Live Poker Tournaments Strategy Tips

Trophy, Cards, Poker, Challengers

Live poker tournaments can be very challenging. They require a lot of strategic nuance and skill for you to gain an advantage over your opponents. You’ll need to make a few adjustments and change up your normal style of play to improve your chances of winning compared to online poker.

In this guide, I’ll go over my live poker tournament strategy, which will help maximize your performance. The goal is to help you capitalize on each situation that presents itself. Here’s how you can potentially win live poker tournaments:

Tip #1 – Adjust to Your Opponents

Never underestimate the people you’re playing against – they’ll often catch you by surprise and knock you out of the tournament early on. However, you don’t want to overestimate your opponents either. Always study what they’re doing and never second guess their skill level.


Finding balance is the key to playing your opponents. The good news is that you have a lot more information to work with in live poker tournaments.

You can observe for obvious tells, but you should always try to figure out the overall state of mind of all players. If someone is bored or frustrated, for example, they’re likely to make a mistake.

Tip #2 – Pay Attention to Every Hand

Even if you’ve already folded your hand, make sure you’re following along and analyzing your opponents. Try to determine how they play strong/weak hands and take note of any tells. You want to learn everything you can about their tendencies and habits.

People give away a lot of information from their body language alone. A showdown between two of your opponents will allow you to sit back and watch how everything plays out. You’ll learn a lot about how the players will respond to difficult situations.

Tip #3 – Watch Your Stack Size and Play Accordingly

When you play poker on the internet, it’s very easy to follow the stack sizes. They are displayed next to each player’s name, but that’s not the case in live poker tournaments.

You have to follow the numbers on your own to make sure you know what each player on the table has, including yourself.

You can categorize stack sizes as short, medium, or deep. Monitoring your stack size is ultimately going to influence how you play each hand. The same applies to the other players.

With a short stack, you don’t have time to wait around for good hands. Most players try to get aggressive and seek out situations where going all-in with anything decent makes sense. The ranges are usually looser, so you can take advantage of that.

With deeper stacks, you have more flexibility when it comes to the number of hands you can play. However, you’ll still need to be selective with how you play your hands, especially when you’re going up against skilled opponents who have a lot of chips themselves.

Tip #4 – Play the Right Starting Hands

Many amateur players tend to enter the pot with marginally good hands, especially in live poker, where you can get bored quickly.

Online events are significantly faster, so you rarely have to wait for too long before you get playable cards. In comparison, you can often just fold for an hour straight and a lot of players can’t handle that.

Futher Info:

Certain pre-flop hands will look start to look exciting when you haven’t seen action in a while. It’s pivotal to resist the urge to play mediocre hands in bad spots because that usually leads to complicated situations after the flop.

Keep calm, stick to your main strategy, and play the right starting hands. It’s one of the simplest yet most efficient live poker tournament tips I can give you.

Tip #5 – Avoid Overplaying Hands in the Early Stages

You don’t want someone to knock you out of the tournament early on. You shouldn’t fall in love with marginal hands and then try to bluff your way to victory. This is often a losing strategy – even the best players will keep it safe during the early stages of a big tournament.

Smart players also recognize when someone’s risking their entire stack on a mediocre hand. At times you shouldn’t hesitate to fold your hand, even if you believe that you can rattle your opponents by going all-in. One hero call could be enough to end your tournament.

Tip #6 – Correct Bet Sizing

Your starting hand looks really good and you decide to play it. However, you then have to decide the correct betting range for what you have. You never want to play it slow, but overbetting can also reveal a lot about your starting hand.


As always, the key here is to follow the opponents and the table dynamics. You want to bet the maximum amount a player with a weaker hand would call. The other option would be to place a wager that’s just high enough to force stronger hands to fold.

It’s obviously easier said than done, but correct bet sizing is crucial. Another factor here is that the opponents can adjust to your strategy if you don’t vary it a bit.

Tip #7 – Take Calculated Risks

You shouldn’t always play it safe – most poker veterans know when it’s time to get aggressive and make big moves. Your live poker tournament strategy will improve immensely once you’re able to recognize when other players are passive and non-committal.

Winning tournaments will require some measured risks, so keep your eyes open for spots that could boost your chances of winning.

That’s one of the most underrated tips for live poker tournaments out there. A lot of people are too conservative in their approach and later wonder what went wrong. Remember, you need luck to win tournaments and your stack will be on the line every now and then.

If you don’t decide when that happens on your terms, you will be forced into it by other players and the rising blinds.

Tip #8 – Getting Past the Danger Zone

This is one of those live poker tournament tips that often goes overlooked. Once you enter the middle stage of the tournament, the “danger zone” becomes a lot more evident. This is when the competition is thinning out and you can’t simply stick to your usual strategy.

As the tournament progresses, you’ll have to keep adjusting and changing your strategy. You might be forced to play very tight if the table is full of short stacks that are looking for a double-up.

In other situations, being ultra-aggressive pays off because no one wants to take big risks close to the money.

The key is to read the table and your opponents right. Tournaments are about constantly adjusting to the players, the blinds, and how far the money is.

Playing Online Poker Tournament

Some players love live poker tournaments, but others find them boring and time-consuming. If you prefer to play on the internet, I encourage you to check out the best poker sites.

They all offer excellent poker tournaments with great prizes. If you decide to check them out, you can also expect plenty of bonuses and promotions.

Petko Stoyanov
Get in touch with Petko
About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.