Deep Stacked Play at the Start of Poker Tournaments Can Benefit From Cash Game Poker Strategy.
Today’s successful online poker tournament players need to master a wide range of poker skills. This article looks at the early stages deep stacked online multi-table poker tournaments and looks at five key cash game skills that you can use to increase your profitability.
Early Level MTT Strategy - Cash Game Principle #1 - Plan Ahead for the Pot Size YOU Want
Short stacked tournament play often means that most of the chips go into the pot pre-flop and on the flop betting rounds. When deep stacked you will have many more chips to bet over multiple streets. The key principal here is to think ahead and work out how to get as much of your opponents stack in the pot as possible – and to adjust your bet sizes accordingly.
For example: First level of the Pokerstars Sunday Million, you raise 3 times the Big Blind to 150 from the button with 88, get 2 callers and the flop comes A82 with 3 suits. 3 people saw the flop so there is a very good chance someone will have an Ace and potentially pay you off. Your objective from here should be to work out how much to bet (or re-raise) on each street in order to have the best chance of stacking an opponent by the river. Remember, if nobody hit this flop you'll be unlikely to be paid off.
Early Level MTT Strategy - Cash Game Principle #2- Defending Your Button and Not Your Blinds
In a tournament setting you must defend your blinds as the stacks get shallower. The nature of the game means that those who never defend will slowly lose their chips, and those who defend too often and with too many chips will get trapped at some point. Blind defense in Multi Table Tournaments is an important skill all of its own!
Cash Game players do not need to defend their blinds so often (again you can not never defend), this is because the deep stacked nature of these games mean that the blinds are a small percentage of their potential wins / losses. Here the advantage given by having position on your opponents for the duration of a hand mean that defending your button becomes a bigger priority.
Early in a deep stacked online poker tournament the button is a valuable weapon. Remember that flops will miss player’s hands 2/3rds (66%) of the time. This means that being last to act can allow you to pick up many small pots that others are unwilling to fight for – and those extra chips can become very valuable later in the MTT!
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Early Level MTT Strategy - Cash Game Principle #3 - Deep Stacks Mean Higher Implied Odds
Tournament play often dictates folding (or re-raising!) hands such as suited connectors or small pairs when the stacks are shallow. You can no longer flat call with these and hope to hit a big flop as the number of times you will hit are too small compared with the stack / blind ratio – you simply do not have the implied odds to play your hand over multiple streets.
Early in a deep stacked game the opposite is true – high implied odds hands become not only playable but can be more profitable than the ‘big’ hands such as high pairs. The reason is that when you do hit a flop hard your hand will be well disguised, allowing you to build a pot and potentially stack someone holding that premium pair.
Do not be scared to call raises with high implied odds hands early in the tournament – those raises may well indicate that your opponent has one of the hands that could lead to the loss of their entire stack
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Early Level MTT Strategy - Cash Game Principle #4 - Float The Flop – Bluff The Scare Cards!
Floating is a common practice in cash games. This involves calling an opponents continuation bet on the flop (usually though not always in position) then raising or re-raising to take the pot away on the turn should your opponent show any sign of weakness. This is particularly effective when the flop shows a number of draws (especially with a straight-forward opponent who only raises high cards) – whether the turn makes a flush or a straight possible you raise, often taking down a reasonable pot immediately.
In shallow stack tournaments Floating is not such a viable option – you risk too many chips to win a medium sized pot if your opponent does have a real hand. However this is not the case in the early stages of a deep stacked multi player online poker tournament. Be careful you choose the right opponents for this move – and if possible have position, floating does not work against opponents with ‘no fold button’.
Early Level MTT Strategy - Cash Game Principle #5 - Bring Your Thinking To The Second Level!
Multiple level thinking is a key skill for winning at any form of poker. This involves seeing your actions from the perspective of your opponents. Instead of working out what cards your opponent may hold you look at what your opponent thinks you may have. Once you have a range of hands that your opponent puts you on it is possible to look at their actions in the light of this… for example if you think that your opponent puts you on a weak holding then there is a higher likelihood that his raise is a bluff than if he thinks you may have a set.
Once again late in a tournament the blind and stack sizes, followed by opponent tendencies and then the cards are the important factors. However in the earlier stages, especially in a deep stacked online poker tournament moving your thinking to the second level can help you determine your next move based not only on what you think your opponent has – but what you think he thinks you have!