Poker Tournament strategy

Jay R

Jay R

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When I’m in a poker tournament my first strategy is not to win tournament, but to get into the money… Once I’m in the money than next goal is to move up the ladder.
However if I have enough chips to cash w/o seriously playing that is my play. The worst thing I can do & have done is to be drawn great cards, but suddenly a small stack goes all-in ( which I don’t care, BUT the big stack is in the hand also.
For example I’m at 25 left.. 18 cash & Im sitting in 15th place.. Small stack All in. Big stack calls. I have KK. but the key calculation is I can just fold or I can go against the big stack which I don’t have to yet. Why, I’m not in the money yet. So I call 15% of my stack.
FLOP comes 2, 5, 8 nothing to get worried about. And now it’s my turn. I could check.
But I go all-in. In my dumb mind I think I’m scaring the big stack. Nope, he calls. He has 5, 5 to make a set off flop. How stupid am I.
Of course I get knocked out in 23 place.
Why didn’t I fold. why didn’t I check, why do I go all in against big stack in a computer game?
Anyways I should have just folded till I got into money or slow played it. My bad!
 
gardin555

gardin555

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When I’m in a poker tournament my first strategy is not to win tournament, but to get into the money… Once I’m in the money than next goal is to move up the ladder.
However if I have enough chips to cash w/o seriously playing that is my play. The worst thing I can do & have done is to be drawn great cards, but suddenly a small stack goes all-in ( which I don’t care, BUT the big stack is in the hand also.
For example I’m at 25 left.. 18 cash & Im sitting in 15th place.. Small stack All in. Big stack calls. I have KK. but the key calculation is I can just fold or I can go against the big stack which I don’t have to yet. Why, I’m not in the money yet. So I call 15% of my stack.
FLOP comes 2, 5, 8 nothing to get worried about. And now it’s my turn. I could check.
But I go all-in. In my dumb mind I think I’m scaring the big stack. Nope, he calls. He has 5, 5 to make a set off flop. How stupid am I.
Of course I get knocked out in 23 place.
Why didn’t I fold. why didn’t I check, why do I go all in against big stack in a computer game?
Anyways I should have just folded till I got into money or slow played it. My bad!

Unlucky hand, the bubble is a hard stage to play, where we need to survive to get ITM, but I think the strategy to follow here, will depend which are you in the bubble: the short stack, medium stack or big stack, to can take adventage being big stack, stealing blinds, etc or just care your stack being short and then wait to be ITM, trying to dont risk your stack against chip leader. There are a lot of variables to take in account playing on bubble.
Lot of players fold AA trying to dont take risk until get ITM, anothers players use this stage of the game playing aggressive to take adventage.
You should to know well what kind of players are on your table, to take decisions like that on the bubble.
I dont know how was your table, but if you thought you would put all your chips in that hand with KK against the chip leader, then would be better do it preflop, shoving preflop trying to double up and that way keeping away of the hand to any Ax or low poket pairs which can catch their nuts on flop, you can get the blinds in that move.
But being too close of the money, maybe could be good idea dont risk against the chip leader.
Better luck on your next bubble! Cheers :)
 
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BIGAUS

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Bubble play is definitely something that takes practice, repetitions, and a clear understanding of your goal. Like you mentioned, getting ITM is very important to you, so that will impact how you play since you're just trying to survive. One of my go to strategies not just to do well in the tournament I'm in but in tournaments in general that I play is to always have the standings open and keep an eye on how fast players leave and how the short stacks fluctuate to where those players might be more susceptible to getting KO'd. If the short stacks actions might make it as though they're soon to leave and help me get ITM, I would play even more conservatively than usual.
 
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Zirkzee

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As a midstack you should of course avoid any confrontation with the big stack, but pocket kings is too strong a hand to simply fold. As a midstack you can push a reasonable number of hands if it is your turn before the big stack. The reason for this is that even the big stack cannot call too lightly. So if you had tried an isolate, the big stack with his pocket fives might have folded. You have to play pocket kings otherwise you don't need to play poker. You just have to be lucky that you can bring it through and if you're not lucky then it shouldn't be.
 
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fundiver199

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As described you should have moved all-in preflop to force the big stack to either fold or commit his chips with a worse hand. Often he will fold, and then your risk of busting in that hand drops to zero.
 
