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How to Survive Multi-Table Tournaments

The Multi-Table Tournament (MTT) is the format where poker stars are born. From the World Series of Poker (WSOP) to the World Poker Tour (WPT) to those hosted daily on your favorite poker app, MTTs are a true battle of wits and grit. For those with an edge, they can be incredibly profitable.

To make a deep run, you need to understand each stage of the tournament and adjust your strategy accordingly. While there are no guarantees in this game of chance, you can set yourself up for success by following these guidelines.

Early Stages

In the first level, you need to understand the deep-stacked and exploitative play. This is the part of the tournament when stacks will be largest, so post-flop play and concepts like stack-to-pot ratio are critical.

The beginning is also when you’ll find the weakest players—after all, they haven’t busted out yet. So when you smell blood in the water, don’t be afraid to strike. Get out of line and make exploitative plays, like 3-betting wide against nits or betting for thin value against calling stations.

Middle Stages

The most important thing to keep in mind during the middle stages is that you’re playing the tournament to WIN! You’re not there to min-cash, make day two, or any other minor achievement. Don’t just nit it up when you’re near the bubble because you’d rather min-cash than take a chance at building a tourney-winning stack.

At this point, stacks are beginning to shrink, so you need to understand stack size adjustments. For instance, you can open wider from the early position because the position is less important with shallower effective stacks. Similarly, when 3-betting, high card hands go up in value while speculative hands go down.

Photo: PokerNews

Late Stages

Don’t be afraid to go for it!

As the tournament gets down to the last few tables, many experienced players tighten up too much. They try to make sure that they’re getting their money in good, that they don’t mess up, and yet they never win. The truth is, however, that if you play very tightly at this stage, you can’t win unless you get lucky and hit by the deck.

Take advantage of this mentality by 3-betting hard and putting people in tough spots when you can put their tournament life at risk. Their fear is your advantage.

Finally, this is also the place to brush up on your short-handed and heads-up skills. As the final table narrows down, you’ll be playing against fewer opponents. This changes opening ranges and other variables, so to win the whole thing you need to understand these adjustments.

Now go crush those MTTs!


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