

Sometimes if no-one folds before the last round it is possible to run out of cards. In which case the last card is placed in the middle of the table and becomes a communal seventh card for all players.

The winner is the player who can make the best five card poker hand from the several cards he or she has been dealt.


Omaha, also called Omaha Holdem, is similar to Texas Holdem but with some added complication in the way that players form a winning hand. There is some ambiguity about exactly what Omaha is; the most common form, the one described here, is called Omaha high.

Dealing and betting in Omaha goes basically the same as in Texas Holdem. The first difference is that each player gets four face down cards instead of just two. The second and most intriguing difference is that each player must form their final five card hand with exactly three of the cards in the middle and exactly two of their own face down cards.

As you can imagine, the complicated rules for forming your hand make Omaha more challenging than the more common forms of poker. It is maybe not the best game for beginners, but is a great change for avid players looking to spice things up a bit.

Other Kinds to Try

Razz is the same as Seven Card Stud, except the lowest ranking five card hand is the winner.

Five card draw is perhaps the simplest form of poker. Each player is dealt five face down cards. They then bet, after which they can swap some of their cards (generally not more than three) for replacements from the deck. There is a second round of betting, followed by the reveal. Despite its simplicity, five card draw is quite difficult because no other player’s cards are visible to you at any time.

Mixed poker variants combine several different forms in one game. The most common and most complex of these is H.O.R.S.E which is a mixture of Texas hold ’em, Omaha high low, Razz, Seven card stud and Seven Card Stud Eight or better.

Be Fruitful and Multiply Your Poker Games

Now you know a range of different kinds of poker and rules to play, you can try them online and find which suits you best. Before you jump in, make sure to look for some first rate online poker tips.

Freak Out Your Poker Opponent with a Check-Raise

Texas Hold’em is a game of strategy, intuition and psychology. Only the best players will be able to master all three of these talents and yet, there always seems to be something else to learn. This is the reason why films have never done such a method its true justice. In order to become the best, one has to learn from the best. One of the most effective and powerful methods to increase your chances of winning a hand is to employ a technique known as the check-raise. However, there are some misconceptions associated with this method. This is why it is crucial to take a closer look at how it can executed as well as a handful of its main strengths.

Check-Raise Poker: Putting the Pressure On

In order to know when to check-raise, it is first a good idea to fully understand the basic concept. Check-raising essentially involves one player checking the actions of another opponent. The player then raises after the opponent has placed a bet. This is a highly psychological strategy, as it causes others to believe that the player may have a stronger hand than what is actually present (the finale of the film Good Will Hunting is an example of this strategy). So, how can a check-raise in poker be employed during gameplay?

When to Check-Raise: The Basics

It is always important to have a good idea of what the opponent may be holding. This will involve appreciating their past playing history, any potential tells and how often they are likely to bet after being checked. The first important takeaway point is that it is never a good idea to check-raise if you feel that the opponent has an unbeatable hand. However, this is often wise if you believe that no hand or only small pairs are present.

The second primary concern is the size of the pot. Most experts believe that a check-raise in poker should only take place when the pot is relatively small. Larger pots can cause unpredictable behaviour and cloud judgement; leading to potentially poor decisions being made. Of course, you must first check before a raise can occur, so it is only possible when you are no longer in order.

The Strength of the Raise

A check-raise in poker is one of the most powerful bluffing mechanisms in existence. This is actually why some tables forbid it entirely. However, a bluff is only as effective as how it is employed. In the majority of cases, any check-raise should represent twice the value of the bet that a previous opponent has made. The reason for this is rather simple. A smaller value will is not likely to have much impact upon the strategy of the other player. However, larger check-raises will cause them to think twice about paying back in. They will hesitate to risk more money on a card that could potentially be weak. This is why a good check-raise is an effective deterrent in terms of bluffing.

When to Check-Raise with a Strong Hand

A check-raise can come in very useful if you happen to have a very strong hand. This only stands to reason, for your main goal is to accrue as much money as possible during any given round. Still, let’s not forget that check-raising too often is a sure-fire sign that you are holding monster cards. This will scare other players off. It is prudent to use any check-raise in a more passive manner during such situations (particularly if you are playing at a large table). A bit of reservation will keep the others guessing and allow you to further strengthen what could very well be a solid hand.

Transforming a Weak Hand into a Strong Position

Once again, bluffing is all about strategy. The typical check-raise can also be used during times when you have a weak hand. If you check after a raise, opponents may believe that your cards are much stronger than they actually are. Although this tends to be a smoke-and-mirrors tactic, it can prove worthwhile when smaller pots are present.

Knowing when to check-raise is just as important as knowing why to check-raise. This is a potent bluffing strategy and while even beginners are aware of its effectiveness, many are not certain how it can be employed during an average game. Please keep these suggestions in mind, as they will prove to be invaluable when further honing your poker skills.

Mining poker: set your opponents up for disaster

Winning big in poker isn’t always about the fundamentals of the game, so adding some special moves to your arsenal could be the crucial difference between winning a modest pot and striking gold! Set mining is perhaps the most simple of these special moves to master: follow these simple steps and you could win big.

What is set mining poker?

Set mining is the practice of putting into play pocket-pairs for the rationale of hitting a set and is only applicable to small pairs, not Kings and Queens. Flopping with a pocket pair can be an extremely useful and powerful hand, as it is disguised well, it is rarely suspected by opponents and has the potential to win big pots for a minimal amount of risk. Set mining provides minimal risk for potentially big rewards, which makes it one of the most desirable and straight-forward techniques to strike gold.

