There are two major differences between cash games and poker tournaments. In a poker tournament, the blinds gradually increase but in cash games, they do not. Plus you cannot reload your stack at any point in a tournament (unless of course, it is a rebuy). That means in a tournament you must constantly accumulate chips to keep ahead of the rising blinds and ante. And one way to do that is to steal these blinds and antes.
By stealing I do not mean literally taking the blinds and antes. I’m suggesting that you use the strategy of blind stealing which goes like this.
Raising preflop, even with a sub-standard hand, forces out the players who are yet to act. If everyone else folds when you raise, you will win the dead money regardless of what cards you have and won’t even have to see a flop. The idea is that you win the money already in the middle of the table.
By stealing we are applying pressure to our opponents. We are forcing them to either have a hand or make a play at us. And the fewer players there are left to act, the more folds we are likely to generate when we steal.
Doing this once or twice during a game can be the difference between making it through to the money or crashing out before you are financially rewarded. In a poker tournament, you are playing the long game so must play accordingly.
Before you go out and begin raising as if it is going out of fashion spend a few minutes to think about the ideal scenario for a successful blind steal. Firstly you should be seated in one of the late positions at the table. This is because your raise has to go through fewer people so is more likely to be successful.
Also, you should have a relatively tight image at the table. That means having not shown down some weak hands in the past couple of rounds. Otherwise, you run the risk of one of your opponents attempting to re-steal from you, costing you chips.
Make sure the players in the blinds are tighter than the average player so that they are more inclined to fold. Loose-aggressive players are far more likely to play back at you, again costing you crucial chips at a time you are trying to accumulate them.
Finally, stack sizes of those in the blinds are important. Big stacks are going to be more inclined to call you, short stacks to move all in on you so average sized stacked opponents are best.
Be careful that you don’t try to steal blinds too often. Modern poker software now highlights how frequently players call, raise, fold, etc… If you steal too often your opponents will know it and they will call you on it. It’s a quick way to lose your chips and find yourself out of the tournament!
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