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LFC_yllnwa

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I think in any big tournament at the final stage, you have similar situations, when you get good cards and you need to play, but you think it's worth taking a risk or not... Remember, the main thing is, when you make the right decisions and do not make a stupid mistake at the table. The situation, that you show is wrong to call a stupid decision or a mistake. 5 positions before the money is not a bubble and you have a very strong hand, so it's right to call against a small stack, but it's not quite right to show aggression against a big one! Initially, you did not plan to play against a big pot, you had another task, to support the short bet and you should not forget about it!!! I think you forgot about this and believed in the power of your hand!
It was necessary to carefully monitor the bet of a big player and think whether it was possible to continue watching the line, you deprived yourself of the opportunity to exit the game at any time, and this was a mistake! All-in is not a bad decision, but you definitely hurried and there was no need to play like that!!
 
mariale_1990

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First let me tell you that I do the same as you, my initial strategy is to enter prizes, after that go little by little and try to get the best possible result, 2nd: very bad luck in that play, but they are things that happen, the big stack is always going to risk more, generally he would not mind taking risks with few chips that does not put him at risk of being eliminated, I say it because it is what I have seen most of the time
 
D

donpiatnik

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When I’m in a poker tournament my first strategy is not to win tournament, but to get into the money… Once I’m in the money than next goal is to move up the ladder.
However if I have enough chips to cash w/o seriously playing that is my play. The worst thing I can do & have done is to be drawn great cards, but suddenly a small stack goes all-in ( which I don’t care, BUT the big stack is in the hand also.
For example I’m at 25 left.. 18 cash & Im sitting in 15th place.. Small stack All in. Big stack calls. I have KK. but the key calculation is I can just fold or I can go against the big stack which I don’t have to yet. Why, I’m not in the money yet. So I call 15% of my stack.
FLOP comes 2, 5, 8 nothing to get worried about. And now it’s my turn. I could check.
But I go all-in. In my dumb mind I think I’m scaring the big stack. Nope, he calls. He has 5, 5 to make a set off flop. How stupid am I.
Of course I get knocked out in 23 place.
Why didn’t I fold. why didn’t I check, why do I go all in against big stack in a computer game?
Anyways I should have just folded till I got into money or slow played it. My bad!


This is prefold all in... every time!!
in most cases we would do well with it.



 
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eetenor

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When I’m in a poker tournament my first strategy is not to win tournament, but to get into the money… Once I’m in the money than next goal is to move up the ladder.
However if I have enough chips to cash w/o seriously playing that is my play. The worst thing I can do & have done is to be drawn great cards, but suddenly a small stack goes all-in ( which I don’t care, BUT the big stack is in the hand also.
For example I’m at 25 left.. 18 cash & Im sitting in 15th place.. Small stack All in. Big stack calls. I have KK. but the key calculation is I can just fold or I can go against the big stack which I don’t have to yet. Why, I’m not in the money yet. So I call 15% of my stack.
FLOP comes 2, 5, 8 nothing to get worried about. And now it’s my turn. I could check.
But I go all-in. In my dumb mind I think I’m scaring the big stack. Nope, he calls. He has 5, 5 to make a set off flop. How stupid am I.
Of course I get knocked out in 23 place.
Why didn’t I fold. why didn’t I check, why do I go all in against big stack in a computer game?
Anyways I should have just folded till I got into money or slow played it. My bad!


Thank you for posting

As played the 2 choices on the flop that you were considering are both not as good as making a small bet.

Checking allows AX to get a free shot at an A or to hit 2 outers if the big stack has pocket pairs etc-not the choice to make if our primary concern is cashing which is why we only called preflop.

Shoving -results show why that is not the best choice. Better calls -all else folds. What we may want to consider here is that if we double through the big stack in this hand we have a good shot at the FT money which is worth far more than the min cash. So in spots like this we can trade min cashes for wins but doing so means we will have some losses. We do this because our win frequency makes it +ROI to do so.

The saying "Play to win the tournament" describes the proper action to take on this flop. This is that spot.

KK on an 852 board is a board we are looking to get value on not a board we fear so a small value bet is indicated as played.

As to you thinking you were stupid. Your focus on the min cash caused you to fear losing- you then acted preflop and post flop emotionally. The min cash focus caused you to tilt. Tilt can be rectified through learning skills and employing those skills and remaining rational in our decisions. My point is you were emotional not stupid.

Great job sharing this post so that you can grow from it.

Hope this helps
:):)
 
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MAGICUZ

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I think that you played ok, but if I were you I would put all-in myself.But what happened, what happened, you just got out of luck
 
wagon596

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Make it to the money.

Make it to final table.

Make it to the final three.

