Step Tournament Strategies

Deanna Goodson - 21 May 2009

Step tournaments are a great way to play your way to the top.

In the step process, there are multiple-levels with different buy-ins. In essence, each of these levels is a sit & go. The lower the step, the lower the buy-in (and the converse is true). Steps are a great way for players to get to a big buy-in tournament on a budget. (Note: steps may vary in level and buy-in size depending upon the poker room you use. For our purposes, we are using a six-step process based on six-handed tables.)

During each step, the top two players move on to the next level. The third player will get the opportunity to replay the level without having to pay the buy-in again. Therefore, they get a second shot to move along.

Of course, if your budget allows, you don’t have to start at the first step. You can go as high or as low as you want to. Often times, step tournaments are turbo at least for the first few levels. They are great ways for players who like one table tournaments to get in on the high stakes and live action events.

Now that you have a basic understanding of Steps’ tournaments, why not consider following these strategies.

  1. Play tight during the first few levels. Let other players risk their tournament lives while the blinds are low. The more players who bust out early, the closer you are to your goal. 
  2. Play for the replay. Try to make the level where you can replay the event. Then, at that point, you can turn up the aggression and go for broke. You’ll either win or get a chance to play again. Either way, it’s not a bad trade off. 
  3. Don’t worry about the top spot. Just make it to the lowest spot you need to win the seat. Remember, more than one player gets the prize. There’s no penalty for being the second-biggest chip leader. If someone is way ahead of you, don’t tussle with them. Let them do their thing and knock the others out so you can be standing at the end with them. 
  4. Keep an eye on who’s already qualified. Some players want just one seat; others are playing for multiples. A player who already has a seat may take more chances and is, therefore, harder to play against. Stick to the players who haven’t won their seats and go toe to toe with them. Your aggression will pay off better here.
  5. Don’t give up. If you receive a bad beat or make a mistake, don’t write off the entire tournament. Tournaments are won with determination, skill and tenacity. Dig your heels in and try to double-up once, twice or more if need be. Who knows – you may surprise yourself pleasantly!

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