Once only played by professional gamblers, now poker has grown into a full-blown game complete with its tournaments and championships. The popularity of this game can be clearly seen by the sheer number of people who participated in the 2006 WSOP. However, big tournaments are quite different from the usual poker game that one plays with friends and family.
A professional poker tournament has a specific start time, and each player has the same number of chips in the beginning. Players play until they have no chips left. So, in a big tournament of poker, chips are equal to the life of the player. Some tournaments allow only one re-buy, or even multiple re-buys (but only in the early stages of the game), while other tournaments (which are for the real professionals) do not have any provision of re-buys or cash outs; everyone starts off with and has to make do with the same number of chips. Unlike a cash game where the blinds remain static, the blinds increase according to a predetermined schedule in tournaments. A tournament has different stages and a player must change his style as the game progresses.
In the early stages of the game, there is no pressure and people are not really willing to gamble. In the beginning, the best strategy would be to play very tight and aggressively. The goal should be to manoeuvre slowly and steadily through the early stage with above-average or more chips. The middle stage is where real gambling begins. The best thing to do is to steal blinds and protect the chips. The idea is to stay in the game with maximum chips as possible. Then comes the final stage of the tournament, where everyone wants a taste of the gambling action. Either players are all in or they fold, due to the large blinds and stacks being short. Players play aggressively; take more risks in order to get a shot at the title.
For all the novices and amateurs out there, the important thing to remember is that luck does play a role in winning poker, but skill, knowledge and experience are what really increase the chances of winning.