Practice Winning

It’s easy to practice the early levels of tournament play… just play a lot of tournaments.

And, if you play a lot of tournaments, you will get some practice at the mid-stages of the game. But if you don’t often make deep runs in those tournaments, how can you practice winning?

The answer is SnGs.

9 seat SnGs are a good way to hone your final table skills. Yes, there are differences, but since MTTs feature top-heavy payout structures, you should be aiming for a top 3 position anyway. 9 seat SnGs are almost ideal for this kind of practice.

6 seat and 3 seat SnG are good way to sharpen your short handed skills. Good short handed skills are important to winning MTTs.

I was heads up at an MTT final table the other day, and my opponent said, “I hate heads up.” I couldn’t help thinking that he was saying he hates to win. It can be hard to get to heads up often enough to get good at it, but if you want to win tournaments, you can’t ignore that part of the game.

Heads up SnGs let you put yourself in that position over and over until you are comfortable playing heads up. They are the easiest and most effective way of practicing the one thing we would all like to do more often… winning.


haha guru, best practice is 2 buy chips lol

Great advice SPG, as usual. Its amazing that people don’t practice the format where there is the most to gain from doing it well. If you get to HU in a tournament, this is where the real money is made. Usually the gap between 1st and 2nd is enormous and you are right in that most people have no idea what to do.

Another reason practicing HU is a good idea is that it gives you experience playing the widest range of hands, both in and out of position. You can’t wait to have a big hand HU so you need to play hands you wouldn’t consider touching at a full table. If you can play your widest range well, then you will play your tighter ranges all the better.

In short, practice short-handed and HU as often as you can if you want better results or to improve your game.


Thanks for the advice @SunPowerGuru.

I’ve been trying to Improve my 9 handed play to be more successful in tournaments that are 9 players seated. So I’ll try to play 9 handed Sit and Go’s more often.

I’m pretty good at a 6 handed table and often make deep runs in MTT’s that are 6 handed.

I appreciate the advice.



the most important thing to winning is patience, there is no way to play the final table but to keep playing the way you got there Heads up well sometimes that is lucky of the draw but stick to your guns those guns that got to you to the play off, try steer clear of all ins as you are gambling. If you can get to the final table of a tournament there is nothing you should change.

just keep playing the way you did.

I think the majority of people that win tournaments would beg to differ :slightly_smiling_face:

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I agree Grandy, once u reach the final table there are so many factors to consider in your decision process on how to play to at least place then win. A few are on the bubble, some are short stacked, the chip count of the leader in 1st place relative to yours, blinds are now at their highest level, u have to make more adjustable decisions on betting ranges, the players are on top of their game and more competitive and better players in general for the most part, most new players u havnt seen during the rest of the tourney, the list goes further and many more factors but these are just a few of them for examples.


Yeah, you have to make adjustments at the final table. Trying to play a full table game heads up isn’t going to win many tournaments. As Florida pointed out, there are many differences.

A poker table is a poker table.
The only thing that changes is the tendencies of the people you are playing against. Study how they play and adjust accordingly.

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9-handed, you will have the best hand 11% of the time, 4-handed, 25% of the time, heads up 50% of the time. Do you really think these statistical facts have no impact on the game and your approach to it?

That’s just one of the many factors one should consider. You simply can’t play the same all the way through and expect to win.


Agree SPG. and actually you have to adjust your play at several points throughout the whole tourney, the adjustments are many different factors and adjusting your play increases in frequency as you get further along in the tourney and peaks out at the final table until placing and when u make it to showdown most adjustments are finished and now you just use your heads up tactics.


Yeah I agree. I divide a tournament into 7 stages, and only 2 of these take place before we get close to the “cash” bubble. Each stage has different goals and a different baseline strategy. My baseline strategies are then adjusted for “environmental” variables such as who is at my table, relative stacks, number of players seated, and several other factors.

