So let me just preface this question with a little background. I used to solely play tournaments a few years back, but for the last 3-4 years I have only played cash. I've recently made a switch back to some tournaments, quickly realising I'm extremely rusty.

With all that said I feel my game is mostly fine, I'm just having issues closing tournaments out. Over the last 20 tournaments I've min-cashed half the time, once or twice gotten more than a min cash then the rest have been busted early. I know that might seem pretty good, but I can assure you the field of players are mostly poor, so I don't think it's that great, I feel that I should be able to close out the tournament more, especially seen how often I'm min-cashing. Also there is an element of run-good here and I want to be able to maximise that run-good period.

So my question, is primary to tournament players, what are you doing to help you close out a tournament? I think the real crux of my problem is I'm basically getting tired towards the late game. In cash I'd have a break, go for a walk, grab dinner or something if I'm feeling tired, but I'm finding in tournaments with the blinds going up every 20 minutes, it's not a luxury you can have to get up for 30 minutes.

A friend suggested to just listen to some music while at the table for 20 minutes, play your C/D game for those 20 minutes, relax then take the headphones off and get back to your A game.

Again to clarify, as I know this might be a bit broad as a question, but I am looking for specific things winning tournament players here do to help them get to the finish line?

4 Answers 4


Maybe you should start to play MTSNG or Time Bomb tournaments (25 min) or any super-turbo 6-max tournaments, just to train your patience and assiduity.

It is all about tournaments, be patient and hardy, and you will show your A-game in every tournament stage


Generally you should be getting more aggressive and building your stack as the bubble nears, if you haven't already done so. Attack the short stacks when they are in the blinds. Avoid the larger stacks, unless you have a big hand.

For the energy issue, there's always caffeine and energy drinks, but it's usually better to eat some fruit.


TL;DR: Late stages of the tourney are where things get exciting, and ramping up your aggression will keep your head in the game while increasing your chances of winning.

It may help to try and adjust your mindset in a couple ways. For one, simply cashing in the tournament shouldn't be a goal in itself as long as you're playing within your bankroll. One time finishing with a top spot is worth quite a few times of sneaking into the money and can turn someone from a breakeven tournament player to a profitable one. For this you'll need to keep a constant attitude that first place is everything and make your decisions accordingly.

The second mindset adjustment is correlated with that, and it's to think of the late stages of the tournament as the real "beginning". It can certainly be a drain to your energy getting to the later stages, but you should feel energized that the "boring" part is out of the way--here is where it gets interesting and you should be focusing in and making your moves.

If you focus on building a stack and taking advantage of those players who are just struggling to make it to the money, you'll set yourself up for more impactful chances of success when you do run good late. Take a couple risks to get a big stack and pick out spots where you can bully to get more chips. Focus in on the other players who are now shaping up to be the ones you'll have to make big decisions against late.

Basically, instead of a mindset of survival or of hoping to run good, you should be aggressively seeking any and every spot where you can accumulate more chips--that attitude in itself should heighten your senses and keep you focused in the game. You'll definitely end up busting earlier more often but when the mentality is all or nothing, that's acceptable-- when you don't bust around the bubble you'll go much further and have a better chance of winning. If you start to feel tired, try to remember that you'd much rather be in the position you're currently in than to be at the beginning of the next tourney after you'd blown your chance on this one.

  • I particularly like your point about changing your mindset to be excited for the boring part being over. I'm going to try adjust my mindset to that next game.
    – Grinch91
    Jun 6, 2017 at 14:47

In a tournament your goal is to survive more than to accumulate chips. Avoid all-in unless you have a monster as if you lose you go home.

Have a plan so you don't need to think as much. But that plan should not be predictable. E.G. play 78s from mid like x%. Bet a lot of your hands the same way.

Don't try and get tricky early.

When you are not in a hand be aware but relax.

Don't be relaxed when you look at you cards. No bigger tell than someone that sits up straight when they look at their cards. Count your stack down before you look at you cards.

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