The Top 7 Ways to Stop Spewing Chips in Tournaments

spewing chips

Its one of the most frustrating ways to bust out of tournaments yet so many are guilty of it. Spewing chips in tournaments is a huge problem that lots of poker players face regularly. Some are aware of it and do their best to safeguard against it. Others are ignorant of this leak and continue to do it without any consideration. Whichever camp you fall into, you’ll want to ensure you’re not spewing precious chips in tournaments. That’s why I’ve decided to write a complete guide on the top ways to stop spewing valuable chips in future tournaments.

1] Stop chasing draws with poor odds

I’m sure many of you are guilty of this tendency, but chasing straights or flushes without the pot odds is costing you in tournaments. In cash games where stacks are deeper and implied odds greater, it might be worth chasing on the turn for a straight or flush. In tournaments, where survival is paramount and every chip matters, chasing without decent odds is a no-no.

Yet in low stakes tournaments its as if pot odds don’t matter to some people. They’ll think “if I hit, I’ll double up”. What they should realize is that they’ll make their flush less than 1 in 5 times if they are chasing from turn to river. Therefore, this tip is urge you to only chase if your opponents are offering the correct direct odds for you to go after it.

2] Don’t double up short stacks so easily

Another common way to spew chips is to lightly call all ins. Unless the tournament is a bounty format where busting players is rewards with cash prizes, continuously gambling with short stacks is just spew. You see it all the time, “I can afford to gamble” is proudly stated when calling 10 big blinds with 9 high. When you’ve worked hard to achieve a decent stack, why take unnecessary risks with weaker hands? It’s non-sensical but it doesn’t stop so many players doing it over and over again. I’ve seen it in hand history review sessions where students state it didn’t cost much. This just an excuse for spewing chips in tournaments so don’t be giving short stacks an easy double up next time.

3] Avoid over-calling with junky hands

Another poor habit in tournaments is the over-limp with junk hands like ace rag or king nine. Low stakes tournaments have many who enjoy the open call approach. This can often invite other players to join the party and overcall with average hands. Truthfully, you should avoid spewing chips in this manner. Playing poor hands, particularly multi-way isn’t likely to yield long term profits, especially when stack depths aren’t great. You’re much better served saving that big blind and utilizing it to iso-raise later or steal blinds in unopened pots. This is a much more effective way of using your tournament chips. Don’t be one of those over-limpers trying to catch the miracle flop.

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4] Tighten up from the small blind

The small blind is the worst spot to play Texas Hold’em from. You’re always acting first post-flop and therefore have the least information available. Therefore, you should be cautious about the pots you play. This concept is lost on many poker players though who continue to play a much too wide range from this position. The result is the same unless you’re an expert – tournament chips spewed. As such, I’m recommending you play extremely solid from the small blind. Preserve those valuable tournament chips for better spots.

5] Cut down on the big bluffs

One of the reasons low stakes tournaments are so profitable is due to the players stubbornness. They can’t help but pay off when they should find easy folds in scenarios where their opponents are likely value betting. The downside to this is that it can be hard to get a big bluff through in a low stake’s tournament. You need to ensure you’re targeting someone who has the ability to fold a decent holding.

Unfortunately, many poker players forget this and can’t help but try the big bluff on anyone and everyone. This is just spewing tournament chips and unless you’re pretty certain it will work, avoid these big bluffs as you’ll find yourself on the rail a lot of the time.

6] Size your 3 bets correctly

I know many of you are now able to 3 bet with wider ranges. You’re finding profitable scenarios to execute them and getting satisfaction at the same time. However, its not enough to 3 bet, you need to know consider the size too. Loads of poker players are not sizing them properly to achieve the desired result – an error from their opponent.

For instance, if you’re out of position and trying a re-steal, don’t be 3 betting small as your opponent is obliged to call with pretty much their entire range. You’ll find yourself in tough spots post flop and going to face difficulties. Instead, increase your size so that you can narrow their range and also increase your chances of winning it outright. Conversely, in position you can afford to make smaller 3 bets as you should not be as concerned about playing post-flop in position.

7] Stop paying off nits

Your head tells you to fold but you can’t help it can you? Paying off nits is a major leak for countless low stakes’ tournament players. Even beginners know that nitty opponents are seldom bluffing. They are waiting for the best hands and will punish anyone who wants to face against them. Yet so many are still paying them off.

It’s one of the most foolish ways to spew chips in tournaments as you ought to know better. You don’t need the best poker software to recognize a nit. They’ve been folding all tournament, letting you rob them blind. Now you have A-10 in late position and they’ve 3 bet yet you can’t help but play it because its one of your better hands in this spot. When this happens, just ask yourself, how often does it work when you get stubborn against a nit? Case closed.

There you have it, the top 7 ways to stop spewing chips in poker tournaments. If you enjoyed this article and want to see some low stakes tournaments I’ve played, join our membership below for $59.99 a year.

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: