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Jonathan Little's Top 10 Tournament Tips

Jonathan Little
  • @JonathanLittle shares his current top 10 tournament tips to review before, during & after you play.

  • Put opponents on ranges (not specific hands), play pots in position and other top tournament tips.

After writing numerous books and teaching thousands of poker players over the last decade or so, one of the questions I get asked most often is, "What are your best tips for poker tournaments?"

While it's incredibly hard to pick just a few best pieces of advice, here are my current top 10 tournament tips:

Tournament Tip #1

Always put your opponent on a RANGE OF HANDS rather than a specific hand.

Tournament Tip #2:

You MUST get well out of your comfort zone and blatantly exploit your opponents' weaknesses if you want to become a big winner.

Tournament Tip #3

When the effective stack is greater than 40 BBs, try to play lots of pots in position, especially when you think you can get heads-up against opponents who play poorly postflop.

Tournament Tip #4

Value bet when you think you have the best hand most of the time AND you think your opponent will call with most of his range.

Tournament Tip #5

Be less inclined to value bet when losing will leave you with a significantly less profitable stack.

Tournament Tip #6

Against players who play too many hands too passively:

Value bet them relentlessly.
  • Fold to them when they apply significant pressure.
  • Bluff them on later streets when they have a marginal hand AND you think they will fold.

Tournament Tip #7

Against players who play too many hands too aggressively:

  • Realize they often have marginal hands even when they apply pressure.
  • They will usually fold if you apply aggression.
  • If you induce them to bluff, do not fold decently strong holdings.
  • Bluff them on scary boards.

Tournament Tip #8

Against players who play too few hands too passively: 

  • Relentlessly steal their blinds.
  • Fold to their aggression.

Tournament Tip #9

Against players who play too few hands too aggressively: 

  • They are usually not capable of folding hands they perceive as strong.
  • Play hands with huge implied odds.
  • Do not stack off with hands worse than top pair, top kicker.
  • Relentlessly steal their blinds.

Tournament Tip #10

Against players who play well:

  • If your opponent thinks you're tight, bluff a lot.
  • If your opponent thinks you're wild, play tightly.
  • Apply aggression in intelligent spots.
  • Fold when it is clear they want to put money in the pot.
  • It is usually smart to avoid them and focus on the weak players.

If you enjoyed these tips, I actually put together a two-page poker tournament cheat sheet which contains:

  • 43 of my best tournament tips
  • 6 things you should focus on BEFORE a tournament
  • 11 things you should focus on DURING a tournament
  • 6 things you should focus on AFTER a tournament

While my cheat sheet is no substitute for working on your game away from the table, it's a great tool to review before you play a tournament or during every break.

If you'd like a copy of my tournament cheat sheet, you can get it at

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,400,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

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