If you want to learn how to win No Limit tournaments, you need to first recognize that the tournaments go through very distinct phases. This post will deal with the first phase of a ten-player tournament where everyone starts at the same table. The specifics of various tournaments might change depending on which site you are playing at. I play at Titan Poker and I have enjoyed the game there very much. The game itself is easy to play, and most of the players are pleasant enough to deal with, and there is not much chatter.
At the beginning of each tournament, each player gets 1500 chips, and they stay in the game as long as they have chips. At the beginning of each hand two players have "blind bets", which means they must bet before seeing their cards. One player has the "big blind", which equals the minimum bet for this hand. The other player has the "small blind", which is half this amount. Every few minutes the blind bet amount goes up, starting at 20 chips and going up until the tournament is over. I have never seen the blind go over 600.
Here are the basic strategies I follow in the early phase, which is from the start until only 5 or 6 players remain:
1. Survival is key! You can't win unless you make it until the end. Do go off on a wild bluffing spree, because more often than not you will get busted. Bet only when you have something good.
2. When you have something good, be aggressive, but be ready to jump out if you sense that the other player has something good. You don't need to come out of phase one as the chip leader, but you do need to come out as a survivor!
3. Try to see some cheap flops, even if you have questionable cards. This helps create opportunities to win big. If you are holding a 7 and a 2, and another person has a pair of aces, you might be able to win a bunch of chips if you happen to hit your cards on the flop. It doesn't happen often, but when it does it is sure worth it. That's why you try to get into some cheap flops...just be careful you don't get raised out too often, though.
4. Be careful with aces that don't have good undercards...they are not particularly good cards to play in large groups, as there is usually at least one more ace out there along with a higher card. That's a tough situation to win in.
5. Watch for "monster" players, who want to go all-in on every second hand. Let them take each other out, and be ready to pounce on them when you do happen to have a killer hand.
There's a lot more to think about of course, and much of it depends on what other players are doing, but these are nuances that really have to be learned in a more in depth strategy guide, and practiced in real play.
My next post will cover the middle phase of the tournament.