One of the most difficult things for beginning poker tournament players to deal with in terms of poker strategy involves rising blinds. As experienced players know, the further you get into a tourney, the more blinds force you to play aggressively in order to stay alive. Unfortunately, many recreational tournament players either don’t get this concept, or tighten up in order to keep the chips they have. So for the sake of both parties, let’s take a quick look at some strategy for stealing in poker tournaments.
Stealing pots doesn’t play a real big part early in poker tournaments due to the low blinds-to-stack-size ratio. After all, why bet a fourth of your starting stack with marginal cards when your 1,500 chips amount to 50 big blinds? But when you get to the point where blinds are 200/400 and your stack is worth 2,400 chips, you don’t have a whole lot of orbits left before desperation mode hits.
Before that point happens, you need to look for stealing opportunities frequently. The three spots where you should be looking to steal are from the cut-off, the button and the small blind because fewer players are left to act. It always helps matters if there’s non-aggressive players to your left, but even if there aren’t, you’ll probably need to steal at some point anyways.
Besides position, the other really important concept here involves your cards. Now if you’re trying to steal a hand, obviously you aren’t doing it with pocket aces. But just because you’re trying to steal a pot doesn’t mean you should be doing it with 8-4(o). Good cards to steal with include any two overcards, suited connectors from 8-9 and up, as well as A-x and K-x (possibly Q-x if your stack is low enough).
The closer your stack gets to blinding out, the more you have to open up your stealing range. Also, keep in mind that if your stack is below 10 big blinds, you should be shoving on every steal attempt.