This is the first of 3 articles looking at Multi-Table Tournament strategy
covering the beginning, middle to end stages and then the final table. This
article looks at strategy tips for the beginning of multi-table tournaments.
However before we start to look at tips for the start of the tournament we must
first consider the end! That is, we will look at the strategy dilemma posed by
the start of many tournaments by framing this in the context of your overall
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The dilemma is this: At the start of a multi-table tournament there will never
be more bad, wild or just plain inexperienced players. If you do not take their
chips then your opponents will. Yet this brings with it big risks, in order to
take these chips you will be involved in pots with inexperienced players whose
play will not make sense, their hands are difficult to read and they are liable
to call your bets with weak holdings and often ‘get lucky’ to take your chips.
So, do you stay tight and wait for the fish to go broke? Or risk going broke yourself in order to accumulate a stack?
In order to answer this question we need to look at the end stages of the tournament and assess our real objectives. Cashing in a multi-table tournament is likely to win you a small amount of cash – maybe twice or 3 times your initial buy-in. The people who really profit are those players who reach the final table. While this may seem a long way off at the very start of the tournament every strategic decision you make should bear in mind the huge jump in payouts between merely cashing and reaching the final few players.
Those players who take calculated risks at the beginning of a tournament (by taking positive expectation situations) are playing with the final table in mind. Those who choose to stay tight and outlast the fish are merely maximizing their chances of cashing.
For every time you reach the final few players you could cash 5, 10 or even 20 times. It should be clear that a primary strategy in the early stages of a MTT is to play pots and accumulate as many chips as possible from the less experienced opponents you will encounter here.
Hands with high implied odds are ideal in the early stages of a multi-table tournament. Hands such as suited connectors, small pairs and to a lesser extent suited aces can win you a huge pot when they connect well with the flop. With so many inexperienced opponents playing weak aces, medium pairs and any 2 picture cards it is easy to see how hands such as ace-king or ace-queen suited go up in value too. An important point is to be disciplined when you miss the flop with such hands, if you bet and are called by a less experienced opponent it is unlikely that firing a second barrel would be a profitable strategy.
To summarize, your strategic objective at the start of a multi-table tournament is to accumulate chips in order to have a realistic chance of reaching the final table. In order to do this you must be prepared to take some risk in positive expectation situations while there are less experienced players around. Hands with high implied odds potential and high-aces (which are likely to dominate your opponent’s holdings) offer good opportunities to win pots.