Texas Holdem : Accumulating Chips
One of the biggest problems new Texas Hold’em poker players have when they enter the tournament arena is accumulating chips. Obviously if you are playing in a poker tournament the objective is to win all of the chips and eliminate each player. That is a lot easier said than done. You need good fundamentals, feel and control of your emotions if you are going to win a poker tournament. Most books will tell you to play tight early and look for premium hands to get involved. I have a twist on that particular approach. That is not to say that playing tight early is good or bad but there are certainly different approaches to accumulating chips outside of that thinking.
Hand ranges allow you to use the element of surprise. When I first started playing in Texas Holdem poker tournaments I would close my range of hands to [A][K], [A][A]-[T][T] early in the tournament. The reason for that is that you actually have a made hand pre-flop and that ultimately will win you the pot in most situations early on. However, playing premium hands has its downside too if you are not carful. Some players tend to get married to these premium hands and get busted by smaller pairs or unseen straights. Many times you will either win a small pot or lose a big pot with premium hands. Yes, you will win some large pots with them as well but you need to be prepared to fold if you sense you are beat.
Conversely you have non-premium hand ranges and this is where you can accumulate a lot of chips relatively quickly. Hands such as [J][T], , [J],  and small pairs are all hands that I will play when in the blinds or I have position on my opponent. I will also call small raises in position with these hands because they are disguised hands. If the flop hits you hard and you happen to be up against a big pair you are going to take down a large pot a lot of times. The key to playing these hands is being able to fold when the odds are not in your favor to your draw. Remember, players with big premium hands are going to bet out big after the flop. This gives you an opportunity to check call and value bet the river. A couple of these kinds of hands early in the tournament can get you off to an incredible start with a large stack and plenty of time to continue building your stack.
Play More Hands
Unless you are just getting hit in the face by the deck you have got to get involved in pots. That means that you must play more hands. If you are fortunate enough to double up early on you cannot sit back as if you are going to cruise magically into the final table. You still need to be looking for opportunities to build your stack even more and that means getting involved with speculative hands when the situation dictates. It also means playing your flush draws hard instead of just flat calling or check calling. Once you have chips you can put pressure on your opponent(s) and that means you have more leverage to win the pot which is in your favor.
Good fundamental Texas Hold’em poker strategy will also get you plenty of chips. You have got to be smart when you are involved in hands with other players. Courtesy double ups cannot be an option for you. If one of the smaller stacks has you beat then fold your hand and wait for a better spot. There is no need in doubling up a player for no reason. Bet out your strong hands as you normally would. In general, you need to continue executing solid poker strategy. If you can do that and have the deck continue to break even for you things will work out well in the long run.
Curtis Mayfield III
Texas Holdem - best practices
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