Writing a series on smallstakes poker tournaments has been very enjoyable for me. At the same time, it has brought a certain amount of pressure from my friends...especially when I bust out before they do. As the months have gone by, I am even more convinced today that adapting these principles to fit your style of play mixed in with some good decision-making will make you a winner.
This is the final article covering the 8 key concepts for small-stakes tournaments. Let's wrap up this series by reviewing the concepts:
I was the chip leader by a small margin when we eliminated a player in 7th place in a 45-player tournament. I then made a critical mistake that cost me from making any real money in the tournament. The blinds had just increased to a sizeable amount. The top four positions paid, so everyone at the table agreed to a deal giving 5th and 6th place their money back out of 1st and 2nd. The table was playing very, very tight as no one wanted to be the first person out of the money. I had taken advantage of this to build my stack from below average to take the chip lead.
I wasn't quite sure what to make of a final table I was watching recently. There was one player absolutely running over the table-with his mouth. He was one of those off-the-wall guys who kept talking, talking, talking. Did he have bad poker etiquette?
Last month was a bit of a cold streak for me. I seemed to build a big stack early then somehow manage to bubble in several tournaments, being one off the money each time. It was easy to attribute these losses to being unlucky, getting outdrawn, taking a bad beat, etc. When it happened the fourth time, I did my best to take an honest inventory of my play.
Since I was struggling, I thought it would be a good time to review the key concepts I have covered in this series.
1. Practice selective aggression. Generally, this means:
Recently a friend and I were having a conversation about various "moves" in No-Limit Hold'em Tournaments. In my previous two articles, I discussed several moves. In this article we will take a look at one last move, breaking it down to understand not only this move but the conditions for any move to work.
In the last article, I discussed some of the more common moves you see in small-stakes tournaments. Hopefully you are incorporating those into your overall game-plan. It will take some trial-and-error before you find that comfort zone where you can use them effectively. Not forgetting that selective aggression is the key to winning, here are a few more moves for you to try out:
NLHE Small Buy-In Tournament Strategy Making Moves
What makes a successful move in a small-stakes tournament? The most common you see are the slow-play and the check-raise. By varying up your game, you keep your opponents on their toes, and force them to make a decision. Usually, you need to have these factors working in your favor:
As we continue to look at what makes for a successful strategy in low buy-in tournaments, always remember that if the blinds have not caught up to you yet, they soon will. For this reason, it is important that you understand how to bet effectively.
I learned the importance of betting your big hands properly in one of my early tournaments. There were six limpers who saw a flop of J-9-3. The player who initially limped under-thegun fired a big bet at the pot, was called by a middle position player, then the button minimum-raised.
Why do we do it? Why do we pay $100 of our hard earned money for a few hours of watching the blinds climb faster than Lance through the Alps only to end up putting our tournament on the line with hands like Q-J suited and pocket fours? Because it's the only game in town.
Any time you discuss poker strategy, you are forced to paint in some broad strokes. Please remember that every situation is different, and you have to respond appropriately.
In order to keep things simple, I will use what seems to be a typical structure for small buyin NLHE tournaments:
Over the past year or two I have managed to accumulate quite a few books about all of the insand- outs about no-limit Hold'em, especially tournament strategy. I'd love to tell you a favorite story of mine...it's about the last tournament I played in where I was slinging around my starting stack of 10,000 chips with blind levels twice as long my daily lunch break...well, I'd love to tell you that story, but I can't. You see, the thing is, I live approximately 2,756 miles from Las Vegas. And, to be honest, I don't have ten grand just sitting around waiting to be spent on one poker tournament.