Tournament tactics

You can find all kinds of vague advice on how to play tournaments, but I am finding that most of it is relatively ineffective, for example, I am finding that the best way to get to the final table is to be a big stack and a bully.

Take a look at part of the list of hands that I played in a 72-player tournament tonight in which I finished second and won chips to take me over 1 million for the first time after 5 weeks on the site.

As you will see, of the 10 hands shown, I won 8, and on one of the other hands the villain had a pair of Aces.
How was this possible. Well, it started with this hand, where one villain was kind enough to donate his whole stack to further my mission.

https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/435456334

Perhaps I was a bit lucky, but I didn’t think he had KQ from the way he played the hand as he seemed to be trying to drive me out of the hand, not to get my chips.

From that point on I was able to bludgeon the table into submission and raise with anything, winning hands like this one:

https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/435460068

Having a big stack made it possible to raise with any hand as the raise was a small percentage of my stack, and if an opponent fought back, I could always fold. Sometimes I would pay a little over the odds on draws, since the percentage damage to my stack was small and the implied odds great if a villain could be sent home.

Of course players could see that a lot of my raises must be ■■■■■■■■, but there was not much they could do. Until this happened, clear evidence that my mini raises were not commanding much respect and I must be taught a sharp lesson.

https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/435479795

The tournament theory I am leaning towards is that it may pay to take some risks on draws early on while weaker players are present to get a big stack, and then lead from the front and bully the hell out of the tight players, never let small stacks or blinds limp into a pot that you want to play. As a large stack, when the blinds are at low levels, you can effectively set your own minimum blind for anyone to play a hand with you. That way when the flop comes you can be reasonably sure that BB is not playing with unsuited 4 gappers other than A9. You should also think in terms of calling for draws in relation to the size of your stack rather than in relation to the blinds if there is a chance of busting an opponent who probably holds Ax and has made two pairs and is ready to go all in on the turn.

In finishing second in a 72-player tourney tonight, I only had AA one time and AK two times and did not win big pots with any of them. I think I only flopped a set one time. On the other hand, I busted out three players who had AK. One of the biggest errors I see is players completely losing their heads when they have AK, going all in after completely missing the flop when they are up against sets, two pairs, and middle range flops that have numerous flush and straight possibilities.

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I would suggest this article so you understand the play style you are trying to describe:

http://www.pokerology.com/lessons/poker-playing-styles/

Poker is a competitive game and betting aggressively is not being a bully especially in tournament play.

There are also times to lay back and limp in a big hand to mix up your game so advanced players do not get a read on you.

Enjoy and win big!

This is an excellent article for beginner and experienced players for discussion:

The Importance of Aggression

Remember that poker is a game of aggression and this is especially true of hold’em. If you don’t want to be aggressive, then you shouldn’t play — or at least you shouldn’t expect to win. Poker is all about conflict and it’s not a game for the weak. This is why an aggressive style of play is critical to success. This is a central truth of the game that we all deal with every time we sit down to play. We’re trying to beat the other player and take their money. As the late great Jack Straus once said “ I’d even bust my own grandmother if she played poker with me.

There are obviously times when it’s good to be deceptive and just call pre-flop with a premium hand or check-call a strong hand after the flop. Even aggressive players do this on occasion, but the big difference is they’re mixing up their game – unlike the tight-passive player who only calls when they should probably raise, due to a fear of losing. As the old poker saying goes, “ Scared money never wins “.

The biggest downside to a passive style of play is that it only offers one way to win the pot – when you have the best hand. An aggressive style of play gives you two ways to win – when you have the best hand and when you force your opponent to fold the best hand, thereby abdicating the pot to you. For example, if you were aggressive pre-flop, depending on what cards are on the flop, you can [continue your aggression by betting](http://www.pokerology.com/lessons/the-continuation-
bet/) and often winning the hand even if you miss completely.

MORE…

http://www.pokerology.com/lessons/poker-playing-styles/

Yes, that is not a bad article and this part is certainly true:

The key to all of this is observation. You really need to observe the players at your table and pick up on their tendencies and understand what type of plays and decisions they make based on their personality types. If you can, start to classify them into some of the groups we’ve discussed. It then makes your decisions a lot easier and more profitable.

But I think that to be successful in tournaments so that you need to constantly change styles from hand to hand depending on the situation at the table, relative stack sizes, etc… ( I have found it quite beneficial to join a tournament as a late reg at about 10 minutes, because already there are stack inequalities that make some players anxious and others overconfident in their superpowers.)

When the blinds get really high it becomes all or nothing on every hand and even with AA you might want to fold if there is a raise and a call ahead of you and the biggest stack is in the BB. On the other hand most players are as loose as hell in the BB when the pot is unraised, even though there is a huge dilemma if you have Ace/low kicker and an Ace comes on the flop when the caller is a player who likes to limp suited Aces. These hands can be the deadliest to play and I have sometimes even folded them instead of checking as the damage may be unlimited if the caller is large stacked, whereas raising preflop with garbage always leaves the option of throwing away the hand if resistance is met with a reraise preflop or a bet at the flop, or if the flop looks risky,

The beauty of playing really loosely is that if you raise from under the gun and the flop comes 22x, no one can be certain that you don’t have a 2 in your hand-though personally I don’t like to play 2s even as a bluff, because they don’t help much if you flop bottom pair. However that would not stop me from representing a 2 as a bluff, if I think the villain will fall for it.

On the first hand I cited above, I would not have played the way the villain played when the flop came JT9, because that flop is screaming “straight” for any hand that is 87, KQ, or Q8 The Ace on the turn would have given KQ a broadway straight. He probably did not ask himself what I might have that he could beat. JT perhaps or J9, but with JT or J9 I would surely have raised higher on the flop to take the pot down then and there.

On the final table of the tournament last night we were exchanging comments and the eventual winner said to me “sometimes you are the bug, and sometimes the windshield” which I took to be a compliment.

We eventually agreed to chop the pot, but that was not possible and here is the tragic last hand before I went to Walmart to buy toothpaste.

https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/435483346

I found this quotation on a poker web site about Annette Obrestad, who won an online tournament without looking at her cards, except for one time. To me this is what we should all aspire to: I shall change my motto to It’s The Player Not The Cards.

Obrestad became an instant poker legend at the age of 18 when word about her “no-peeking” victory hit the poker community. There is no actual video of the $4 180-man tournament, but Obrestad, who played the entire tournament with a Post-It note covering her cards, submitted the hand history to the popular training site PokerXFactor.com , where members can view the entire tournament in a replayer. The point of Obrestad’s experiment was to prove that position, betting patterns, and paying attention to opponents are more important than your cards in No Limit Hold’em.

I could probably do that on a ring table and do OK but would be easier on a live table where you can see your opponents and read reactions.

I am a tight aggressive player until I get my stack built up enough to cover bets and then I become a loose aggressive player and rely on the bet and reading my opponent more than the hand to win.

Just remember to never let your betting pattern become predictable because someone like me will be watching and exploit that loose big bet with some hidden trips or a full house and all in you.

Have a good one and win big!