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Texas hold em tournament betting strategy

In practical terms, if you play a tournament once a week, you can go 20 years without winning a single one. For this reason, many top winning poker players supplement tournaments with cash games , a form of poker with much lower variance and arguably more skill-edge, because of the deeper stack-to-pot-ratio, thereby, allowing players to make more multiple street decisions. Most players consider the only rake in tournament poker to be the fee associated with the buy-in.

Other times, the rake is taken directly out of the prize pool, usually in the form of a percentage. The most notable form of hidden rake is the cost for players to actually play an event: in the form of travel expenses, gratuities to dealers and staff, occasional hotel expenses, and opportunity costs. While he is unsure of whether or not he will win or bust early, Hero expects to play an average of 14 hours in this event.

Example 2: Hero Travels to Play a Tournament Note: While this example would apply to Hero if he were to travel for cash games, as well, I included it in the tournament section because it is far more common for players to travel for tournaments. If he were to travel for cash games, his ROI would shrink proportionally as well.

I call this the true rake. Keeping the true rake in mind will help you make more profitable and higher EV decisions at the poker table. The easiest way to conceptualize this is to think about what happens if you win. This phenomenon gives us insight into how we should be approaching tournaments to formulate our strategy. The most important principle to understand in tournament poker is the idea that each chip is worth less than the previous one.

In the real world, this is referred to as diminishing marginal return DMR. In other words, you should be looking for good spots to apply pressure with of your big blinds, attempting to gain more. You should, simultaneously, stay away from larger stacks that can threaten your tournament life.

As a short stack, you are at risk of being knocked out by nearly everyone at your table; consequently, you should look for good spots to go all-in, ideally when you have some fold equity. For example, if a medium stack opens for 2.

The looser he opens, and the tighter he calls your shove, the more you can justify stealing wide. The last component to having strong tournament fundamentals is preflop play. The Quick Start Guide will improve your fundamentals, and give you tools to adjust the information you learn to your precise situation against your particular opponent. Most people consider short stack play to be 11 big blinds or less. In this format of poker, the game is solved.

By memorizing shoving ranges from the various positions, you can play perfectly. The best way to accomplish this is to download the push-fold charts that tell you which hands to shove from which position. Push-fold charts are convenient to use, because they tell you how to play both, with and without antes, and how to adjust your shoving ranges, depending on how many opponents are left.

Therefore, simply committing to memory the information in the guides will suffice for how to play perfect game theory optimal poker GTO from this stack depth. Ideal situations to play tighter are when you are closer to the money, when facing a big stack, or when there are a lot of loose players at the table who call too lightly. In conclusion, passing on a situation that has minimal positive expectation is usually better than being too aggressive and playing a situation with negative expectation.

When in doubt, wait for a better spot. Small stacks, ranging from 12 — 20 big blinds are often the most difficult to play. You are generally too deep to justify shoving all-in preflop, yet raise-folding is punitively expensive. You should aim to adjust the following variables, depending on your opponents, the field, the payout structure, and many additional factors.

While I discuss these concepts in more detail in Four Step Poker Mastery , the basics of what you need to know are the following:. Example: A loose player opens in the cutoff for 2. You look down at KTs on the button. While this hand is far from premium, when you combine your fold equity the probability that he will fold , plus your solid equity when called, this becomes a clear spot to shove.

Shove narrower against tight openers who are either very short therefore, unlikely to be opening without a premium hand , or big stacks who are indifferent to losing an all-in against someone with your stack size. Also, shove narrower when you are closer to the money, or when ICM dictates that the risks are too high more on this in the next section.

You should aim to exploit tight opponents by min-raising to 2 big blinds from late position, in an attempt to steal the blinds. When called usually from the big blind , bet 2. When called on the flop, shove All-in on the turn if your stack-to-pot-ratio is close to one , whenever you have a decent amount of equity. You can widen your shoving range, if your opponent is very likely to fold or you get a strong read.

Otherwise, if you believe your opponent will call, or you have absolutely nothing, simply check behind and give up the pot. Make this play against tight players, and stacks that could be threatened by your stack even if they cover you. A 30 big blind stack still has to worry about getting doubled through by a 20 big blind stack; therefore, he is still potentially a target.

