Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

Attention Cash Game Players! You Need To Raise More In Tournaments!

by Alex Fitzgerald |  Published: Dec 28, 2022


Get a free training package at

How does one approach a tournament after cutting their teeth in cash games?

Of course, this is a subject that could cover an entire book, but we don’t have the space for that. Instead, let’s talk about some quick tips that cash grinders can use before their next poker tournament.

Attack The Big Blind

It is always striking how patient you can be in most cash games. It doesn’t matter how tight you have been playing the entire day. Seemingly no one wants to fold at most cash game tables! This is especially true at the lower stakes.

You can make a good living just sitting on your ass and playing premiums. Such are the luxuries afforded to a player when the blinds never go up.

Once in a while, a loose raiser will open and a loose player will call. That’s your opportunity to put in a big squeeze, even with hands like a suited-gapper. Should both of the players fold you can show the 7-4 suited and say, “that’s my favorite hand.” This will get you action for weeks.

In tournaments however we do not have the luxury of time. We need to attack. How do we do so?

You have probably heard the old trope about trying to steal the blinds. But that advice is not as applicable as it used to be, because no one wants to fold their big blind!

Does that mean we should lay off them? No. We want them calling out of the big blind.

If you use any database management tool in online poker you will see that absolutely no one is making money when they call out of the big blind. Instead, they are only trying to save fractions of their big blind. They’re still losing a quarter of a big blind at a time, a half big blind at a time, or more. That money has to go to someone, and that someone should be you.

Who Is Going To Three-Bet You?

So, now we know that we’re making half a big blind every time the big blind flats us. That’s not an exact number, but let’s use that estimate for today’s purposes
The question then becomes how do we set up that situation as much as possible?

We can raise in late position. That’s an obvious strategy to set up this heads-up situation consistently.

However, sometimes it’s not folded to us in late position as often as we want. This means that we will need to try and raise from earlier position to get to the big blind.
This is when we are going to have to study the players to our left. How often do they three-bet? If they are only cold calling us, they’re giving us a free flop, so we still have a great chance to make money.

If the opponents to our left have short stacks they are far more likely to three-bet us with an all-in. If they are more conservative players than they are unlikely to reassert themselves and retake their position. We should open more.

Let’s say you have a hand like K-3 suited. That’s not a hand you should often play in cash games. It makes a lot of second-best flushes which can get extremely expensive when the pots reach more than 200 big blinds.

However, in poker tournaments if nobody wants to three-bet you and the big blind keeps calling you then you can open up and play this hand. You still don’t love playing this hand, but due to the escalating blinds and the advantageous table you are going to get out of line.

Small Continuation Bets

It is also important that we realize when someone calls us out of the big blind they are calling us with seemingly any hand. They could have more than 50% of the preflop hands in the deck!

That means on most flops they are going to completely miss. This is what happens when you play so many hands with little post-flop potential. Ragged high cards and offsuit middle cards cannot make flush and straight draws easily.

Your opponent is going to miss most of the time and be out of position. This puts you in an advantageous spot. You can bet small and get most of these players to fold. They simply wanted to see if they would hit the flop. They’re not much more interested after that.

If you bet 25% of the pot, your bet as a complete bluff only needs to work 20% of the time. That means your opponent needs to defend versus your bet 80% of the time. That’s going to be awfully difficult when they are missing half the time and are out of position.

Three-Bet More

This game plan will see you attacking and getting further in tournaments with controlled aggression. There’s only one thing that can stop you, and that’s if there is someone else at the table who is trying to employ the same strategy.

If someone else at the table is continually raising preflop and trying to attack the blinds, then you will be forced to reraise them. You cannot allow them to take away every single steal position.

Remember, in these situations you don’t necessarily need a premium hand. You just need a hand that is better than the crap the frequent opener is raising with.

If you want to learn more about reraising loose openers, you can do so by checking out the free masterclass I put on my site. You can get the three-betting package for free when you sign up for the mailing list at


When we first play poker tournaments it seems so much more fast-paced compared to cash games. The blinds go up frequently, and the players seem to think the Monopoly money chips can be thrown about carelessly.

To start opening up our game we need to simply raise more to get the big blind heads up. The more big pots we get people to play out-of-position with us the better things will go.

Alexander FitzgeraldOpening more when people are not reraising us is a good first step to open up our game in tournaments. Reraising players who are opening too much is an excellent second step. If we can employ both strategies simultaneously, we will get deeper in far more tournaments. ♠

Alexander Fitzgerald is a professional poker player and bestselling author who currently lives in Denver, Colorado. He is a WPT and EPT final tablist, and has WCOOP and SCOOP wins online. His most recent win was the $250,000 Guaranteed on America’s Cardroom. He currently enjoys blasting bums away in Ignition tournaments while he listens to death metal. Free training packages of his are provided to new newsletter subscribers who sign up at