TexasHoldem poker tournament strategy is like boxing strategy

Bob, weave, jab, duck... protect your stack!

The ideal Texas Holdem poker tournament strategy involves a series of confrontations, leading up to the final table and a stab at serious money.

Playing a multi-table poker tournament (MTT) is like being Rocky in one of those underdog-faces-the-giant movies. On the surface, it’s all about survival: cling on when the punches rain down, keep yourself alive long enough to pick the right moment to strike.

Don’t wait too long to throw that death-or-glory haymaker. Try to remember this piece of holy wisdom:

It is better to throw in the towel after a shot at the title than to cling on and hope for the bell to save your bacon.

I’ve begun with this boxing analogy. Now I’m stuck with it, let’s see what it can teach us about Texas Holdem poker tournament strategy.

Everybody begins an MTT fresh, with an equal chance of winning. Soon, that illusion is stripped away, as the lucky, or skillful, players begin to outpunch their opponents.

It’s important to keep moving. Stay still, and they’ll pick you off with jabs. Remember that every time the blinds double in size, your stack is effectively worth half what it was before.


Think about it. Let's get extreme. You are in a ten-seat table. Blinds are 5,000-10,000, so it costs 15,000 per round for blinds. You have 150,000 chips. So you have ten rounds to play before being blinded out of the poker tournament.

But if the blinds double, to 10,000-20,000, it now costs 30,000 per round. Your stack can now survive only five rounds. So it has been effectively halved in value.

Back to the boxing.

You’ll pick up bruises and cuts along the way: times you made a bluff at the pot but got reraised, or times when your pocket pair got outflopped by three overcards. This is part of tournament poker. Patch up the damage and do your best to avoid the knockout punch.

Enough boxing already!

There’s no disgrace in losing a hand that would have given you a shot at building a tournament-winning stack, if you’d won it. The very worst Texas Holdem poker tournament strategy is to wait and wait and wait, and suddenly realise that the blinds have eaten up your entire stack.

More aggressive opponents, who have stolen the blinds regularly, will be in a much happier place.