Avoid aggressive opponents and big stacks in particular, as they can afford the risk and will be less inclined to get pushed around. Medium stacks, those between big blinds are also a unique stack to play in tournament poker. You have some wiggle room, but one pot can still easily change the destiny of your tournament life.

For opening strategy with a medium stack size, follow a tighter version of the advice laid out in The Quick Start Guide to Preflop Play. Your goal with a big blind stack size should be similar to that of the above, look for shorter stacks and weaker players to whom you can apply pressure. The most common situation to do this is when they open preflop, where you can put them to a very tough decision by 3-betting.

For example, a mid-position player, with 28 big blinds, opens to 2. In this situation, the opener is really torn between two decisions: fold or shove all-in. This is an ideal spot to take to accumulate chips for the Hero. Ideally, you want to be in position when taking this play, so your opponent is less likely to call. You also want to avoid aggressive opponents as they may shove all-in over the top.

Also, avoid loose opponents who will call your 3-bet too light. As a general rule, you should be taking more chances: opening with a wider range, stealing more pots, 3-betting light against weak opponents, and defending wide from the big blind preflop. With 55BB or more, look for situations to compete with playable hands in position.

For example, if the highjack 40 big blinds opens to 2. You have position and you have him covered; therefore, he has to play with caution postflop. This will open the door for you to play more hands in position. As a big stack, use a more aggressive version of the tactics above. Use your big stack as leverage to exploit shorter stacks—by 3-betting them in spots—where you put them to the test for their entire stack.

That being said, be prepared to defend your opens by calling 3-bets, especially when in position and if you are opening too wide. Only play solid playable hands which you can confidently put money in postflop when facing aggression. KQ suited is a great hand to defend against a 3-bet, QJ off-suit is not. While you are incentivized to play hands as the big stack, you want to avoid situations in which you can double up your opponents.

This will shift the leverage from your stack to theirs and take away a lot of the threat of your stack. Think of your approach to poker tournament strategy like a probing effect. You put out a lot of feeler bets by raising, C-betting, and 3-betting, but you want to avoid big pots unless you have a really strong hand. Most of your chips should be won by avoiding showdowns, either winning preflop or on the flop. There are seven players left in the tournament and the top six get paid.

You call. There is another call from the dealer, who is also deep-stacked. So the short-stacked player now has the possibility of being eliminated by two players rather than one. But if you do bet in this scenario, you run the risk of having the dealer fold, meaning that you will be the only player who can eliminate the short-stack. You and the short stack flip your cards over, and he shows KT. The turn and river come 8 and 3, and you double up the short-stack and everyone at the table hates you since the dealer would have made his set and gotten you all into the money.

A much better play here would have been for you and the dealer to simply check all the way down to the river to ensure that there is an extra chance of the short-stacked player being eliminated. Closer to the bubble, most of your opponents, except for those that are deep and short-stacked, are going to tighten up.

No one wants to go home empty-handed, and most players in this scenario will simply wait for the short and deep-stacks to duke it out. This is where a smart player will start picking up blinds. Your goal here is to take down pots by taking advantage of the fear that will dominate the table, not to outplay your opponents with your advanced moves.

Take risks here but be disciplined about laying down your cards when faced with aggression. Good players are going to see through this tactic and protect their blinds. Respect them. While the temptation may be strong to sit back and watch them eliminate each other, you need to acknowledge the immensely important role you can play in bringing this about. This is doubly effective as you near the bubble. Your goal is to take advantage of the fear that your opponents have of your stack and pick up as many blinds as you can.

Medium stacked players will be extremely hesitant to get involved in a hand with you and will lay down medium strength hands regularly.


Where it matters is when you have several players at your table that are down to 30 big blinds or less in a later stage. The difference between and big blinds is mostly irrelevant outside the fact that you can lose an all-in and still survive. Scenario 2: You get involved in a big pot in the early stages of a tournament. You lose that pot and find yourself in the bottom of the leaderboard with 20 to 25 big blinds.

