Apr 29 2010

Late Stage Tournament Strategy

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: Comments Off

The early stages of a tournament call for a relaxed approach that keeps risk at a minimum. In the later stages of a tournament, however, risk is maximized out of necessity. Players who sit around waiting for fantastic hands are often times eaten alive. Aggressiveness is rewarded because there is no other choice.

This doesn’t mean that a passive player can’t get  lucky and catch a hot string of cards, but it certainly is not the best way to try and win a tournament. Your stack size and image will always play a role in the late stages of a tournament, so you need to be aware of both at all times. There isn’t anything simple about late stage tournament play. Sometimes it might be a matter of either going all in or folding, but even this requires advanced knowledge of the game. If you don’t know exactly what types of hands are worthy of a push, it can be quite challenging to make profitable moves. On the other side, if you don’t know when to fold, your money and equity is going to be drained in no time.

Making Moves

In the late stages of a tournament, players need to make moves if they want a legitimate shot at winning. There is no way around it. If you aren’t willing to take a risk, how are you ever going to accumulate chips? You are going to bust out of tournaments early than you had planned from time to time, but what about those times where you double up and make a deep run?

The big cashes should more than compensate for the times where you min cash or walk away with a relatively small prize. This should always be your goal in poker, to maximize any possible earnings. By playing passive poker, particularly in the latter stages of a tournament, you are depriving yourself of an opportunity for a deep run. If you are fine with a small cash, then it doesn’t make sense to play aggressively, but few people enter a tournament with the hopes of a min or small cash.

Controlling Your Stack

While you need to make moves with positive expectation, you don’t want to take stupid risks. If you have the biggest stack at your table and the second biggest stack re raises you, would it make much sense to bluff and go all in? Maybe in a rare situation, but more often than not this is just a stupid move.

Calculated risks are very different from nonsensical risks. Players with big stacks often, but not always, accumulate them through reckless play. You have probably seen big stacks dwindle to nothing in a matter of minutes. Don’t be this person. Instead, look for spots where you are likely to take down the pot with minimal risk. If your tournament life is going to be in jeopardy after a questionable play, just throw your hand away and look for a better spot. As mentioned earlier, late stage tournament play is not easy, but don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be.

Comments Off - Click Here to Speak Up