How to Beat Your Friends in Home Poker Tournaments
Home-game players want the same thrills as they see on TV but at stakes they can afford. The great thing about home game tournaments is that smart players can make a killing at them.
If you're thinking of playing in home game tournaments, here are a few tips to help you win more often.
Early Stages - Speculate with Limpers, Throw Rocks at Maniacs
In many home game tournaments, you will see one of two types of play develop early in the game.
You will either see a ton of family pots with everyone hoping to hit big hands or you will see maniac players looking to bully other players around early.
Both scenarios are fairly easy to play. With the family pots, open up your range and play a lot of pots -- especially in position. Even hands with a reasonable chance to make a straight or flush is going to be playable in many of these pots. This includes hands as menial as 3-5.
When you make your hand in these pots you want to bet for value as early as possible. If you have calling stations at your table, bet right away. With timid players you want to let them catch up a bit when you flop a nut hand so that they will throw their stacks at you.
When you have the scenario of maniacs trying to run over the table, tighten up a bit and even tighten up your hands in position. These players will put you to the test if you don't hit your hand so you want something to play back at them with.
When you do have a hand or when you speculate and hit your hand, you will find that these players will almost bet your hand for you if you show any perceived weakness.
This is a good spot to practice some reverse tells to see if you can induce a bluff from your opponent by "showing weakness."
Late Stages - Attack the Nits, Trap the Maniacs
Once you start approaching the money in these events, you will want to open up your play a bit. Tighter players will get deep in these games more often but they will also be vulnerable to aggressive players.
Attack the weaker nits at your table as much as possible. Maniacs that make it this far will likely have done so either on the strength of luck or by pushing around the nits.
Here is a time where you will want to speculate a bit and open up your range. Since the field has thinned a lot of your pre-flop hands will be better than those of your maniac player.
When you connect with a flop or have a big hand, don't be afraid to get your stack into the middle. You will find yourself ahead a large number of times and, barring a suck-out, the maniacs will tend to give you their stacks.
Heads-Up Play - Attack
These games will almost always have mega-fast structures and heads-up play will become a bit of a shove fest. As such, you want to attack with the button as much as possible.
When out of position you also want to open up your range as much as possible. Any hand with an ace, two face cards and any pair are great spots to shove with here.
When you happen to run into a player that likes to see flops, value bet the hell out of them when you connect. Chasing draws heads-up in these games will usually prove profitable as long as you are not calling huge bets.
Combo draws or a pair with a draw are fine spots to shove with. Even if you are not ahead at the time, you have outs to win.
Filled with Players Who "Think" They Know Poker
By and large home games will be filled with players either learning the game or players that "think" they know how to play effective poker.
You usually don't have to worry about levelling or deep thinking players in these games, so the above tips should help you in a large number of games that you play.