By Pablo Paglayan
There are some situations in Online Multi-Table Tournaments which generate many problems to beginner players. In this article we will take a look at those which might get you in trouble in the middle stages of a tournament.
You can see issues in the early stages in this article. Here is a link to my look at issues in the early stages of poker tournaments.
Having an aggressive player to your left
Having an aggressive player to your left is probably the most annoying thing when playing a tournament. The way to approach these situations depends on that player’s stack size and our stack size.
Regarding the villain’s stack, you should know that the deeper he is, the more pots he’ll try to play and win applying his aggressive strategy.
If you are short stacked, you should not really care about the playing style of the player to our left as you will only be able to go all-in or fold.
If you have a decent stack, somewhere between 20 and 40 Big Blinds, you should try to play a little bit tighter than you usually would. A good thing to have in mind is that an aggressive player is more likely to fold against our open raise if he played the hand before. For example, let’s say the aggressive player won the last 2 hands, then it’s very likely he will fold the next one against a raise because nobody is going to believe him if he goes from aggressive to maniac, so we can open up our opening range a little bit. If he 3bets (re-raise) us, then we should consider 4betting much lighter than we would against an average player.
If you have a big stack, above 40 Big Blinds, you can choose between facing him in many pots or just playing tight and wait for hands to get involved in a pot. Of course, trying to play many pots against an aggressive player out of position would be a bad decision, so my advice is to just sit around waiting for hands and, of course, open middle-strength hands occasionally.
Whenever you find yourself going into a flop against the aggressive player, remember how he plays: aggressively. Therefore, if you have a strong hand, let him dig his own grave instead of betting with the risk of making him fold.
Playing a 15-20 Big Blinds stack
With a stack of 15-20 Big Blinds you should avoid playing post-flop out of position. A huge mistake with these stacks is opening middle-strength hands from early/middle positions.
From first positions, only open strong hands looking to get it in preflop. However, from late position, you might open up your range a little bit and open to fold against a 3bet or if your continuation bet fails.
If the blinds and antes represent a lot of chips for your stack, you can 3bet (re-raise pre-flop) light from time to time because your opponent will probably think you wouldn’t mind to play for your whole stack. On the other hand, if you have a very strong hand like AA or KK, you can just call to try and extract more chips post-flop, or you can go all-in directly to disguise the strength of your holding (average players will think you would never go all-in directly with those hands).
Dealing with card-dead periods
The way to handle card-dead periods depends mainly on your stack. If you have a big, comfortable stack, you can afford to fold and it might not be the worst idea as long as your stack remains healthy.
If you have an average, medium stack, you should be opening some hands regardless of how bad they are. Always do it in position and make sure you don’t have hyper-aggressive players on your left because you will lose money in the long run. The good part of opening a small amount of hands, is that your tablemates are going to believe you have a decent hand most of the time.
Finally, if you have a short stack, make sure it remains big enough to have some ‘fold equity’, in which case you can push with a very wide range in order to steal some blinds and antes to keep your stack as threatening as possible for your opponents.
Playing small/middle pairs
Most inexperienced players play every pair they are dealt, which usually is a mistake. Now that stacks are not very deep in terms of big blinds, you should not play every small/middle pair looking for a set because you are going to bleed chips very quickly.
Of course you can play them almost every time you can be the original raiser, and even more if you have a good position and a healthy stack. However, you should avoid opening little pairs if you have a couple of short-stacks left to act after you who may easily move all-in and force you to fold.
In conclusion, remember not to overplay small/middle pairs, especially if you are out of position and with a middle/short stack.
Part 3 of this series of articles will cover difficult situations beginning players encounter in the late stages of poker tournaments.
A reminder: If you are a new player looking to build online tournament experience and build your bankroll at the same time, I strongly recommend the 180 Player Sit n Goes at PokerStars.com. These kick-off every few minutes, and go through the different stages like a larger poker tournament. They are easy to beat too! Check out my 3-part guide to the 180 Player SNGs here.