Successfully Playing No Limit Hold’em Poker Tournaments


Playing No Limit Hold’em tournaments is the best way there is to leverage your poker bankroll. You have very little risk versus a high reward. However, in order to gain the high reward, you have to play in large fields amongst a lot of players. This requires that you adjust your play in order to be successful.

First, quit thinking that you are going to win every poker tournament that you play! That may sound counter-productive, but you have to have realistic expectations going into a given tournament. If you are competing at a MTT with 2900 entrants, you are not going to actually win this type of tournament very often. So, you need to adjust your mindset to a goal of simply ‘making the money.’ Once you have gotten paid for your time, you can go from there.

Speaking of mindset, poker tournaments require that you continually adjust. I watch many players go into a shell around the bubble and then once they make the money they start pushing all-in with hands like Q-9 or A-4. What they probably should be doing is just moving up the pay scale rather than getting in a hurry to be busted.

Each tournament puts you in a different situation and requires you to adjust your goals. Sometimes you will be hanging on to make the money and that’s it. Sometimes you will be trying hard to move up the pay scale. Sometimes you will have a big stack and be trying to put yourself in a position to make the final table. Each game is different and the events that unfold early on will tell you how to need to play in the latter stages.

Also, quit thinking you can win the tournament in the first 10 hands! Sure, you are trying to set yourself up to make the money, but don’t get in a hurry early on. I watch players in every tournament that I play online, desperately trying to double up. Doubling up and playing with the big stack in the first hour of the tournament is not going to insure that you make the money if it is a large MTT.  In fact, many guys who play the ‘double up or bust out’ game early on never even get a sniff of the money. It is not necessary to put your tournament life at risk on a coin-flip hand early on. Much better opportunities will arise.

Choose tournaments based on the time that you have to play them. I cannot tell you how many players have told me that they played a large MTT and then ‘ran out of time’ or ‘got tired/bored’ and made a stupid play after playing well for 3 hours. If you only have an hour or so, play an 18-player Sit n Go, but don’t buy into a tournament that you do not have the time to go all the way in should the opportunity arise. With big tournaments that can mean spending 8 or 10 hours playing. It is a big time commitment rather than a big money commitment. Be smart about which tournaments you enter.

In summary, there are many aspects that you need to be aware of and work on in order to become a great tournament poker player. Getting over some of these initial hurdles will definitely put you well on your way.

To purchase my 224 page ebook The No BS Guide to Winning Online No Limit Texas Holdem or coaching sessions with Chris Wilcox,  click this link:

For any questions, concerns, or to opinions,  please email Chris Wilcox at


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