KC's Rush Strategy
KC’s Rush Strategy
Strategy for the 135 man rush tournaments on Full Tilt Poker.
Rush tournaments are basically like compressing a regular tournament in half. Anyone who is reading this strategy obviously has played a rush tournament or at least knows the structure. In this strategy I will break the tournament down into 5 sections. I will also talk about the different types of players normally found in these types of tournaments. Many people think that there is some completely different way to beat these things, but in my opinion, not much changes as far as strategy goes from a regular tournament. It’s just that you get to each part of the tournament quicker; therefore you must change gears quicker. The key is to know when too, when others do not.
I also want to add another key point. A strategy is not something that you can follow exactly and win every time. You have to do some work too. This is the ground work, the blueprint, for you to work with and build your own method. I hope that this strategy helps a lot of players since it seems like rush won’t be going anywhere. I also think that if you do or when you start making money with these, you’ll never go back to regular small tourneys due to the tournament being so quick and less time consuming. Good luck to those who play and I really hope this helps!
Types of Players
I want to talk about the different types of players before we go into the different stages so that we know what we are dealing with before we even play. Most of these you already know, there is not really a new type of player due to it being a rush tournament, but there are new ways to combat or defend against these players in a rush environment.
These players are our favorite players during the Bubble Area and Pre Final Table section of the tournament. Why are they our favorite players? Well at these stages in the tournament the blinds are significantly high and worth stealing. So we note these people and take advantage in late position. We steal for many reasons mainly to build/maintain our stack so that the blinds do not cripple us while waiting for our double up hand. I’ll talk more about stealing in those sections. The main thing to remember is to note these people and also note who and how many times you have made a move on them in position, whether it is mental or digital. It is important to remember who and how many times you’ve stolen since, especially in these tournaments, people realize who the thieves are and start defending.
These players are the type to usually c-bet or steal. Therefore we can defend/re-steal by playing back at them or what the poker community calls 4 betting. Usually we will be in the small or big blind when playing back at these players. Again it doesn’t hurt to note these players although it is a little harder to justify their exact characteristics’ since loose/passive is very difficult to point out. I will talk more in-depth on how to play against these players in the Bubble Area and Pre Final Table sections.
These players are the most dangerous since they will be so much like us while playing. We take notes and try to stay away unless we have a premium hand, obviously. It’s not like these players are unbeatable but we need to realize that these players are playing a lot like us and they are usually going to be representing a solid hand. Although in most cases they will fold to your bets due to their tightness, but if they come back at you know that they usually aren’t bluffing.
These are the type of players that we should be trapping against. We most defiantly should not be bluffing these players. They can be very curious calling stations and we don’t want to lose to bottom pair on a pure bluff. I will talk about the actual trapping of these players in the Beginning Play section, but it pertains to all of the sections in general. Also, instead of trapping with check-calls or check-raises, try betting the minimum or value betting to induce a loose raise from these players. Building a pot earlier is the key to getting them committed to the pot by the river.
Example: In this hand we are not necessarily trapping them but there loose/aggressiveness shows through.
Same play as a normal tournament, at least this is how I play in a normal tournament. We are raising top ten hands and limping all pairs. Not sure on how people feel about calling any raises up to 3 times the BB with small pairs, but I do. I’m looking to hit a set and if I don’t, I’m out of the hand fast.
We will be making most of our chips from the players who over value TPTK and Big Pairs. Players like I talked about earlier, Loose/Aggressive players. We want to trap them and let them hang themselves. Also, just like in regular tournaments nothing changes really. The thing is in rush tournaments you encounter these players a lot. These players confuse rush with playing a lot of hands and fast, when really, at least in the beginning, you want to be the most patient of all.
In this hand I made a standard re-raise pre-flop. My bet on the flop was low, but was meant to keep him in, a good value bet. If I knew that he had QQ I would have bet more but if he had AK/AQ or any pair then he’ll probably call. Now the turn is a good card if I have him on a high Ace then he hit and I made a boat. I checked to show weakness and was hoping that he bet. If he doesn’t bet, like he did, then we are set up nicely for the river to make a fake-bluff. On the river I bet the pot, and many may not like this but I think it can be really effective. If he’s not betting the Ace on the turn we have to put him on a higher pair due to the call pre-flop. We could bet for value here and he would definitely call, but at the same look at how I set up the hand for me to look weak. I bet low on the flop and I checked the turn. By this point he’s thinking about my re-raise pre-flop and puts me on a lower pair then him, trying to take the pot since we both checked the Ace. I think in this situation I am betting a significant amount on the river the majority of the time. If things were different pre-flop I think I am value betting this river all day.
Enough reading, let’s actually watch how I am playing in the middle section of the tournament. Obviously we are changing our hand selection at this point. I’d say around the 80/160 blind level, I believe it is blind level 7; we start to widen our range and start utilizing the later positions to bully the blinds. As the blinds get higher we widen our range more and more, as you will see in these videos.
