The main objective in texas holdem tournament poker strategy is survival. And in order to survive through the early stages and find yourself with either a large stack or medium stack in the middle stage. It is necessary to avoid marginal hands and situations which could cost you chips or the tournament. Like playing out of position, defending blinds, or trying to steal them too often.
It can be extremely annoying to have someone steal your blinds. Do not worry about the blinds here. Let them steal that tiny little blind with the goal of conserving your chips so you will be able to steal blinds once they get big AND REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Stealing just one blind in later stages makes up for 4 or 5 blinds in the early stage.
The best hands to play early in the tournament are pocket pairs, and hands like AK. Try to double up with a strong hand like AA-QQ. Try to see a flop a cheaply as possible with a pocket pairs 22 through 99 and double up with a set.
With 22-99 if many player have limped in or someone has made a small raise just call. But if you are the first in the pot, seeing a cheap flop may mean raising a little in some spots to avoid someone trying to steal the pot from you.
Hands like 1010 through JJ are flexible and can be played strong or conservative. The secret is to know where you are in the hand before the flop. With the middle pairs do not limp in, you should make a standard preflop raise (usually 3 times the big blind). This is done for value and information. If someone makes a big reraise the hand should usually be folded, depending on who the opponent is of course. They should also be folded if two strong raises are made in front of you.
There are some times to see a flop if its not to expensive. For example in the blind with a good suited connector and a multiway pot that has been only raised the minimum. Or maybe a hand like KQ or AJ suited in late position if there was no raise.
Other than that play tight to build a good table image that will allow you to steal in later stages. Also use this time to watch who is who at the table. This will also be extremely useful later on.
For more specific guidelines on how to play hands, like a draw or set. Visit the No Limit Strategy Section . The Texas Holdem Tournament Poker Strategy section mainly covers, stealing blinds, building a chip stack, survival and other important topics.
Middle stage sit n go strategy is much like early except you should start to steal a little more. You should still focus on survival and maintaining a healthy chip count or doubling up in a good spot.
You will not be able to just limp in or call with most hands now since the blinds are bigger. And should either raise or fold most of the time. The standard raise is 3 times the big blind. If you have a big stack this is the correct play. But, if this is half of your total chips you should just go all in. This will avoid anyone outplaying you if you miss a flop, or trying the re-steal play on you pre-flop. It will also put maximum pressure on opponents.
One common mistake to avoid is challenging a legitimate raise with a marginal hand (like A9 or 33). Do not get involved in a pot that has been raised unless you are almost positive someone is trying to steal. Or you have a premium hand.
It is much better and safer to steal with a garbage hand when no one has entered a pot. Than to challenge a raise with a marginal hand.
General stealing guidelines are covered in Late Stage Strategy that also apply to early and middle.
Texas Holdem Tournament Poker Strategy should be used along with the No Limit Holdem Strategy Section for the early stages of the tournament.Top of Page