Top 10 Winning Strategy Tips for Online Poker Tournaments

winning online poker tournaments

Winning online poker tournament takes skill, experience, luck and most important expert strategy. Bad players might stumble into the money and average players can run good and final table. But a donkey almost never wins a tournament. Luck can only take you so far. Fortunately, I’m going to reveal the best winning strategy tips for online poker tournaments, so you can focus your energy into maximising your tournament win rate.

1) Speculate early on

Something many people have trouble with early on is deciding on the right number of hands to play. The early stages are one of the few times where there is deep stacked play, and there are fishes around. Later in the tournament there will be fewer and shorter stacks too, so it’s best to take some smaller risks early on. This means taking flops cheaply with hands with excellent implied odds e.g., suited connectors. By speculating for a small amount, you can potentially double up early on by cracking aces.

2) ISO the fishes

Isolating bad players is a great strategy, regardless of the format, and especially true in tournaments. If you are fortunate to be at a table with a few fishes who like to limp in, take advantage and raise over them. By getting them one on one you will have a much better chance of winning it later in the hand and accumulating chips for relatively small risk. This play is best to do when you’re in position and with a hand with reasonable strength e.g. paint cards or Ax.

Don’t be isolating with total rags as there are still other players at the table. You want to iso raise with a range that beats a fishes limping range.

3) Defend your big blind

Tournament experts recognize that with smaller raises these days, you’re now getting excellent prices to defend your big blind. Whilst it may seem counter intuitive to be playing hands like Kx or Q-9 from out of position, consider the context. Most tournament player are opening for 2.2x or less nowadays. You will be getting too good a price to turn down with most average holdings.

Remember, you can win some pots post flop or make the best hand so you must defend your blinds with a wider range than years ago.

4) 3 Bet the LAGs

Even average poker players know that late position opening ranges are wider. Therefore you need to adjust and take note of who’s playing LAG and 3 bet them. Three betting a loose aggressive player is an excellent way to accumulate tournament chips with little resistance. Most LAGs at low stakes are playing aggressive if unopposed but will still fold most of their range when they get played back at. You must take advantage of this to if you want to be winning online poker tournaments.

5) Own your button

The button is the most prized possession in Texas Hold’em and by treating it as your own when you’re on it, you can win high prize tournaments at Ignition. The key to owning your button is stealing as often as possible when given the chance. Stealing the blinds is fundamental in tournament poker. Having two nits to your left is like winning bingo as you can just steal their blinds relentlessly.

6) Use a HUD correctly

Even part-time poker players appreciate what a HUD can do, but weirdly, most are using it incorrectly. A HUD can either be a source of useful information or a waste of time if used poorly. The key to using a HUD well is identifying the most important poker stats e.g. VPIP/PFR/fold to 3bet etc, not paying attention to their tendencies on the river when the sample size is small.

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7) Trust your gut

You’d be surprised how often your instinct is right. One of the things I often tell players I mentor is to trust their gut. This is true for both cash and tournaments. If you feel like you’re beat despite a decent price, fold. Conversely, if you can smell a rat and something is telling you that your opponent is running a bluff, be prepared to hero-call. Trusting your gut, even when you’re wrong at times, will serve you well in the future. Confidence in your game and instinct is a key part of winning online poker tournaments.

8) Don’t let yourself get short

You’ll need to win every chip available to win a tournament. When it’s written like that you realise how important it is to not bleed away your stack. It’s amazing to see how many people are happy moving up small pay jumps in tournaments. Whilst you may occasionally eek your way up the money ladder, you’ll need an insane amount of luck to win it from being short stacked all the way. Therefore, I’m recommending you don’t allow yourself to get too short stacked. Instead, look for opportunities to get the last bet in (with fold equity) so you can chip back up into contention.

9) Take notes

As you approach the last few tables you’ll need to be extremely attentive to your opponents. Sometimes, the structure is slowed down so there are less all ins before the flop and some “real poker” is played again. As such, you’ll need to be observant and take concise and accurate notes on how your opponents are playing. A short note can take a few seconds to write but could end up making you a lot of money if it helps you make a good decision in a key pot.

10) Play for the win at the final table

Finally, when you reach the final table, don’t let others claim that prize lightly. Go for the win and don’t be afraid to bust out in 8th. Tournament poker is very top heavy with the big prizes going to the top three positions. Therefore, you can’t be hanging on and hoping to survive your way into a win. It doesn’t happen and before you know it the other players will have you significantly out-chipped and be able to take gambles against you in a bid to bust you out.

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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: