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Key Tournament Strategy Tips (Part Two)

Part two of our two part series on key tournament strategy tips takes a look at tournaments selection and deep stack overview, before looking at some key points to take from both articles.

Tournament types and selection

There are probably hundreds of different tournament types available over an expansive range of poker networks. The amount, for some, can be overwhelming and it’s tricky to know exactly what variation means and entails. Let’s take a look at some of the most common variants.

  • Freeze out – These are typically the most common poker tournaments and are widely available on each site. It’s pretty simple really, you pay your buy in, get given the same amount of chips as everyone else and you play until you are knocked out. Some of the biggest tournaments on the net are situated around freeze outs such as Pokerstars’ Sunday Million and Party Pokers $500k. The ability range can differ greatly and everyone from your recreational player to your online professionals can be seen playing.
  • Satellites – A satellite is what is known as a feeder tournament often in to that of a one with a much larger buy in. So, for example you can enter a $10 satellite which may have 10 seats guaranteed entry to another tournament which is $100 to buy in to. If you finish within a certain position (could be the top 10), then you gain entry to the $100 for only a $10 investment. A satellite is often seen as a great way for players with limited bankrolls to play tournaments of much higher value on a shoe string.
  • Re-buy – A re-buy tournament is one where you can keep buying chips when you get knocked out up to a certain point in time. So, you pay your $10 to enter (some offer an initial re-buy straight away to double your stack for double the starting stack amount) and then if you lose all your chips you will be granted a little time – normally no more than 30 seconds to buy back into the tournament with the same amount you started with, in addition you can rebuy at anytime within the allotted time frame when your chips drop below the starting stack amount. Re-buy periods on average run for the first hour of the tournament allowing you to have unlimited re-buys in that period, however after the hour is up, the tournament switches back to a freeze out type mode, meaning once your chips are gone, you are out.
  • Limited re-buy – in these types of tournaments players can re-buy only a limited amount of times. It often differs from site to site, but most allow one rebuy until the first break and then  another once you get to the first break (add-on), then after that it’s back to freeze out mode.
  • Turbo – a turbo style tournament is played similarly to a freeze out, however the blinds will increase much faster. Say your standard tournament had blind levels of around 10 minutes for example; turbo MTT blind levels might increase every 3 minutes meaning the games are over far quicker.

So, as you can see there are a lot of variations of tournaments, and these are only but a few. Each type suits different players styles so it’s up to you to sample what works best and then to stick with that.

Deep Stack tournaments Overview

Deep stacks tournaments are often thought to be for the patient, thinking poker player and for the most part, this is true. The structure and chip stacks will give you a lot of time and more importantly, chips to play with. Just going from the WSOP main event structure, you start with 20,000 in chips and have a two hour clock resulting in this being the ultimate in deep stack tournaments.

Deep stacks aren’t for everyone however and many struggle with the sheer amount of time they have. A lot of players may play a fast paced game which includes a lot of aggression, but a deep stacked tournament will simply not provide this. As they fail to adjust properly, you can see players making many mistakes just trying to force a bit of action, whereas the players who sit tight and play their hands accordingly, will be the ones that prosper.

The structures are so long and forgiving that it requires a certain skill set to really master a deep stack tournament. Let’s take a look at some points that you can adapt to your game to maximise your game in a deep stacked structure.

  • Passive style – When faced with such deep stacks a lot of players like to try and get into as many flops as possible for as cheap as possible in the attempt to flop big. Now whilst in a regular tournament, this strategy would be ill advised, a deep stack gives you the chips and the time to do so. Hands such as low suited connecters and one gappers are hands we want to try and see a flop with. However, if we adopt this strategy its important that we have a very sound post-flop game otherwise it can become a ‘spewy’ style to adopt.
  • Playing small ball – Many top pros have made livings from just playing what’s called small ball poker. By this we mean making small raises and small bets on the flop to try and take down pots as cheaply as possible in an attempt to slowly accumulate chips without too much opposition.
  • Tight aggressive – these players are looking to target players in the first and second example and look to get paid with their big hands. Instead of playing many hands in small pots, a tight aggressive player will often sit and wait for their big hands in the hope of getting paid off.

Key points

  • Working on your end game bet sizing will massively help you at final tables when it comes to closing out tournaments
  • Limpers can be a great way to maintain you stack and take advantage of their weaknesses
  • Squeezing, applied properly, can win you some nice medium sized pots for little effort
  • Work on your tournament selection to see which will give you the largest return on your investment
  • Look to change up your strategy when playing deep stack tournaments
  • Play to win!