Over recent years, we’ve entered into a new era of online poker: an era where the skill gap has narrowed between fish and sharks. The never-ending rake increases have forced marginal winners or break-even players into losing players. This situation has allowed only the top players to stay afloat.

As a result, it’s imperative that you continue to develop your strategies and improve your poker skills if you want to get to and/or stay in Profit Ville.

To help you out, here are the top 10 tips specifically for online poker tournaments that we’ve compiled to help increase your edges (however marginal they may be) over other players.

The Best Online Poker Tournaments Tips Are:

  1. Take Notes and Mark Your Opponents
  2. Always Use a HUD
  3. Use “Officialpokerrankings” During Deep Runs
  4. Size Your Opens Well
  5. Take More Chances in Bounty Tournaments
  6. Choose Appropriate Tournaments Based on BRM
  7. Close Down More Tables as You Run Deep
  8. Don’t Have Unnecessary Distractions
  9. Use Your 5-Minute Breaks Effectively
  10. Play as Many Tables as You Profitably Can


Tip 1: Take Notes and Mark Your Opponents

This step can include taking both in-game notes on your opponents and also be relevant for off-table study sessions of your fellow players. Many sites also allow you to “colour code” your opponents, allowing you to categorise them in a quick, visually-appealing manner that helps identify their player type easily.

This way, if you come across the same player later in a tournament (or even in another tournament altogether in the future, which is especially accurate and relevant on smaller sites), you will already have info to help assist you in your decisions versus this opponent.

Additionally, having simplified notes and colour-coded systems in place will significantly help you out when multi-tabling (when the amount of time it takes for each decision matters even more!).

Tip 2: Always Use a HUD

This point almost goes without saying! If you’re not using a HUD (Heads-Up Display) to help identify your opponents’ tendencies and assist you with categorising them, then you’re putting yourself at a severe disadvantage against all the other players who are!

HUDs will help you dramatically when multi-tabling. They will also help you recall some tendencies of opponents that you might not remember from memory when you first reencounter them.

Tip 3: Use “Officialpokerrankings” During Deep Runs

This tip, of course, is more applicable for larger sites that make public the results of their tournaments and players over time. On www.officialpokerrankings.com, you can search players by screen name and then see various helpful statistics like their typical buy-in. You can also see if they have many deep runs or cashes, and other useful info (if they’ve opted-in for such stats) like ROI, average buy-in, tournaments played, etc.


If you’re running deep and aren’t familiar as much with the remaining player pool, using this free website can be an excellent way to see which of your opponents may carry with them more experience and positive results than others into final table situations.

Subsequently, this can help you categorise your opponents and get a feel as to how to better play against them (i.e. fish or pro).

Tip 4: Size Your Opens Well

If you’re a tournament grinder, use the betting pre-set buttons to help you quickly size your opens correctly at the various stages of a tournament. In online tournaments, you can see the stack sizes everyone has at all times (and subsequently determine the number of big blinds each player has at any given moment). You should ensure that you correctly size your opens - keeping in mind both the average table stack as well as the table’s dynamics.

This fact usually means sizing down when shorter stacked and opening to a more traditional, larger amount when deep-stacked, like at the beginning of a tournament.

Tip 5: Take More Chances in Bounty Tournaments

Sometimes, you’re faced with a “close spot” in a bounty tournament where you have more chips than your opponent and can win their bounty by putting them all-in. This added factor should usually be enough reason for you to want to take the chance and go with it. (This point is especially valid when progressive bounties are in play.) Don’t be overly reckless in taking these chances, but don’t be too conservative either.

Additionally, if players in these tournaments often are willing to take more chances to stack you and gain your bounty, then remember the implications on the flip side. Probably being a bit more conservative when risking your own stack is better, as you might get looked up slightly more than otherwise.

Tip 6: Choose Appropriate Tournaments Based on BRM

With a plethora of tournament options to choose from (especially on major sites), make sure that you continue to play within the means of your poker bankroll when selecting your tournaments. With the variance that tournaments carry, you can go an extreme length of time without having any major significant cash, even if you’re a solid player.

Ensure that you’re playing proper BRM for the game type you’re playing, too. For example, hyper-turbos are going to have significantly more variance than slow-structured tournaments (where skill will play a more significant role in the results).

Consequently, you should have a higher total number of buy-ins required (re bankroll) for these higher-variance tourneys than you would otherwise.

Tip 7: Close Down More Tables as You Run Deep

The ends of the tournaments are where the most money is awarded. It’s where you have the opportunity to make your biggest ROI from a tournament. Because of this, it’s essential that as you run deep online, don’t start any new/unnecessary tables or tournaments. These will distract you from paying closer attention to your opponents and zoning in on what they’re doing well or poorly during the endgame of this particular tournament.

This laser-focused attention you’ll be able to call upon from not being distracted with other tables will pay you loads of rewards in the form of better finishes.

Tip 8: Don’t Have Unnecessary Distractions

In the comfort of your own home, it’s easy to have the TV turned on, music blaring, family and friends to talk to, or your phone vibrating with notifications The Internet can be too readily available to surf, and more distractions of the like.


If you want to be profitable when playing poker, though, then you must treat your poker seriously as if it were a business. You won’t ever find top athletes distracted when it’s gameday; similarly, eliminate all of the distractions around your computer so that you can zone in on what really matters.

Tip 9: Use Your 5-Minute Breaks Effectively 

Long poker sessions are very mentally taxing on the brain. As a result, it’s vital to use the breaks you get every hour as effectively as possible to reset your mind and allow it to rest (albeit slight). Go outside; get some fresh air; get some blood circulating in your legs; go to the bathroom; refill your water bottle.

Your mind will work best when it’s able to have those “breathers” every hour. Don’t put them to waste – especially when you run deep and have been putting in a long session already!

Tip 10: Play as Many Tables as You Profitably Can

Variance dissipates with enough volume. This fact means that if you have a pretty good idea of your win rate and ROI for tournaments, the more tournaments you play, the more you’ll likely achieve that target “norm” for yourself. Therefore, you should aim to multi-table as much as you can without it creating a hindrance on your decision-making abilities, as you’ll be able to ultimately profit more this way.

If you have trouble multi-tabling, drop down to the lowest stakes possible for tournaments and fire up one table more than you usually do - then another - and ultimately another. The point of playing these penny or $1 tournaments is not so much for ROI or $$$ gain, but rather to allow you to improve your multi-tabling skills without it having too much of a negative hindrance on your bankroll (if any).

In Conclusion

This article aims to compile a list of online-specific tips to help you improve your tournament game. In addition to the study of tournament strategy, use these concept tips to help supplement your tournament strategy and allow you to continue to stay afloat in today’s games.

Good luck at the felts!

Matthew Cluff is a poker player who specialises in 6-Max No Limit Hold’em games. He also periodically provides online poker content for various sites.