Single table

This section is a guide on how to win the single table no-limit tournaments which are very popular at places like Party Poker. The buy-ins range from $5 to $100, so play whatever you can bank.

The goal is to come in first 20% of the time and second or third 40% of the time. This yields a profit of about the entry buy-in over the long run. So if you play a $10 buy-in, you can expect to make $10 every time you play, if you achieve the goal.

The way we’ve written this strategy guide is by the blind size. Note: The overall strategy is to get ahead quickly and stay ahead, or to not die and then quickly come back later. In other words, you’ll become the boss of the table throughout the game if you get good cards and get lucky early, or you’ll be hanging in there until the late rounds when you make a big move.


In $10-$15 or $10-$20 regular games, aim to trap a big hand if possible and double up. Don’t be afraid to call or go to the flop with a marginal hand that has high implied odds. So, in an unraised pot, we’d go in with 7-8 suited, because if you hit the hand well, you can get paid off quite nicely.

In $15-30 or $25-$50 games: Tight-aggressive play when possible, aim to win a big pot, but avoid putting yourself all-in or seriously depleting your stack. In layman’s terms, play only good hands (the top tier), but don’t be afraid to play them strongly.

In $50-$100 or $100-$200 games: You’re in three possible situations after the first 30 hands at these blinds:

  1. You’re shortstacked you can only afford about four big blinds at this level, and those big blinds are just going to get more expensive. Go all-in with ace and a high card, or any pair pre-flop (provided another person hasn’t bet for a lot already). You want enough chips to survive and get into at least third place.
  2. You’re large-stacked, because you won a big hand in those first 30. Don’t let people double through, though try to continue to increase slowly and avoid a big confrontation unless you clearly have the best of it. Steal the blinds a lot when you have a decent hand—just put in the minimal raise. Your goal is to win, not to place.
  3. You’re very short i.e., you’re almost out. You’ve got to fight and fight quick. Take a couple of long shots, go all in with K-Q if you have it, etc. There’s nothing worse than being blinded to death. If you’re the big blind and can only afford one to two more big blinds, go all in no matter what (so if you paid the big blind of $50 and have about $75 in reserve, go all-in no matter what).