So now you have to adapt and switch to Plan B, which is a fundamentally more conservative style of play. For years the bubble phase of a tournament — meaning the approach of the money spots — was the phase where you tried to exploit the smaller stacks as viciously as possible by permanently attacking them. Is this approach still valid? If you are very short you have to estimate how much longer you can wait, how many chips you can give up by folding good hands to get into the money and win the min cash.

Your strategy depends entirely on your stack size. If you do have a big stack then, yes, you should still try to take advantage of that situation. People came out raising 3 times or 4 times the big blind, minimum. Pot-sized bets on the flop were the rule and not the exception. But then on the turns and rivers we see 2x or 3x the pot bets. And this is poker on the highest levels so this shows you the way to go. More generally speaking, your bet-size depends on the flop texture. Plus, the size of your stack in relation to the pot and the range you put your opponent on.

Small ball poker is now essentially the fabric that every good poker player uses. But this refers mainly to pre-flop and flop play. Flop bets today tend to be a quarter to a third of the pot whereas in the old days it used to be three quarters to full pot. Turns and rivers are now where the game gets interesting. You can see that we see less and less half-pot bets.

You get moved to a new table. You raise with pocket kings from middle position and get a call from a player in the blinds who has you slightly covered. On the flop the situation is as follows. Pushing all-in would not be very smart even though you have the best hand at the moment. You might even fold your three kings. Also at this stage you have to think about what you would do with your entire range.

In a heads-up pot, hitting one pair will often win you the pot. For example, K-6 on a flop of against a button open is basically a monster. But imagine that same situation with K-6o in a 4-way pot — it becomes debatable if you can even call a c-bet.

Despite the improved pot odds of multi-way pots, you need to be more picky about your defending hands by choosing ones that play well in multi-way pots. You should still be calling with basically any suited hand as well as hands like J-T offsuit. These hands often end up as weak pairs with little chance of reaching showdown not what you want in multi-way pots.

Basically, in multi-way pots, you want your decision to be easy. Defending offsuit hands with large gaps is only asking for difficult and messy situations. With these stacks, you want to 3-bet bluff with hands slightly worse than your flat hands in the same situation. Hero is dealt two cards in the cutoff Middle Position opens to 2. These have great blockers making it less likely that your opponent has a hand that can continue , and flatting them might be a bit on the loose side. This strategy is particularly effective against regulars due to the threat a 4-bet shove poses.

Using hands with high card blockers is extremely important as it makes a shove by the opener less likely. So, in a nutshell: Choose blocker hands just below your calling range as 3-bet bluffs against good and aggressive players. Things change quite dramatically as stacks get closer to big blinds, and the correct approach to 3-betting resembles that of a cash game.

With deeper stacks, your opponents are more incentivized to continue against your 3-bets, which can lead to tough situations with marginal hands. Because of all this, you want to 3-bet with a polarized range, and remove hands like Q-Jo, A-To, etc from your 3-betting range with a large stack-to-pot ratio. These are never hands that want to play for stacks on virtually any flop.

Against fishy players, it is sometimes better to 3-bet with a linear range — more thin value bets and less bluffs. Instead, just try to get into a lot of pots in position against the fish, 3-betting shamelessly with hands that have good playability, like J-Ts, s, Q-9s and so on. Drop the weaker hands like s and Q-Jo from your range altogether. To summarize; with super-deep stacks you want to have a somewhat linear, high card-heavy 3-betting range against fish, and a polarized 3-betting range against regulars.

Players nowadays are much more aware of how things work, and check-raise bluffing has become both more common and more nuanced. You can just do this is in a very simple, logical way. Poker Tournament. Hero is dealt two cards UTG Hero raises to Only BB calls. A : The big blind. The big blind has a piece with the vast majority of his flatting range, and overall has a range advantage.

A: Your opponent. You both have the same amount of sets, but he has all the straights and two pairs whereas you have none of them. A : This the toughest question to answer if we have no reads, because some people still defend their big blind way too infrequently.

A clever player will realize this, and punish our c-bets by check-raising with a variety of hands. But just doing the above over and over will be enough to solve most practical situations in real time. This goes hand in hand with tip 5.

