Norman dba "Cardluvr" MTT Tips
One of the best online MTT players that I know was kind enough to ship this sweet guest blog (at my request).
The first thing I want to say is---there is no one guaranteed foolproof way to play winning hold'em. There are several things that come into play to be successful, beginning with luck. If you never get any decent cards, eventually you will lose. If you always get great cards and hit all your draws, you can win even if you are a donkey! For the 99% of players who fall somewhere in between, there are some things to remember that will help you win more than your share. It is important to be able to play more than one style, meaning, if you are always aggressive, or always tight, other players will see that and eventually use that against you.
You must be able to change gears. You should come out early in a tournament showing a certain style of play, and then when your opponents think they have you measured, change pace. By the time they figure out what you are doing, you might have won several big pots. You have to be willing to lose a few chips to sell your style. If you want to be seen as a calling station, you have to call to the river with nothing and then fold a few times. Trust me, many players will make note of this, and later when you flop the nuts, they will bet out and build the pot for you, because they think you will fold on the river. I like the trap play, because it is possible to win large pots by trapping. (This probably follows because my biggest weakness is impatience----I can't wait to win all those chips!).
In order to use the trap play successfully, you have to be able to read the style of play of your opponents. It is easier to trap aggressive players, because they bet out more often, with any kind of hand. If you have established yourself as a calling station, when you flop a monster they will do most of the betting for you, and you can raise them out of the pot, or take down a big payoff if they don't believe you.
Tight players are more difficult to trap, but it can be done, using a lot of patience and good reads. It is important to learn (and remember) what tight players' tendencies are. Do they only play with pocket pairs? Will they only enter a pot with an Ace in their hand? If you have a good read on a player, you will know when he hits a flop, and if you hit it too, you can bet out, feeling confident he will call. Don't forget, though-----a tight player is more likely to call an all in when he hits the flop, so don't push unless you have the absolute nuts. Obviously, you aren't going to win every time you try to trap. Don't be afraid to fold a hand if you aren't sure your hand is best. It's better to throw in a winning hand once in a while, than to push with a loser.
In a tournament, if you go all in and lose, your tournament is over. I have read many books on poker, and I try not to pattern myself after any particular player, but rather I try to use a little bit from all of them. People are not all alike, so I believe everyone has to establish their own game that suits them best. I think the important things to remember are being able to vary your style of play, being able to read your opponent's style of play, and to exercise patience! You also have to have confidence in your ability, because if you go into a tournament thinking the other players are better than you, you quite likely will lose.
You won't win every time you play, so don't waste time complaining to yourself (or others) about how unlucky you were. Remember where you made mistakes, or bad reads, and use that knowledge to do better the next time out. See you at the tables!
Take care. Norman