How to apply the concept of poker player levels to online poker tournaments?

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Mark | Poker Articles, Poker Strategy, Poker Tournament

This article belongs to the Poker Tournament series.

If you are not familiar with the concept of poker player levels start by reading my article: Poker player levels revisited. Having read my article, I will assume you are now a level 3 poker player :-).

I will use the following situation as a starting point for my discussion:
You are playing an online poker tournament and you pick up 7 diamonds 8 hearts in middle position. A player in early position raises 3xBB and you call. The rest of the table folds. The flop comes 6 diamonds, 5 diamonds, K spades. Your opponent bets ¾ of the pot. What do you do?

Being a level 3 poker player you will have already put your opponent on a hand range. With the current flop it is likely that he has hit top pair. Your next job is to figure out what your opponent thinks you have.

If it’s early in an online poker tournament chances are you are up against a level 1 poker player who doesn’t even consider what you have. He has hit top pair and is prepared to go all the way with it. If this is the case you won’t be able to push him out of the pot, so you don’t have the additional value of your opponent folding if you move all in. In addition, if it’s early in the tournament your stack sizes won’t justify a call. You are better off folding in this spot and probably should have folded preflop in the first place.

The situation described above changes later in online poker tournament. Here the probability of facing a level 2 or level 3 player increases. In addition you are likely to be playing with deeper stacks. All of the sudden an all in raise to your opponents flop bet makes more sense. A level 2 or level 3 player might still call you, but your chances of your opponent folding are bigger and if you get called you still have outs to win. These are the kind of situations you need to seek out in order to win online poker tournaments.

In conclusion, your chances of winning an online poker tournament will improve if you are at a higher poker level than your opponents simply because in addition to winning chips from your own hands, you can also win chips by outplaying your opponents. However, take care to pick your spots only against players that are susceptible to your moves and at times where the other factors such as stack sizes and position at the table are in your favor.

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