Use these 3 Easy Tips to Beat Large Tournament Fields

Large field poker tournaments represent a great earning potential, but they can also be filled with all sorts of traps and crazy players you need to outlast

Large field poker tournaments represent a great earning potential, but they can also be filled with all sorts of traps and crazy players you need to outlast

People love to play no-limit Hold ’em poker tournaments these days. That translates to big fields in online tournaments – especially freerolls and low buy-in events.

Many sites now sponsor a weekly large guaranteed prize pool event, usually in the neighborhood of $100,000-$1,000,000. The main event of the WSOP has topped 6,000 entrants for a decade. The point is that these tourneys are big.

You might consider adjusting your style of play to combat some of the craziness of these large fields and that’s why I’m writing about today.

Large-Field Poker Tournament Strategy

1. Stay out of the action early on if you aren’t a big favorite

You’ll see a lot of players who think they need to double-up right away or they’re out. Usually they’re not holding anything too strong, but what if they are? And what if their 2-6 draws out on your A-K?

I don’t recommend getting all your chips in during the first 3 rounds unless you have pocket Aces or Kings. The blinds aren’t eating you away yet so why take a big risk?

If you thrive on maniacs playing against you then go for it. Just don’t come crying to me when they hit another deuce on the river.

You shouldn't get too involved early on in a poker tournament without a really premium hand. Let resident maniacs at the tables do their thing

You shouldn’t get too involved early on in a poker tournament without a really premium hand. Let resident maniacs at the tables do their thing

Also, in these large field events, the field usually thins early. Let them be crazy.

You usually find that you’ve survived half of the field without even playing a hand. Look for a good spot and try to double up, but concentrate and make sure you’ve got the best of it.

2. Don’t obsess about how many places pay out

When I first started playing online poker tournaments, I used to check how close I was to the payout all the time. I hardly ever do it anymore because it’s a distraction that can affect my play. What does it matter if you have 49 more places until you hit the money?

You should play your top game regardless of how many players are left. If you get knocked out on a good hand trying to gain some chips, don’t kick yourself. You did the best you could, and that’s all you can ever do.

One aspect that is universal in all tournaments is play when it’s close to the bubble. Everyone tightens up and the most common play is the blind-steal. If you can afford to lose the buy-in, this is a great time to pick up some more chips. Everyone’s afraid to go out on the bubble, so take advantage of it.

Cashing for the minimum in a poker tournament should never be your goal; you are there to win the whole thing and that's the mindset you need to maintain

Cashing for the minimum in a poker tournament should never be your goal; you are there to win the whole thing and that’s the mindset you need to maintain

Pick up a decent hand and raise with it. Most of the time you’ll get to pick up the ever-increasing blinds. If you get played back at, use your best judgment. Personally, I don’t feel it’s a great accomplishment to finish at the bottom of the money. It is essentially getting your money back. Why play your top game for hours on end just to get your money back?

3. Pay attention as best you can.

This can be difficult, especially in online play where you can do so much else while you play. It can be difficult when you’re moved to a new table, but just start over again. Try to categorize all the players at your table into a general scheme, such as “Always defends his blinds” or “Raises every time“. It will help you when you have to make borderline calls and you just need to know how your opponent plays.

Every time you are seated at a new table in a poker tournament try to quickly figure out some general tendencies of your opponents. This should help you a lot in adjusting your play

Every time you are seated at a new table in a poker tournament try to quickly figure out some general tendencies of your opponents. This should help you a lot in adjusting your play

I find that I just play better when I focus on one game only, especially if the buy-in is a significant part of my bankroll.

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Summarizing my tips for large tournament fields

Again, my three essentials to playing a large field:

  • Stay out of the action early,
  • Don’t worry about the payout,
  • Pay attention as best you can.

They sound like simple tips and they are. They’re poker fundamentals, but you have to always play your fundamental game well to play anything well.

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Josh H
Josh H
Owner and Editor-in-chief at Beat The Fish
A lifelong poker player who moved online in 2004, Josh founded Beat The Fish in 2005 to help online poker players make more-informed decisions on where to play and how to win once they got there. He hopes to cut through the rampant dishonesty in online gaming media with objective reviews and relevant features. Tech nostalgic. Cryptocurrency missionary. Still fondly remembers the soup avatar at Doyle's Room. You can reach Josh directly at support@beatthefish.com.
 
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