WIN !!
 
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Medina

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When i play in a tournament, my primary goal for me is to get to the paid spot.
The hand you described: starting the flop, the bet is good, can be all-in a lot.
If you really needed the paid seat, a more cautious tactic would have been better, but I don't think that's a big mistake
 
gabpoker

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In my studying I have learning that the best way to win a poker tournaments is to have the big stack at the final table. To get a big stack I am going to take more risk early in a tournament to build a stack and then at the money bubble take risks if that is going to get me a big stack. If I somehow end up at the money bubble as a short stack then my goal shifts to getting the min cash. If I have a big stack at the bubble I'm going to take risks against other medium and large stacks and risk bubbling because all the money is usually in the top 3 spots. The same logic applies to the FT bubble where Im going to take more risks to make the FT with a big stack.
 
theANMATOR

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Simple answer - if a player is more concerned with making it into the money - min-cashing - rather than making the final table - that they will fold KKs pre - or just as bad - play them passively - they aren't going to be making many final tables - unless they hit a good rush of cards i.e. get lucky.

Shove preflop in this situation - if the big stack makes the call with pocket 55s - he is a donk, plain and simple.
 
pescaofish

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is Poker, I will do the same, better try to get on big or go! no time for be week.
 
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fundiver199

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Simple answer - if a player is more concerned with making it into the money - min-cashing - rather than making the final table - that they will fold KKs pre - or just as bad - play them passively - they aren't going to be making many final tables - unless they hit a good rush of cards i.e. get lucky.

Shove preflop in this situation - if the big stack makes the call with pocket 55s - he is a donk, plain and simple.

Exactly. KK is a mandatory 3-bet preflop, and with typical "near the bubble" stack sizes that 3-bet will normally be a shove, when there is already a jam and a call in front of us. Doing anything else is a significant mistake and will dramatically hurt long term results in MTTs.
 
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juntao

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my goal is to win every tournament I enter, 99% that does not happen. But I place in the money 70% of the time. I bluff more than I should, but I understand the betting dynamics of most tables
 
nuttea

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When I’m in a poker tournament my first strategy is not to win tournament, but to get into the money… Once I’m in the money than next goal is to move up the ladder.
However if I have enough chips to cash w/o seriously playing that is my play. The worst thing I can do & have done is to be drawn great cards, but suddenly a small stack goes all-in ( which I don’t care, BUT the big stack is in the hand also.
For example I’m at 25 left.. 18 cash & Im sitting in 15th place.. Small stack All in. Big stack calls. I have KK. but the key calculation is I can just fold or I can go against the big stack which I don’t have to yet. Why, I’m not in the money yet. So I call 15% of my stack.
FLOP comes 2, 5, 8 nothing to get worried about. And now it’s my turn. I could check.
But I go all-in. In my dumb mind I think I’m scaring the big stack. Nope, he calls. He has 5, 5 to make a set off flop. How stupid am I.
Of course I get knocked out in 23 place.
Why didn’t I fold. why didn’t I check, why do I go all in against big stack in a computer game?
Anyways I should have just folded till I got into money or slow played it. My bad!
Not worth it for objective reasons. Your stack is very small, and if you do not have a base in the form of a large pile of chips, then you will not be able to get to the first place. As the pros used to say, "it is better to take 1st place once than 7 10 times." Throwing on big blind when a short guy like you shoves at you, playing mostly weaker hands, means losing before the end of the bubble. This is a real struggle in which one must either die or win.
 
Rost

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I set a goal to build a bankroll by playing in freerolls. So my goal in every tournament is to win prizes. To do this, I play only when I am confident in my chances and only when I have strong enough cards. I don't play with junk and because of this my bankroll grows.
 
Vilgeoforc

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Are you sorry you didn't throw out the KK? You must regret not going all-in right away. Fold kings is a bad idea. Your position is unstable. From 15th place you can easily reach 20m in 10 minutes and then you will regret the KK fold.
 
Zapahlohotrona

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Exactly. KK is a mandatory 3-bet preflop, and with typical "near the bubble" stack sizes that 3-bet will normally be a shove, when there is already a jam and a call in front of us. Doing anything else is a significant mistake and will dramatically hurt long term results in MTTs.
That's right. But if after 3betting KK we get a push, it's always AA. I've seen it a million times.
 
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zerosalex

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My goal is to become chip leader ASAP and maintain that throught the tournament. It has happen before . Or I'll just hover between top 10 all throughout till the end. But always think high and go for it, it is possible.
 
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