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Single Table Tournament Strategy | General Issues | Early Play | Middle Play | End Game | Conclusion

STT Strategy - Early Play

Your play in the early stages should be very tight. There are plenty of people eager to get into the action, and each “kill” greatly improves your chances of making the money. Even with good cards, all-in show downs are marginal.

However, STT’s are a quicker game than an MTT and you want to give yourself enough chips to bet properly during the middle stages. Consider reducing starting hand requirements slightly from late position where there are no raises. This is no limit poker and the expected value of say, a small pocket pair, can be very high.

Hands that I will play from any position in the early stages: JJ, QQ, KK, AA, and AK suited. Be prepared to let all but AA and KK go if someone goes all in.

Hands I will play (for cheap!!) in late position include two suited face cards, and suited aces down to an eight. You are looking here for a nuts or near nuts hand (nut flush, full house or straight) that you can afford to slow play and make a big gain for a small initial stake. I’ll also play any pocket pair, especially against multiple callers, because of the disguise value if I hit a set on the flop.

I never bluff in the early stages of an STT. The blinds aren’t worth it, and if there are multiple callers, one of them will pay to see you. Post flop you should be mega-tight and never jeopardise either your chips or your table image chasing the river.

One big difference between an STT and an MTT is where one player amasses a huge chip lead in the early stages. In an MTT, you hate having them on your table. They steal the pots while people on other tables are playing hands. But in an STT I always like a clear chip leader. The bluffers are in big trouble - whatever they throw in, big stack can afford to call. I can play nice and tight and still keep up. On occasions I’ve reached the money in this type of game without making any significant bets.

Play tight, do not bluff and always remember position. Let the fish die off, without burning too many chips, but look for cheap opportunities to make gains. Create the impression you are a rock.

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