Some more notes on RP tournament strategy

Have been on a terrrible run lately with several finishes not even on the final table, mainly due, I think to loss of concentration. But came back to win a 1-million-chipper tonight after a long, long struggle up to 2 1/2 hours.

Over the last couple of days I played a couple of low entry tournaments on RP, and did fairly well until I had to leave for an appointment. The thing to remember in the cheap entry tournaments is that no one really knows anything about position, chip size, blind size, bet sizing, pot odds or anything like that. Most of the players just want to play their cards and see what they flop. A player with 22 or 33 will happily call off half their stack preflop and probably shove when they miss.

The best strategy here is just to play your best starting hands, forget about preflop raises as no one will ever fold, and then continue strongly post flop if you think you have the best hand or the draw to the nuts.

The million-chip tourneys are not a lot better, but the players can be more deceptive. Some will shove their whole stack if they flop the nuts, but some will slow play their hand and try to suck you in.

Also some of the players have some understanding of blind sizes. In the early rounds you can play drawing hands like suited connectors, but after the first hour the blinds rapidly escalate and post flop play is invariably stack-fatal.

When you get into high-altitude blinds territory all that counts is high card strength and an ace is goldust, especially if it has a kicker 9 or better, because small stacks will make Hail Mary preflop shoves with almost any ace or king, so if you start out ahead, or better still dominate them, things will tend to go your way.

Obviously you cannot win a tournament without some luck, because if every small stack won on the river, tournaments would never end.

However the key to finishing first and not just making the final table comes down to never calling a raise unless you have no choice, have the opponent heavily outstacked, or you are going to shove yourself. Opponents are always going to make continuation bets and two times out of three the flop will miss your unpaired cards and you will put your whole stack at risk if you continue.

Raising preflop yourself is much better, because a lot of the time you will pick up the blinds unopposed, and if you do get a call, then the flop may still hit you even with the lousiest of hands. If your raise with rags and someone comes over the top, then you can always fold and try again on the next hand, but the good thing is that you will win a lot of hands with rags, and be able to save your good hands for really special occasions, like attacking the table chip leader (if it is not you), or wiping out small stacks if you have a bigger stack.

I would not bother too much with calling obvious bluffs early in the tournament, because many players on RP shove the flop when they have the nuts on the flop or the river, instead of trying to get paid for their best hands, hoping that they will still get called by draws on the flop or top pairs on the river. Admittedly this sometimes succeeds.

But subtle play is out the window.

One special tip that I find invaluable is that AK is not that great a hand in early play in tournaments, because players who want to play their hands may call any preflop raise and shove pocket pairs at any flop. Obviously if you do get into a flop with AK and flop top pair, then you can evaluate your options and probably win some chips. AK suited is better because of flush possibilities, but remember that you cannot flop an open ended straight draw with AK and that A or K on the turn that gives you top pair may be giving someone else a straight if there are two cards in the Queen to nine range on the flop.


I fully believe that AK has broken more holders hearts than any other starting hand. It’s such a pretty hand that sucks you in and whispers in your ear “why, you can’t possibly fold me now, could you sweetie?”

Not that I know anything about that. Um, I heard it from someone else… yeah, that’s it - someone else.

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Well congrats on getting out of your downswing, if you are looking for higher levels of poker play on this website to try to challenge yourself, I’d suggest joining the donks league. I do not play 1 million chip tournaments, but I do play 250ks and the level of play in the donks tournaments is 10x harder than the 250ks. If you are tired of playing 1M tournaments which in your eyes are not much better than the low stakes I think you should consider joining. Players can only join if they have an Rp rank of 3000 or better and if they get a referral from an existing member. Let me know if this interests you. Overall interesting advice on how to beat the tournaments here.

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I 100% disagree, You obviously know the answer as to why that statement is false. I know because you seem to understand post flop play.

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Well, it is obviously a good hand early in tournaments, but people tend to overplay it even so or commit too many chips to it preflop–that is what I meant. For example AK is a definite underdog to 22 preflop in a 1:1 situation.

My thinking–and this applies to tournaments only–is that if you want to win tournaments, you have to focus on your relative position to other stacks at all points. So let’s suppose that you started with 5000 chips, and you already won a very nice pot and have advanced to 5600 chips very early in the tournament.

You are now high within the top ten out of 50 starters, and in a comfortable position where you can look for nice opportunities to pick up pots cheaply, or play your very best starting hands, like the top 10% when not in the blinds.

You are in the big blind, and it is folded to the small blind. The BB is 60 chips and SB raised to 10 BB (600 chips). You have AK offsuit. Do you call, or just fold and wait for a better opportunity to accumulate chips?

I would fold. Here is why.

  1. On the hand above, the flop comes low or middle. Let’s say 10, 8, 3 rainbow. Now SB leads out with a pot sized bet of 1200 chips. What do you do now? He has indicated preflop that he has a medium or large pocket pair (remember this is RP not High Stakes Poker on TV.) I would fold.

  2. On the hand above, the flop comes King 8 6 with 2 spades. Nice for you, but this time SB shoves. What does he have, and what do you do? Well, he could have an dominated King like KQ or KJ, or he could have 2 spades giving him the flush draw, or he could even have something like 77 and a slight possibility of making a runner-runner straight or trips. Or he could have QQ, JJ, TT, 99, 88 (yikes!).

So you have gotten suckered into calling an oversized bet, and now you are asked to put all you chips on the line after ten minutes, when you had planned to play for an hour or two. At this point you would really wish that you had folded preflop. I would fold here and go back to 5000 chips and start again.

Of course if you have the same hand and this time it is a three- or four-way pot, then you are looking a lot better and getting much better odds on calling.

In the early stages of tournaments I prefer to limp in with AK, or a make a small raise from late position, and see if I make top pair on the flop and then go from there.

In the later stages of tournaments, AK becomes much stronger, because there is almost no post-flop play except in all-in situations, and in most cases opponents will fold pre-flop to a raise. AK is also a good hand to call preflop shoves by much smaller stacks, if you can afford to lose and stay competitive in the tournament.

Winning tournaments is all about staying alive and winning your “horse races”, but the more horse races you get into by calling preflop or flop shoves with AK, the less likely you are to make the final table, given that two overcards are always a slight underdog to a pocket pair and that the higher pocket pairs, which opponents are likely to be playing have an even better chance. For example AK is only 43% to beat TT by the river and only about 25% if it misses the flop, and only about 35% to make a pair on the flop, 15% of which time the TT could make trips leading to a likely big loss for AK, so really only 30% to lead at the flop.

(However in last night’s tournament I saw three flops of AAK within the first 12 minutes. On the previous night I had AKo in the early going and the flop came AAK. Of course nobody wanted to bet on that flop, so it was not that great for me either.)

I have played in the donks league before, but had difficulty in fitting the time schedule into mine.

Oh ok, if you are ever interested again let me know and send me a friend request, they did change the times of the Sunday tournament at 9pm to 7pm if that works better for you.

I might do that, thanks.

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