How to win in poker tournaments if you keep getting bad cards

Just like in cash games, in MTT there are times when you’re dealt junk time after time. And while in the first case you can simply wait for good cards without doing anything drastic, in a tournament you can’t afford that luxury. In a game like this, mandatory installments will eat up your stack quickly, which means you can forget about winning.

Ross Jarvis suggests not giving up in such situations, but acting more aggressively. Clearly, kings or aces are great cards to attack, but if you get them too infrequently, you should use what you have at hand. Let’s talk about it with BestAuCasinosOnline.


Raising in a late position in the preflop with any cards has been proven to be an effective way to steal blinds. This is despite the fact that many people will understand your intentions, but don’t expect frequent responses to steal.

Depending on your opponent’s level and play style, stealing can be a very effective way of taking other players’ blinds and ante. Often, opponents don’t have a ready hand or are tight enough to respond to your bet.

You should start picking opponents against whom steal can be beneficial as soon as you are placed at the table. Keep an eye out for those who fold often. With a consistent blindfold, use steal more often, even from early or middle positions. But be careful of auto-responders and hyper-aggressive opponents: they can force you to fold by making a rake.

And don’t go overboard stealing blinds early in the tournament: the ante is usually not there yet, and the mandatory bets are relatively small. Better wait until the later stages: at least the middle stage. Then steal will become very profitable, sometimes increasing your stack by 10-20%.

Of course, don’t forget that at some point some players will realize your intentions. Then they’ll begin to resist stacking with a wider range of hands. This is especially true in online tournaments, where the game is played quite aggressively. By this time, polarise your range so that there are not only weak hands but also strong hands.

When it comes to betting, you need to understand that in most cases no one will want to risk their chips on a weak hand. This means that even 2.5 BB will be enough for successful stealing in real money casinos.

A 3-4 BB rake will certainly have an effect, but the rare cases where you will be raised with strong cards are not worth the effort. Why bet more when your opponent will also fold on a mini-raise?

Appropriate use of stealing allows you to build up a decent stack of chips before they figure you out and take serious counter-measures. Especially when you have a really strong hand, you have a chance of taking a big pot, because your opponents simply won’t believe you.


Your resteal or even all-in on your opponent’s raise, presumably for the purpose of stealing the blinds, is a very formidable move. In most cases, your opponent will have no choice but to fold his hand.

This kind of aggressive action on your part when you’re on the batton or blinds is very effective, even without the presence of strong cards. The main goal here is to take the pot even in the preflop instead of just giving it to your opponent.

The greatest benefit from this tactic is gained in the middle to late stages of tournaments. At that time, the mandatory stakes are already quite high, and the stack size is relatively small in relation to them.

Not many people will flush your 3-bet with air, as they will be afraid of making a strong hand. Of course, some will make 4-bets of different card strengths against you, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.

When restealing, pay close attention to the size of your stack: 17-23 big blinds would be the best. You’ll give your opponent poor pot odds, and they’ll only be able to answer you at the top of his open-raise range.

Plus, pay attention to your opponent’s play style: they’ll be a better candidate if they are a loose-aggressive player with a lot of weak hands. But trying to steal blinds from someone who is rarely aggressive is dangerous. As a rule, you’ll run into strong cards.

Also, don’t wait until your own stack reaches 8-12 BB. That way, your opponents will find it profitable to even call your bets, even with marginal hands.

And most importantly: it’s not always a good idea to resteal with any two cards, because you’ll still get a return sometimes, and you should do it more often with pocket pairs.

Aggressive play on the big blind

If all but the small blindfolds, and the player in that seat tries to go in with a flop, a raise can be a good decision. You’ll either win the pot immediately, or you’ll gain the initiative after the flop.

This is especially true in the middle to late stages of a tournament when the ante is already in play and the blinds are draining the stacks quite substantially. Again: even a call from a small blind isn’t a tragedy. You can hit the flop and have a position advantage.

In most cases, the strength of your hand doesn’t matter: you’ll simply profit from your opponent’s weakness. The only pitfall here is going to be a very smart player who will try to bust with a monster hand. Try to read such opponents beforehand, so you can make a check or be prepared to fold on a small blind.

Squeeze play

If you see that after one of your opponents raises, someone replies with a call, you can try squeeze play.

That’s pretty effective because the first player is likely to have a weak hand and was raiding to take the pot. And the caller is even more likely to wait for the flop with some marginal hands. If they weren’t, they’d be raising themselves, right?

Your goal is to squeeze both (or even more) players out of the pot and take all the money on the table for yourself. It’s better to bet at least 5-6 times the amount you’re offering to call.


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