If you are used to playing ring games in poker then a tournament is going to be a very different environment for you.
If you are used to playing ring games in poker then a tournament is going to be a very different environment for you. While in normal cash games the average chip stack of most players is going to be pretty close together, in a tournament nothing could be further from the truth. Sure at the beginning of the match players will be close together in funds, but as the game goes on there are going to be some players who have a huge number of chips and others hanging on by a thread. Everything done in a poker tournament is done for the long term and you are foolish to take a big risk for unnecessary short term gain. Every tournament can be described as going through three different phases, and the best way to succeed in a tournament is to know what to do in each of those phases.
Starting off in the game everyone has the same number of chips and it’s nice and even. During this time it is important to play tight with your chips. While you should be aggressive if you have a very good hand, it doesn’t make sense to work hard for the very small blinds, and you are better off sitting and waiting until you are sure you can win a hand. Your main goal for the early stages of the game should be to make it through to the middle stage of the game with at least an average amount of chips. Most online tournaments will tell you the chip average and you can adjust your play style to keep you in line with the chips. By keeping with the average you leave yourself enough playing power to have a good shot at the middle stages.
Now that all the weaker players have been eliminated you have to gain some ground and stay up with the top players. It is important to take risks and keep a good stack of chips at all times. If you end up getting too low on chips you will have to go all-in and hope that it works out for the best. During this time you should be stealing blinds whenever you can get away from it and trying your luck with half decent hands. Remember to play smart and to be aggressive whenever you have an opening. If you can maintain your chips you will make it into the money of the tournament as well as the late stages.
Congratulations of you have made it this far, you have made yourself some money from the tournament, now it is time to go all the way. Since everyone has already made money off the tournament they are going to be very willing to take risks. Now that you are at the end blinds are worth a lot and you can benefit by stealing them. You will be facing plenty of all-in situations and you should call people on them if you think you have a good shot of winning. Be as aggressive as you possibly can and play some less worthy hands than you typically would. The last stages of the tournament have to be played very well and you have to get lucky as well.