Nowadays if you want to be a successful tournament poker player, you have to overcome huge fields to take down the prize. A great example of this is PokerStars? Sunday Million which attracts around 8,000 players every week. Now to put this in context, that's just less than what the WSOP Main Event attracts yearly, and this just proves why PokerStars is the number one choice for tournament poker. This article will outline how you should approach tournaments with so many entrants, don't discount yourself, anyone can win!
When the tournament starts, the blinds will be small compared to the size of your stack. Usually this leads to players seeing lots of flops early, even with mediocre hands such as 7-9 suited. Of course if they hit a straight they could make lots of chips, but more times than not, they will just be throwing away their chips. Instead of seeing lots of cheap flops you should adopt a tight playing style and bet your premium hands strongly. Many players will go all-in in the early stages in the hope of doubling up, and this should also be your main focus, but only with very strong hands. Hands such as A-A and K-K can merit an all-in in the early stages of a poker tournament. One tip I suggest you taking on board when playing this tight style is to try and win at least 1 big blind every orbit of the table. This will keep you about average, but winning with your premium hands will give your stack a boost to keep you ahead of half the field.
Forget the minimum cash place! This is probably the biggest mistake most amateur poker players make. They build up a huge stack in the early/middle stages and then are afraid to bet their chips, and instead wait in the hope of floating into the cash. Take the latest Sunday Million tournament with a $215 (at the time of writing this) for instance. It had 8,007 entrants and paid the top 1,170 players. The prize money between these places was huge, even from tenth place to first was a massive difference.
1st place = $240,000
10th place = $8,500
1,170th place = $320
So this just proves tournament poker is all about winning, don't play to cash ? play to win!
Of course if you're one of the smallest stacks on the bubble then you can wait and hope you make it to the cash, but if you have one of the biggest stacks then don't be afraid to bet. On the bubble is actually the best opportunity to gain extra chips because so many players are afraid and won't risk theirs until they have made the cash, even minimum raises are enough to make players fold at this stage.
Playing in tournaments with such big fields is very time consuming. You might play for 9 hours only to crash out on the bubble and win nothing, or you might play for 12 hours and win a life-changing amount of money. Staying focused is the hardest part for many players, but for the successful players they keep out all distractions and only focus on the game in hand. This is what sets apart great tournament poker players and average players. Playing on the internet is a distraction for many players, some can't resist browsing different sites, some players even multi-table tournaments but a tournament with so many players should have your full attention, it only takes one big win and your life could change!