In part #1 of this 3 part
series we discussed how the accumulation of chips early should be your
primary objective. By the middle stages of a multi-table tournament the blinds
will have increased significantly – often leaving you less room for post-flop
play. At this stage stack sizes, both yours and those of opponents, become an
important consideration in your strategy. This article discusses some of the
strategy adjustments to make in the run up to the ‘bubble’ when the paying
places are close. We also cover some how to adjust once in the money.
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Stack sizes have many implications on your multi-table tournament strategy
during the middle stakes of online poker tournaments. Hands with high implied
odds value, such as suited connectors, become less desirable when the stacks of
you or your opponents are only 12 to 15 big blinds deep.
The key strategy must be to continue to accumulate chips. With the blinds rising every 10 or 15 minutes it is very important to stay ahead of these. Stealing blinds when nobody has entered a pot, re-raising opponents who habitually raise with medium strength holdings and value betting your good made hands all become critical considerations. Semi-Bluff raises on the flop or turn with strong draws can succeed more often during the middle stages of a tournament – the threat to knock out opponents who have spent time accumulating their stack is stronger.
The bubble, where only a few players need to be knocked out before the paying places start, is an excellent time to accumulate chips. Again we need to consider the big gap in payouts between merely cashing and reaching the final table. Whether your stack is small, medium or large your main objective should be to accumulate enough chips at the bubble to give yourself a chance of making the last few.
Big stacks often use the bubble to put pressure on those players trying to ‘fold into the money’. This is a great strategy of you have a big stack yourself and can win a lot of chips. If you are one of those medium stacks it can also be a great chance to win some chips. You may be faced with many situations in which you can take a positive expectation risk to double your stack. For example a big stack raises you and you consider your holding to be beating his range then re-raise all in! He may fold and those times he does not you have a good chance to double up. You should not be concerned about finishing out of the money here – doubling up and reaching the final few players will compensate you enough to make up for those times you miss sneaking into the lower paying places.
Once the bubble bursts another strategy adjustment is highlighted. Here you will find that those same small and medium stacks who folded into the money become wild! Again your strategy is to use this opportunity to continue to accumulate chips. If you can afford to take risks by raising small stacks when you have then best of it without too much damage to your stack then keep the pressure on opponents by doing this.
A second bubble often occurs when there are just a few players to go before the final table itself. At this point the stack sizes of opponents again become more important than the cards that you hold. Try to identify those players who have tightened up in order to make the last table and steal their blinds. If you find yourself short stacked then bear in mind that players are less likely to call your all-in bets when this could take over half their chips.
To sum up, the middle to end stages of a multi-table tournament are all about staying ahead of the blinds and antes. Stack sizes (both yours and your opponent’s) become a primary decision making factor. Ensure that you play the bubble with the final table in mind – the times you get there will compensate you well for the times you miss the lowest payout.