Dont’ play too many hands. The biggest mistake a player makes is playing too many hands. A winning player is one who is very selective about the hands they play. You also need to be aware of your position. A hand that can be played from late position in an unraised pot may not be able to be played from early position. You need a stronger hand to play from early position because you have more players acting after you who may raise or re-raise the pot.
Protect Your Hand: Don’t give players an opportunity to draw out on you, make them pay for it. If your holding top pair and there is flush or straight potential, don’t let them get any free cards to draw out on you with. Bet the pot or double the pot as to thin the heard.
Don’t over value suited cards. The biggest mistake that most novice players make is playing any two suited cards from any position. You will be dealt two suited cards about 23 percent of the time. You will only make a flush about 5.77. Simply put for every time you play two suited cards you will only make your flush about once in 16 tries. If you play low suited cards you still have to worry about a bigger flush beating you.
Don’t over value small pocket pairs. When you have a small pocket pair you want to get into the hand as cheaply as possible and hope you flop a set. Too many players will call raises or go all in with small pocket pairs. This is usually wrong.
Thin The Heard: If your holding an average hand, say pocket 10s and there have been no preflop bets yet, go ahead and make a bet. You certainly don’t want the guy next to you who has King Deuce to hit his King on the flop and beat you. Your bet should thin the heard down and will lesson your chances of getting out drawn.
Chip Lead: Listen people, if you have the chip lead tighten up a little. There is no sense in getting involved in too many pots. I see it all too often, someone has the chip lead and calls a raise with crap. Then he catches one of his cards and gets committed to the pot and ends up losing 20% of his chip stack to the pocket rockets. You want to hold on to the chip lead, don’t play anything but good cards and let the other players on short stack weed themselves out and you will find yourself at the final table.
When you have the nuts and someone betting into you: You want those players to get so committed to the pot that they simply cant lay down their 2 pair or their flush or their set. Remember in no limit poker you can always raise the pot or even go all in on the river so its really quite simple. If your playing NL Holdem and someone is betting into you when you have the dead nuts and are in position, let him continue betting into you and do the raise on the river as to maximize any chance you have at getting most or all of his chips.
Survival. Your goal of course is to snap the tournament off, but your first priority should be to get into the money. Avoid confrontations for all of your chips. Many unskilled players have two moves during a no limit tournament. They either fold their hand or they go all in. This strategy may work fine for awhile and win you a few pots but it will never win you the top prize.
Study Your Opponents: Study your opponents and make note of their tendencies. Pay attention even when you are not involved in a hand. You should always be aware of the number of players involved in the hand. Was there a raise before the flop? If so who raised and what type of hands has that person been playing? Look at the cards the other players turn over at the showdown. This is valuable information that could help you win the pot in the future. For example, if you have a player that calls just about anything, obviously it would not be wise to try to steal a pot against him as he will probably call you with his low pair. Conversely, if you have a player like that and you have a strong hand, bet more than you normally would as you will probably get a call out of him unlike if your playing against a good player that would probably fold his average hand.
Realize The Amount Of Players Left In The Tournament And Where They Stand In The Money: If your in a tournament that pays the top 9 places and you have 11 people left in the tournament, this may be a good time to steal a couple of pots if your in position. They are trying to get into the money and wont risk their chips unless they have a premium hand. On the other hand, once everyone is in the money, if your going to play a hand make sure it is one where you are willing to risk a large part of your chip stack on. My experience is when it gets down to the money players, you see many people on the short stack going all in so although it may be tempting to play that 9-10 suited, it may not be a hand you want to risk a large amount of chips on.