I apologize in advance for my 1 and a half year old daughter. She is very talkative lately and may interrupt me in the videos, but the wife was gone and it was the only time I had to make the videos. It is also split into two parts due to you tubes 10 minute rule.
YouTube- rush mid late bubble first half.mp4 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFPmO5tx_IM)
YouTube- rush mid late bubble 2nd half.mp4 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeEJHFqpdjY&feature=related)
Bubble Area Play
As you saw in the last video, you want to steal, steal, and steal! Find who the tight/passive players are and attack them. At this stage with 16-19 players left we will be widening our range up a lot. We also want to be looking to attack mid-stacks and mid-low stacks. These players are in survivor mode and just want to make the money at this point. So OTB and CO are our spots to steal with a lot of different cards. I’m talking almost anything with an Ace, all pairs, any paint cards, and suited connectors. I am usually min-betting if I see that it is affecting against the players in that certain tournament, if not then I raise 2.5 times the BB.
Since there is an attacking part we must talk about the defending part of this section. It’s not like every person is going to sit back and not raise your BB or SB as well. We must be careful though, just because they are in late position and raising doesn’t automatically mean that they are stealing. But, the majority of the time they are and we must show that we are not weak.
A lot of players do not like to defend, either they are too passive or just completely scared. In my opinion stealing is essential and must be done to win. Also many debate that it is a good way of wasting chips if you get caught/re-raised. But let’s look at it another way. Since the majority will usually fold to aggression then the percentage of time that we win a hand due to stealing or re-stealing will overcome the times that they defend and we have to fold. What I mean is that we will make enough money stealing due to the fact that we will win the hand with aggression the majority of the time.
Let’s say that the blinds are 400/800 with a 50 ante. If we steal the blinds 7 times during this level we will accumulate 11550 chips. Let’s say the 8th time we steal the BB re-raises our 2.5 times the BB raise. We lose 2000 here if we fold, but from stealing in good spots before we still have added 9550 to our stack. Also remember we will get hit with the blinds so this number might be slightly lower but the point is to show that stealing is all that bad, and is much more effective than waiting for a monster.
Here is an example of defending your Blinds.
I have a nice sized stack here and his raise is a common thing to happen with the blinds being more valuable. The majority of the time the SB is stealing and I do this move with just about any two cards, most of the time. I will do the same to min raises and limps from the SB and BTN.
Pre Final Table (10-15 Players Left)
Find your raise when stealing or when raising with a good hand. Whatever you decide, stick to it! What I mean is find which raise works for the players at this stage in the tournament. Your best bet is to try a min-raise first. Since this is the minimum you can risk but with the blinds so high, it can be effective. If many people are calling too much or re-raising, then try 2.5 times the BB or 3 times the BB.
There are only 4-5 people at each table while the rotation is moving. This means you are playing 5 handed and the majority of the time you will be UTG, CO, or Button. Which means with a wide range you should be stealing these high blinds. (Including premium hands, AJ, A10, KQ, KJ, K10, QJ, Q10, J10, any pair)
This is where many people fall short or don’t make it to the final table with a good enough stack to be effective. Just as I talked about in the Bubble Are Play section, when a player is doing the same thing you are doing on the button and you are in the SB or BB, play back at them! There is no room for passiveness in this stage and you must be aggressive. If this works, and usually it does, they will leave you alone next time and this will make it easier and save you chips.
There are good examples of play in the previous videos during this section in the tournament.
Personally, I hate the position I’m usually in when I get to the final table. If I’m lucky the blinds are around 600/1200 and I have 20+ BBs. Notice I said lucky to have 20 BBs, the majority of the stacks are shallow. So we must adjust and take either one of two approaches. The first approach is staying aggressive and stealing a lot with a very wide range of hands. The other approach would be to lay low a bit, still stealing, but tightening up a little and picking our spots. I usually take the second approach and tighten up a bit. The only exception would be if I was short stacked, or big stacked. Short stacked obviously I’d be shoving almost any two cards, and big stacked I’d be trying to control the table aggressively. Now with an average stack, which is what we usually have, we still want to try to control the table. Sometimes a cold deck or bad run can prevent this, but we have to gain some type of good image in order to survive.
Most of the other players will still be in rush mode, full of adrenaline or whatever it may be and constantly getting into pots and playing each other. If this happens, don’t worry, it’s a good thing. Let them bump you up a couple places in the money.
Another thing to do at the final table is take notes. To be honest if you have taken notes before the final table, let’s say around the bubble, they may not mean much now because they could be totally different now that the rush portion of the tournament has ended. If I can, I take notes as early as possible at the final table, mental or digitally.
We want to pick our spots well when stealing based on the players, timing, and hands. I’ve noticed that stealing from the mid and low stacks is a lot harder at the final table. They seem to be more aggressive and usually shoving all-in is the only play used. This is why the final table is the hardest part for many obvious reasons!
Although in this video I do not win the tournament, we still get to see some common things that happen at the final table.
YouTube- rush ft first vid.mp4 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NueakZEz6Y)