Mastering set mining poker:

The key to succeeding in set mining is understanding that pocket pairs are not all that frequent: for example, you should expect a pocket pair every two orbits. Set mining poker is therefore only used once every two orbits, proving again that it is a low risk strategy for high potential gain.

In the event that you get a pocket pair, there is an 11.8% chance that you will flop at least a set and so for set mining a flop is going to be good for you once every 8 times. Although a set mining strategy cannot be used frequently, it is well worth adding to your poker repertoire. It is precisely the fact that flopping sets doesn’t happen so often, that this technique, if applied properly, can be such a lucrative business.

As there are such low odds of flopping a set, it is crucial that you master the concept of ‘implied odds’, which means you take into account money that is not yet in the pot but is likely to be. Having a grasp of implied odds is the single most important skill to master, in order to succeed through set mining poker. The implied odds are a result of the strength of your opponents’ hand range and the amount of money that is left behind for post-flop. The more money there is left behind for post flop, the less often you have to stack your opponent for it to be profitable.

In other words, the more money left behind for post flop, the more profitable it is for set mining poker.

Set mining works best when you’re in position and can call pre-flop with your pocket pairs and has the potential to strike gold against a whole range of hands, be that premium pocket pairs or any other potentially winning hand. Set mining poker also works well against a particular type of opponent: loose and aggressive competitors who are more likely to put money in the pot with a wider range.

Set mining poker: reaping the rewards in the Post flop:

The key to succeeding in set mining is flopping that all important set, based on the implied odds. This then gives you all three post flop avenues to build a big pot and reap the rewards that you have set up. For example, if you miss the flop, there is only about a 4% chance that the turn is going to give you your set and equally if you miss the turn, the same odds are applied that the river will bring you your set.

Flopping your set and the post flop strategy that you pursue is thus integral. If you do hit your set, you need to think about your opponent’s likely hands and build the pot on this basis. Without a strong enough post flop strategy, you will not receive the benefits and big rewards that can be yielded from set mining poker.

Low risk, High reward:

Set mining is a great way to win big, whilst risking very little. Provided you are deep- stacked and follow the integral concept of implied odds, anyone using this technique can win big today!

You are your own worst enemy – The Poker Tilt and how to stop it

Though we are all encouraged to maintain our ‘poker face’, poker can be far from a dispassionate game. If we allow our emotions to get the better of us – either in poker or in any aspect of life – things can very quickly go awry. One of the most important emotional disturbances to pay attention to here is poker tilt. Once we notice the dreaded tilt happening, we need to be able to stop it in its tracks.

What is poker tilt?

Poker tilt is the name for the buildup of frustration that can occur during a game of poker, and which leaves us feeling confused and unable to make the best decisions for ourselves. This might happen because the game is not going our way, or because the other players are doing their best to wind us up, or simply because of something upsetting or frustrating that is occurring in our personal life which we have been unable to leave behind us as we play. Poker ’tilt’ happens when this frustration gets the better of us and starts to affect our poker strategy. In other words, poker tilt means playing badly (and probably losing money unnecessarily) due to feelings of annoyance and frustration.

The difference between tilt and steam

Poker tilt and poker steam are often conflated, however they are in fact two different things. Poker steam is similar to poker tilt, but rather than revolving around feelings of frustration it involves feelings of anger and aggression. Someone suffering from poker tilt might get annoyed and feel stuck in a rut, losing their focus and making bad decisions as a result. A gambler afflicted by poker steam, however, will become angry and aggressive and could even get verbally abusive and violent.

How to stop poker tilt: a three point guide

Have you been suffering from poker tilt? You can stop it if you want to, by bearing the following three points in mind.

1. Recognise when tilt is happening

Poker tilt can sneak up on us unawares. It is natural to feel annoyed if we were not dealt the optimum hand or if we wagered a little too much on a given round. Ideally, these emotions will be transient and we will be able to control them when we want to. Nevertheless, it is crucial to be able to recognise when these emotions are building up and becoming a problem. Check in with yourself regularly during a game – how do you feel? Are your emotions making you confused? Are you trapped in a frustration-motivated ‘brain fog’? Or, is everything ok at the moment?

2. Learn your trigger points

Stopping tilting in poker will be so much easier if you know what triggers it in the first place. Is it related to the irritating behaviour of a particular player, for instance? Or, does it usually occur when you feel tempted to fold? When one of these identifiable’trigger situations’ happens, you will be prepared to stop tilt before it has even begun.

3. Have a cool down strategy

It can be hard to think about how to cool down when you are feeling flustered. The best way to halt tilting in poker is to have a strategy already thought out, so that when you feel the tilt starting to take hold of you, you can just apply your strategy and regain focus and tranquility. There is no one size fits all approach: everyone is different, so find out what works for you! Some useful strategies for calming down include breathing slowly and deeply, counting to 10 and back down to 1 again in your head, grabbing a drink of cold water or alternatively a comforting hot drink, and telling yourself ‘stay calm’ several times in your mind.

Recognise when you have a real problem

Has tilt really got you in its grip? Has your tilt even turned into steam? Many people have anger management issues, and if you are having a real problem controlling your emotions as you gamble it is definitely worth while talking to someone (such as a friend, your partner, or a counsellor) and perhaps even taking an anger management course. Why lose money and spoil what should be a fun game of poker due to poker tilt when you could start solving the problem today?