As rewarding as a big tournament score may be, playing MTTs regularly can be a real grind. Variance is high and you can go for long periods without a positive result, through no fault of your own. In this article, we’ll offer some tips and strategies to help improve your performance in Multi-Table Tournaments.

A royal flush of diamonds lies face up on the table. Six stacks of poker chips sit behind and to the right. A further pile of yellow chips has collapsed.
Multi-Table Tournaments can be a grind. Follow our top tips to improve your results.

Don’t Skip the Early Stages

Some MTT regulars are adamant that the earliest levels of a poker tournament don’t matter. Many will sit out entirely, and where late registration is possible, they will join at the last minute. However, there are many positives to playing from the very beginning of a tournament.

Firstly, the longer you play with someone, the more you learn about them. Participating from the start gives you more time to profile your opponents. Pay attention to the hands they show and build up an idea of their skills. In a similar vein, you also have more time to work on building your own table image.

Secondly, there will be players in the tournament who are simply not very good. They will likely bust early on and may not rebuy, if that’s an option. By skipping the early stages of an MTT, you miss out on the chance to acquire these chips.

Ultimately, if you believe that you have an edge, why wouldn’t you want to maximise it?

Forget About the Cost of Entry and Play to Win

It’s vitally important when playing Multi-Table Tournaments to make good decisions. Once you lose your chips, you’re done, so every single call, raise, and fold matters. If you are focused on the monetary aspect, you’ll be more concerned with protecting your chip stack than arriving at the correct outcome.

It’s true that ICM considerations come into play later on in an MTT. But, to begin with, you only need to be worried about performing the fundamentals correctly. So, forget about the cost of the buy-in, and don’t try to preserve your investment.

Similarly, it’s important to play to win. MTT payout structures always favour the highest finishers, so the deeper you go, the bigger the rewards become. Scraping into the money each time is not a viable long-term strategy. The focus should always be on making good decisions, not eking out your chips for as long as possible.

Tight Might Be Right, but Don’t Over-Do It

We’re all familiar with that famous poker cliche “tight is right”. And there’s a lot of truth in it. But you can take it too far. For instance, when shorter stacked, many players become afraid of defending their big blind. But, in reality, you should take a stand more often in such spots.

If you’re lower in chips, you’re more likely to end up all-in, meaning an opponent cannot bully you away from a marginal hand. A good player must know this and factor that into their decision-making. So don’t be afraid to defend yourself when feeling short-stacked.

Further, most MTT players believe that you shouldn’t splash around too much early in a tournament. However, by getting involved in the opening blind levels, you can find out a lot about your opponents and their tendencies. And you can do so cheaply while the stakes are low.

Pay Attention to the Bubble

If you are fortunate enough to have a bigger stack as the bubble nears, ramp up the aggression. Widen your raising range and bet more frequently. The shorter stacks will not be able to justify many calls and you can fill your boots. It’s also true that newer players put too much emphasis on survival and such opponents can be exploited. The same applies to any pay level increase, not only the bubble.

However, when the bubble is approaching and you are the one with a short stack, you simply have to tighten up. In this situation, you really do need to modify your shove-fold range and focus on making the money. But at the same time, be aware that the larger stacks will likely understand what you are doing. They will look to apply additional pressure, knowing you are thinking about ICM. Don’t go too far that you refuse to take a stand, when doing so is correct.

A Word About Antes

Later on in Multi-Table Tournaments, antes come into play, and you should factor this into your strategy. With almost twice the amount of chips in the pot every hand, there’s a lot more dead money to be earned. Naturally, you should make more effort to collect it.

Playing with more aggression, therefore, makes a lot of sense. Widen your raising range and look to steal more often. Defend your own blinds, too. After all, you’re getting much greater pot odds for calling. You can also comfortably widen your 3-betting range, especially out of the small blind.

If you are new to online poker and are looking to play MTTs, why not sign up for a free account with Natural8 and practice with the low-stake tournaments?