It’s a lot more complicated than, “play the same the whole game.”


ya, even sitngo games u have to make similar adjustments throughout the game just at a much more condensed level, especially as players drop out. i think it would be nearly impossible to even win 1 tourney if u played the same way the whole time with no or even minimal adjustments. knowing and monitoring your opponents adjustments at a table also affects you having to make adjustments at certain times.obviously the more players in the tourney the more adjustments are likely to be made. but saying ’ a poker table is a poker table ’ is a pretty narrow minded way to view the game. that may be more so in a ring table but deff not in tourneys. even at a ring table u have to make minor adjustments as different players leave and come on to the table.


I posted this to another thread but might help new players here:

Tourney play:

1- You have a narrow window of small blinds when you should take more risk on hands and see more flops. Take advantage of that window to build up your stack with some big pots so you can survive the blinds as they increase.

2- As blinds increase take less risk but watch for vulnerable players sitting on the big blind. If they are slow playing to run out the clock then a double bet might get an easy fold with no risk.

3- Always be aware of where the Big Blind is and as it gets closer to you take more risk on a good hand to offset a possible bad hand on the blind.

4- Let other players take each other out if their stack is bigger than yours.The object is to stay on the table and let the big stacks fight it out. If you get into a battle between two big stacks your risk is alot greater so fold and let them battle it out unless you have a monster hand.

5- Look for vulnerable players with low chip count where you can go head to head. That is your best opportunity to pick up some hands on a fold as they try to run out the clock but be aware they are also more likely to all in you as a desperation play so you better have a good hand.

Ring games:

1- Your blinds stay constant so there is less risk and you can ride out a bad streak of cards but because of that the hands people will hold will generally be stronger than in a tourney. You will see more full houses and straights and less pairs because players are not under the gun of playing against blinds and the clock.

2- Because risk is lower you will see more players stay for the flop and that increases your risk so watch for hands to play when most of the players fold and you can get a heads up or fewer people in the hand. There may be times you want all the players to stay for the flop to build a big pot so be aware a big bet or playing bingo bet pre-flop is going to drive the money off the table.

3- Watch for players that fold alot and then suddenly throw out a big bet. They are laying for you and have the nuts and probably playing a big pair so you better have a good hand or fold and frustrate them.

4- Don’t let people fish to the river. If you have a winner on the flop and you can see a potential flush or straight then put out a hefty bet to drive off the players that are fishing.

5- Watch the plonkers that join and go all in right away and keep doing it. They are just playing the bonus chips they got that day and most never last more than a few hands but they do get lucky and will take you out on stupid hands. Better to fold and frustrate them. That is similar to tourney play at the start of a tourney.

Heads up:

Assuming you make it to the big show and survive to play heads up for the tourney hopefully you have a stack big enough to ride out bad hands because a tourney show down usually takes awhile as both players try to whittle each other down or look for that big all in to end it.

The object is to see the flop and have a hidden pair, straight or flush and then strike with an all in if you can tell your opponent is holding a weaker hand.

Once you have them whittled down enough that the blinds are starting to eat them they will get desperate and look for an all in to build their stack back up so play it cool and don’t give in to the temptation for a quick kill on an all in or you might rebuild their stack.

Keep playing to the flop on good hands and whittling them down to the point they make a mistake and don’t fish for cards and eventually they will get desperate enough you can capitalize on a big hand and take them down.

Just my opinion and hope it helps!


Great post and info for the newbies. More skilled players already know most or all of this but i think if the newbies would take the time to study a list or info like this then practice these things on the table, they would increase their win % and climb the ladder on their bankroll more quickly.

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Thank you!

BTW where did u find this list ? cause it saved me a lot of typing :slight_smile:

I actually wrote every word and that is my own strategy developed over years of playing on other poker websites.

I was a teacher for many years so developing strategies for students success is kind of my thing.

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 SnG is the game I like to play. This game teaches you mind skill, to read hands. Preflop skills, to control your money betting skills.All-in stradiges. Mind to Mind skills against  your opponents. You are constantly matching minds.  Even if loosing you learn your mistakes. When you win it is sweet. 

To me tournaments are long drawn out game with constantly bad hands and loosing chips in blind. Some how I never win often in tournaments. I have lost several hands just one hand from the pay line. and that don’t set to well.
SnG you will learn a lot.