Tournament poker cannot be played the same as a cash game. If you lose all your chips in a cash game, you can always buy more. In a tournament you are finished, once the chips are gone.
Aggressive play is what seems to be needed in order to win a tournament. The cards rarely run over one player and make that player unbeatable. It can happen, but do not count on it.
Early in a Hold'em tournament, a player can play small-connected suited cards. Even an ace six can be played. As the blinds go up and the cost of calling rises, the better starting hands should be played, unless you feel you can run a stone cold bluff.
Learn to play in tournaments by playing in small entry games, and then as your skill level rises, increase to the higher entry fee games. The skill level in high entry tournaments is a much better quality than you will find in low entry games. The first goals are to gather chips early, play safe in the middle if you can, and then press it near the end. Try to at least make the money and then the final table.
Pairs are big hands when accompanied with a raise. Suited high cards are also better playing starting hands. Lousy starting hands should be folded and no chips wasted on them. Your chip stack size will give you control of the table, when it is substantially more than the other players have. Testing the water with a small raise is very helpful in sizing up the other players' hands. When they call without hesitation, you know they have a hand to play. Check raising a powerful hand will sometimes let you milk a pot for more money. If you try it once and you are called, do not hesitate to do it again, if you still think you have the winning hand.
Fold small pairs, if the people in front of you are raising. If no one raises, raise yourself. Tournament poker is also power poker. Aggressive raising can go a long way to letting you win with lesser hands. Trapping with trips is a good play in Hold'em tournaments. Ace king is not a sure winner, although many players play the hand like it is. High pairs can easily win many hands in Holdem. Play them like aces, unless you are significantly raised. Respect conservative players' reputations when playing in tournaments.
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