Jonathan Little's Top 10 Tournament Tips

Jonathan Little

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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