Numerous ways exist to play poker tournaments, with diverse strategies visible at any typical table. While some strategies and tactics might find success, particularly in experienced hands, navigating through different styles and strategies is essential for finding what feels right and brings about desired results.

Caution: To Shove, or not to Shove…

While poker is often seen as a gamble, adopting a loose or reckless approach, especially in a tournament’s early stages, is not always advisable. It’s crucial, particularly in Freezeouts or when avoiding multiple rebuys, to not hastily shove, even with seemingly strong hands like JJ or AKo. Astute players often protect their progressively deep stacks, even resisting the urge to shove with such hands during the initial phase of tournaments. Attaining a double or triple stack early, while beneficial, isn’t always critical and isn’t worth the risk against hands that might be dominated by bigger pairs. Adopting a mindset that anticipates opponents mainly shoving with premium holdings and exercising circumspection about one’s own shoving, especially in a tournament’s initial phase, is advisable.

Calling with strong hands

Contrary to the belief that very strong hands always warrant a (re)raise or all-in, calling serves as a viable, flexible, and potentially advantageous option, especially at a tournament’s onset. Opting to call a significant raise with a potent hand can keep opponents with robust but weaker hands in play, whereas a shove or reraise might induce a fold, thus capping our potential gain. Additionally, calling allows us to cloak the strength of our hand and introduces unpredictability into our strategy, offering potential advantages in future similar situations deeper into a tournament.

Stack size consideration

Counterintuitively, possessing a big stack doesn’t necessarily justify playing too loosely. In fact, doing so might expose us to threats from short(er) stacks. It’s vital to treat short stacks with respect and caution, understanding they could strike unexpectedly. Overconfidence, leading to an expanded open range with speculative hands like suited connectors and small pairs, often results in short stacks, yet to act, going all-in, a scenario with no appealing choices – calling with a weak/vulnerable hand or folding, forfeiting chips unnecessarily committed. Thus, recognizing effective stack sizes, considering our position relative to them, and resisting the temptation to play too fast and loose even when holding a big stack are paramount.

Conclusion about the early phase caution

In the initial phases of a tournament, adopting a cautious approach, especially when committing a healthy stack against a narrow shoving range, is advisable. Prioritizing gradual stack growth, while safeguarding it to exploit potentially weaker shoves from increasingly desperate opponents as the tournament progresses, is a sound strategy.

Wishing you good luck at the tables!

Author: AngusD
last updated 05.10.2023