Before any decision pre-flop, on the flop or on the turn, you should always have a rough plan for each likely outcome. Just a rough idea will more than suffice in game. Before betting, you should ask yourself two new questions:. This is the bare minimum. This is not a flop texture I would c-bet often because it hits my opponent better than it hits me. While tournament payout structures vary depending on the poker site or live tournament organizer, the winner of the tournament will always get the biggest chunk of the prize pool by a fair margin.

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Extra time soccer betting rules in no limit You betting shop jobs hull want to pick some strategic floats that you can use to bluff the river with in the event your opponent checks back on the turn. To summarize; with super-deep stacks you want to have a somewhat linear, high card-heavy 3-betting range against fish, and a polarized 3-betting range against regulars. Challenge yourself to factor in the relevant concepts, and make more profitable decisions. People came out raising 3 times or 4 times the big blind, minimum. What you want during this stage are cards that are easy to play and have a good chance to be best when going to showdown. You have position and you have him covered; therefore, he has to play with caution postflop. Plus, the size of your stack in relation to the pot and the range you put your opponent on.

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It's not just short-stacks that can cause a problem, aggressive players will be looking to attack wide-openers. This is especially true when a player opens with a vulnerable M8-M14 20bbbb stack. Wide openers would be wise not to commit a large percentage of their stack with marginal holdings, and so will be forced to fold, or face being in a high-risk situation. Staying aware of your own stacks utility, as well as anticipating how opponents will utilize their stacks, is an important tournament poker tip to keep in mind.

As a stack gets deeper, the less willing a competent player will be to put their entire stack at risk since they have more to lose. It's rare to see good players all-in during the early stages of a tournament with hands like AKo or JJ preflop.

Smart players recognize that their counterparts aren't going to be risking their entire stack with weaker hands like AQo. Therefore, even a strong hand like AK could be at a significant equity disadvantage facing a deep stacked opponents all-in range.

Could you fold QQ here? Rather than putting in an extra raise, often times just calling with even very strong hands in the early stage of a poker tournament has great benefits. Players have learnt the value of c-betting , but it's a strategy that is often misapplied. Being the preflop aggressor shouldn't lead to a mandatory c-bet and double barrels. This is especially true in multi-way pots yet players continue to make fruitless c-bets with weak holdings into multiple opponents.

The following hand illustrates the effect nut advantage can have on profitable continuation betting and how it applies to this tournament poker tip:. The Independent Chip Model or ICM, is a great model players use to make more profitable decisions when deep in a tournament and especially at a final table.

Unlike in cash games, chip values fluctuate depending on the stage of the tournament and the competing opponents stack sizes. Imagine a situation in a satellite where 9 players get a World Series of Poker entry and there's 10 remaining. The action folds around to a player with , in tournament chips who moves all in from the small blind. You look around and see a few opponents with only chips left, which is the size of the current big blind.

Obviously one of these short stacks is likely to bust very soon. Moreover the chance that they collectively out survive your , stack is extremely remote. Aside from calling too wide in spots when the most profitable strategy is to proceed tightly, the opposite can also be true when it comes to pressuring your opponents.

ICM allows players when they have the opportunity to assert pressure on there opponents stacks, to go ahead and do so liberally, since thinking opponents counter-strategy is to play a tight range of hands. Here's an example of how drastically a hand range can change when the opportunity to assert pressure at a final table exists. Since the 15bb stacks wants to avoid busting out next and missing out on a large pay jump before the immanent bust out of the 2bb stack, the small blind can adjust their all-in range.

If there was only one tournament poker tip that you take away from this article, it's that you need to know ICM! Strong players are capitalizing on their opponents tendencies to bet too big or too small in a number of different situations. With some similar considerations to that of continuation betting , when selecting a bet size important aspects include;.

There are many great articles online about bet sizing. You should be sure to check out ThePokerBank's and the Pokerology's to learn more about this tournament tip. Possibly due to the popularity growth of Twitch, many poker players approach to big blind play has evolved. The current trend is to defend the big blind with virtually any 2 cards, as some top pros elect to do, and the justification for this is taking advantage of the excellent pot odds being offered.

