How to play the first hour in low stake MTT
January 10, 2009
The first hour in the MTT is, in my opinion, the hardest type of online poker tournament there is. You will have fish and donkeys surrounding you normally, playing appalling poker but it is so hard to dodge all the bad beats it normally takes a small miracle to avoid one. Of course all the bad play can be a great advantage if you are hitting the cards and raking in the chips, but if you are not, it can be a very long hour.
First of all I would advise playing very tightly for the first thirty minutes or so. This is where the bad players will make the game into double or nothing practically every hand and they often are not strong at all.
I would recommend not calling unless you have a top 5 hand as it is likely you will be facing more then one caller which will cut your odds of winning the pot dramatically. After that hectic thirty minutes, play should settle down and the worst players will hopefully be out and you can continue to play normal poker once more.
You will now have a huge chip deficit to the top player, unless you were fortunate enough to win a few double ups along the way, and you now need to gain some ground. Blind levels will have risen three times by now which normally makes them around 25/50 which is the type of level you need to start stealing blinds. This is a great way to cover ground and because you will not have played many games, you will have a tight image which means your raises will be more respected and stealing pots will become much easier.
You will need to steal pots when in position. The optimum position for stealing pots is the button, but any late stage is good enough. You will want to steer clear of raising pots against players with sizeable chip stacks and players who will likely call you no matter what. You may also need to try and double up if you are still far behind and will need to find the right hand and timing to do so.
Once you are approaching the break, your stack should hopefully have risen substantially from stealing pots and taken down a few hands and you will be in a comfortable position. You now need to start playing more aggressively as players generally start to tighten up when they discover the break is nearing.
This is because they do not want to be eliminated right before the break and will know they have wasted and hour of their time if they do so. Therefore targeting players with below average chip stacks will often result in more success and more chips to add to your stack.
Now the break has approached you should be in a good position on the leader board and able to pursue the top spots as the final stage of the tournament. Oh, you may also take a well earned break, get a drink and relax for five minutes before the tournament starts back up.