Poker Strategy: Playing Above Average

Here’s an interesting fact: if you remain above the average chip count for the entire tournament, you will win every time, and if you remain below it, you will never win.

This is an extreme example, of course, but it does suggest a strategy that actually works pretty well.

Play to remain slightly above the average chip count.

If you get behind, alter your style and play a bit more aggressively. If you find yourself way behind, play a lot more aggressively.

On the other hand, if you are ahead of the average, tighten up some and play a more passive game. Look to play smaller pots ad generally risk less.

Of course, you still have to play good poker, and not give your opponent the right odds to chase that flush or straight. You still have to make it a statistical mistake to call your bets, right? Right.

The interesting thing about this style of play is that you are constantly switching gears, so it’s harder to put you on a hand. Most people won’t realize you are just playing to stay above average, so this is a tuff strategy to defeat.

Anyway, give it a try sometime and let me know how it works out for you.


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dont know, sometimes, im wining every hand like a crazy, and othe time i fold all my hand during a first hour of tourney as i have nothing to play with, but 90% of 100% im in cash anyway.

No single strategy is ever “one size fits all.” Nobody should get married to any idea… one must constantly adapt to the table, tournament structure, and situation.

I added this little strategy here mostly for the benefit of newer players. Anyone already “cashing” in 90% of the tournies they enter already has the game figured out. For the rest, it may provide some little help. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure I entirely understand the post. If you stay above average for the entire tournament that means you win by definition (you have chips left at the end when nobody else does). It is mathematically impossible to win heads-up if you have a below average chip stack (you can’t eliminate an opponent with 15k if you only have 5k).

I guess you were only introducing the strategy. It is certainly easier to go through a tournament with an above average stack than to constantly be short stacked. But, I tend to follow the more common approach, which is to actually tighten up rather than play aggressively (you dont want to get 1/3 of your stack in preflop with AQ offsuit because there is no room to maneuver postflop). I have had a great deal of success on this site playing with a below average chipstack for a long time in MTTs. I can remember one time recently in the 125k MTT in which I was down to 2.5 bbs with 11 players left and came back to win the tournament.

Edit: Although I will quite frequently shove preflop when short stacked with hands that I would certainly not be as committed with if I were deep stacked (like the aforementioned AQ offsuit).

Yeah, you can’t very well stay at above average for every hand. I often look at things at their limits like that to express an idea.

The main idea I’m trying to convey here is to alter your aggression level, and to some extent, your range, to keep yourself above the average chip count. Another way of looking at it is that if you are way ahead of the average, you can tighten up and play more small pot poker.

For example, if you are at double the average with 50 players left, you can more or less coast until you are at 25 players, at which point you will be about average again. I’m not saying to fold pocket aces or anything, you should still play hands worth playing, but you can tighten up and play smaller pots.

Playing below average, you can play “wilder” and either get out of the tourney or get into a position to win it. To me, there’s nothing worse than lingering on a short stack. You will eventually have to shove with less than an ideal hand, so you might as well do this while you still have enough chips to make calling riskier for your opponents.

Nothing in poker is absolute. I’m not suggesting that this should be your only strategy. It’s just a tool in your bag of tools, to be used or not used as the situation dictates.

I was once down to 30 chips after the 2nd hand of a real money 1100 seat MTT and came back to win it.

How did I pull it off? I got VERY lucky like 5 times in a row. LOL

Ill agree luck does play in poker sometimes lol

luck definitely has a role, if you’re actually playing and not just betting your way out of every hand. and the comment about waiting out a tournament is an excellent way to move up position. know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.