During the middle of the poker tournament, we typically begin seeing the introduction of antes.  The blinds increase, and the combination of blinds plus antes begins placing pressure upon the average tournament player’s chip count.  During a poker tournament’s early stages, we obtained most of our chips after the flop.  In the middle of the poker tournament, we are going to shift our focus to before the flop as our primary bread winner.

During the poker tournament’s middle stages, pots are now worthwhile to attack before the flop.  Additionally, with the cost of playing poker on the rise, players are now more willing to fold hands before the flop which they would have normally played had the price of poker been cheaper.  As a result, we are able to successfully steal, we can effectively isolate players, and most importantly, the pots are now worth the steal efforts prior to the flop.

As the cost of poker has increased for everyone else, it has also increased for us.  As a result, we will tighten up, no longer playing speculative hands like seven – eight suited from early positions.  The value of suited aces, as well as pocket pairs increase and should be realized before the flop.  Our raises are pushed out before the flop to gain isolation, as well as to announce that we have a good hand.  During the tournament’s middle stages, we begin playing less deceptively and more manipulatively by pushing players around with our raises.

Bet Sizing in the Middle Stages of the Poker Tournament

During the tournament’s middle stages, size matters.  We must maintain an acute level of awareness as to how much we are betting, so as to not commit an opposing player to a pot without intending to do so.  Most specifically, we have to be mindful of the short stack players at the table.  It is easy to find ourselves raising, only to see the short stack blow over the top with an all-in, thus putting the tougher decision to us.  Ideally, we should size our raises to make the decision tough for the short stack, as opposed to complicating ourselves with the decision of calling or folding.  By raising an amount that makes calling automatic when and if the short stack moves over the top simplifies the decision making process for us, while making life for other players as challenging as possible.

Stealing Blinds

When playing from later position, specifically when the pot has not been opening, we want to become extremely aggressive in our efforts to steal the pot before the flop.  When folded to on the button or in the cutoff position, a raise is nearly automatic.  We should try to steal from late position during the mid-stages of the poker tournament when in position and the opportunity arises.

Turn up the Aggression

By turning up the aggression before the flop, we establish dominance over the table by manipulating weak players into folding.  Pots become worthwhile to take down before the flop thanks to increasing blinds and the introduction of antes.  By taking pots down before and on the flop with tight, aggressive play; we can watch our chip count rise during the tournament‘s middle stages.