Setting a Home Tournament or Cash Game

To sharpen at no-limit hold'em tournament poker skills, you should set up a home game. In short, home games are much profitable and more fun to play.

For setting a home game, you should invite a few friends to play a one-table tournament.

One possible structure for a home tournament is to charge everyone $20 and pay one or two places. If there is $200 in the prize box, you could give 70 percent ($140) to the winner and 30 percent ($60) to the runner up. You could also pay more places of you have more than ten players or you could make it a winner-take-all the tournament.

We suggest that everyone should start with $500 in chips and blinds of $10-$15. The blinds can go up every twenty or thirty minutes with the next increase rising to $15-$30. After the $15-$30 level, take the chips out of play and go to $25-$50 blinds then much higher $50-$100 and so on, until the winner has been crowned.

You could use any amount of chips you want and make the betting rounds longer. You want to have more than one tournament per night, so getting it over in a timely manner will allow the losing players to get back in action without too long to wait.

You can also set up a home tournament using the WSOP structure. You start with $10000 in chips and $25-$50 blinds. Around the fourth and fifth level, you might start using an ante, just like the WSOP and WPT events. If $20 is too little or in some cases too much to play for, adjust the buy-in to whatever the players are comfortable with.

If you do not like the tournament, then play no-limit hold'em as cash game. We suggest to start with the lesser blinds such as $1-$2 or less, with the maximum amount each player can buy-in for. You can also limit the amount of buy-ins permitted if a player goes broke. You should make game going in the friendly manner and make sure that nobody loses too much.

Play Small Buy-in Multi-Table Tournament Online

Another way to get practice at no-limit hold'em game is to play small buy-in multi-table tournament online. Small buy-in online tournaments are available at any time. Because of their unlimited availability, playing these small tournaments can make your learning process move rapidly.

In the first levels you play solid, waiting for other people to make mistakes. You can pick up a hand and double up in the first one or two rounds, or play a speculative hand cheaply. Because more chips are in the play online, you can play a few more speculative hands in the early rounds without having it cost you too much.

You expect to strengthen your position a lot without harming your chip position very much. This is especially true in no-limit hold'em satellites where you have big implied odds. Starting with $1500 in chips, you have a reasonable amount of play and more opportunity to trap a rival. However, if you limp you with marginal hands, you are likely to get paid off well (because of the implied odds) if you connect with the flop.

The blinds start at $10-$20 and increase to $15-$30, $25-$50 and $50-$100. With careful play and infrequent mild speculation, you have a good chance of surviving through the break. You don't need to get out of line to double up. If you can pick up one hand and double with it, you will have $3000 in chips, which is equivalent to the average amount chips once half the players are gone. This is a good chance to be in the pot.

About one-half of the starting field is eliminated during the first hour of play. Then you take five minutes break and when you return, the blinds increase to $75-$150. Then the blinds increase to $100-$200 for two rounds. At the starting of the second round of $100-$200 blinds, you should start putting in an ante at many online casinos.

As the limits increase, you have to start opening up your hand requirements a little bit. You are in trouble unless you have equal amount of chips, so you should accumulate chips. This is when you change your style of play from being very solid to being more aggressive.

Aggressive play can pay off in any tournament you play, whether online or on-land.

At the end of the first hour, about a half of the field are gone. By the time the blind increase to $200-$400, only about twenty-five percent of the players are left. At the $200-$400 level, you need to have $4000 to $5000 in chips to feel secure. If you have any less than that, about five to six times the size of the big blind, you will be in a move-in mode any time you play a hand. When you are in this situation, there is a good debate to be made for moving in rather than raising three or four times the size of the big blind ($1200-$1900).

Before the flop when you move in, you rivals know that you are committed to the end whereas if you don't put in all your chips, they may think that you are not fully committed and might call with weak hands. If they know that you are committed to going all the way with the hand, they will fold those weak hands, which is what you want them to do. Winning the blinds is important at this level. This move-in strategy should be applied to those times when you are short-stacked and not when you have a medium to large stack.

You cannot create or develop a good hand. It is the chip count and positional considerations. Making the right decisions as when to move, when to push panic button and when to be patient are important aspects of the poker game.

Play Small-Stakes Re-buy Tournaments at On-Land Casinos

You can use many tournament strategies we just mentioned when you play a low-limit, no-limit hold'em tournament in an on-land casino. Most short-stake tournaments that are played in on-land casinos are re-buy events. Small buy-in tournaments sponsored by online casinos generally do not allow re-buys, although that is changing and some online sites these days to allow re-buys.

In a re-buy tournament, when you run out of money, you can put more money and receive another stack of chips.

The kind of tournament you enter determines a main part your playing poker strategy. In freeze-out events (those with no re-buys allowed), your basic concern in the early stages of play is making it to the next level in good position. Thus your strategy might be more conservative than it would be if you could buy more chips if you went broke.

Some low-stakes tournaments in on-land casinos are not freeze-outs - they allow multiple re-buys, either when you broke or fall below a minimum chip count, plus an add-on at the end of the re-buy period. With so many opportunities to re-fill your money at the re-buy, your strategy will differ from freeze-out tournaments except by winning them.

In many situations, you need to take the advantage of the re-buy and add-on options to be one of the top winners. Thus when you get into the re-buy tournament, take enough money with you to cover two or three re-buys and the add-on. For example, if the entry fee is $20, plan to spend $40 to $60 on the tournament (one or two $10 re-buys and the $10 add-on). If you are on the limited bankroll, it is better to save your funds for a live action game or for a freeze-out event because your insufficient bankroll can become an essential drawback in playing maximum re-buy tournament strategy.

When you go broke, it is correct to re-buy. If your winning expectation is favorable - you feel confident that you can win and there will be a pay-off - re-buy so long as you feel comfortable with number of times you do so. Always keep in mind that the main reason you are playing the tournament is to get a big return on a small investment.

Ascertaining whether to add on is determined by your chips status when the odd-on option comes up. If you are low in chips, add on. If you are the chip leader, do not add on. And if you are in a middle chip position, add on.

If you se that a very weak player who has been on a lucky streak holds one of the top chip positions, it is correct to take the add-on option so that you will have additional chips to use in taking advantage of his weak play. But if a strong player is top dog and you have small stack, it will not increase your chances of a win enough to justify the add-on. If you are playing with lot of players, most of whom you don't know, it is very difficulty to determine the skill level of the players in top chip position. In that case, use your own poker strategy and judgment.


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