While the inclusion of antes combined with commonly seeing a small open raise size does offer the big blind generous pot odds, this has led to a fundamental flaw in the way many players approach big blind play in poker tournaments. The key concept overlooked, is equity realization. Equity realization reflects a players ability to take a certain hand, and win their share of the pot, frequently enough, to make it profitable in the long-term. Although some top pros have the ability to win their equity share of the pot even out of position, less skilled players rarely do.

This leads to a large chip loss in the long run. It is quite difficult to realize of your equity when out of position, with no initiative and a weak range. This means them glorious odds you are being offered aren't quite as good as you think! Everyday at the tables I see players missing profitable opportunities to double, or even triple barrel.

Understanding what turn and river cards are advantageous to a players range, along with opponent tendencies, are crucial parts of a winning barreling formula. The most common scenario at the table, is a heads-up pot where the big blind calls an open-raise.

And this happens to be a great spot to barrel. Big blind defenders have a wide range, and it's important to pressure this wide range, especially on only partially connected board textures with one or multiple high cards. The biggest difference between the current tournament population, and the future generation, will likely be their approach to check-raising the flop.

This opportunity typically occurs in a heads-up pot, after defending the big blind verse an opponents raise. And if players are getting out of line with their c-bets, then check-raising at an even higher frequency could be a profitable exploit.

By giving up too easily on a wide range of board textures, or taking a more passive approach and simply calling, c-betting can be done with reckless abandon. However, by selecting a nice mix of check-raising hands, combining some strong hands with some good semi-bluffing candidates, a check-raiser can become tricky to play against and exploit the average players tendency to over c-bet.

But also think beyond the flop, there's plenty of check-raising opportunities you may be missing. This video demonstrates an interesting turn check-raise situation. We discuss check raising strategy in more detail in our post over on unfeltedpoker. Whilst 3 betting aggressively is a strategy many players employ, especially in online poker circles, failure to apply optimal 3 betting strategies has certainly led to a lot of spewy poker. Simply attacking opponents who are suspected of opening wide doesn't cut it in the modern poker world.

Players have learnt to deal with 3 bets more profitably, by mixing in some calls with timely 4 bets. Moreover, the role stack size plays when it comes to 3 betting it still largely misunderstood by much of the poker community. Sure there are certain stack sizes where 3 bets gain a lot of leverage, but how about the role blockers play? These are just some of the considerations when it comes to a profitable 3 betting strategy. See how to design strong 3betting ranges in this article by Donkr.

Meaning: the next one, two or three players who bust will go home with nothing while the rest of the field will receive some cash. If you have a small stack during bubble play you should approach every situation with extreme caution — maximize your chance to survive and fold everything that's not a monster. If, on the other hand, you made it to the bubble with a big and healthy stack, it's hammer time.

Punish the short stacks and put them all-in at every opportunity put them all-in, don't call an all-in without a decent hand. Once you get deeper in a tournament you'll inevitably play short-handed meaning with less than nine or eight opponents at the table. During those times you have to play more aggressively than at a full table.

All hands with big ish cards go up in value. You'll often find yourself in situations that might feel weird because your hand looks a bit weak but you should play it aggressively because your opponents also have very wide ranges. If you wait 20 hands for a monster to punish your loose opponents your stack will have gone through the blinds four or five times and will have decayed considerably or even might have vanished in the process. Play here is so different from the previous phases that it's worth training for heads-up duels specifically.

Once again cards go up in value and you have to be willing to put tremendous pressure on your opponent, otherwise he'll just grind you down. A hand like Ace-Five for example is virtually unplayable in most situations on a full-ring table but is a monster when playing heads up. Very often during the final table the remaining players will try to make a deal to split the remaining prize money.

Normally you should politely reject those offers. Your opponents will usually moan and groan a bit, threaten to keep on playing without a deal, but will eventually accept a counter offer. Play Here. If you make a deep run and get a bit lucky, too, you can also win a pretty big chunk of money. Tips for Poker Tournaments 1. Don't get whamboozled on the bubble.

Don't get too picky shorthanded or you'll end up whittled away. Heads-up, it's hammer time. Comment on that Cancel reply Message. Your Name. Your message is awaiting approval.