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Surviving to the antes

Marcus Bateman RSS / Marcus Bateman / 19 November 2008 / Leave a Comment

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Always remember that although you cannot win a tournament in the early stages, you most certainly can lose one.

If you look at the stats of where a good multi table player finishes in a tournament, you will quickly see that they hardly ever bust in the very early stages. Although there will be the odd cooler situation, such as an over set, or having their aces cracked by kings, on the most part good MTT players tend to stay under the radar in the early stages, looking to pick up some small pots and just stay alive while the stacks are still very big in comparison to the blinds.

This is because the real skill of a good tournament poker is not in the early deep stacked game. The thing that separates them from the rest of the field is their skill once the antes kick in and the pressure starts to push players into making moves. This is where someone who understands the situations where maximum pressure can be applied starts to have a substantial edge over the majority of the field - it is also the point where it most matters to have an edge, as the pots are large, the money is near, and the difference between winning and losing now is what will ultimately decide whether you will make those all important top three spots.

This has clear consequences on your early game in MTTs. Hands which do not have the potential to turn into big hands, such as unsuited weak aces, weak broad way hands (such as KJo, JQo etc), and unsuited connectors should usually just be left alone. Early in a tournament you are much better off playing hands that have the possibility to turn into hands that you are happy putting one hundred big blinds in with - which is rarely a weak top pair or draw.

Always remember that although you cannot win a tournament in the early stages, you most certainly can lose one. Focussing on surviving until the point where your edge becomes larger is critical if you want to maximise your advantage over the field. Early you want to try and get in with hands that can turn into the nuts and let you win a massive pot or two with little risk - it is nearly always a big mistake to ever be busting early to anything but bad beats and coolers early in a tournament.

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