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Poker Strategy | Holdem Poker Strategy

Playing In a Deep Stacked Tournament – No Limit Hold’em Strategy

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If you've been fortunate enough to win a seat into the World Series of Poker Main Event, you'll be playing in a structure that very few tournaments offer. You'll start with 20,000 in chips and the blinds at 50/100. That's 200 big blinds. A typical online tournament – for example – will start with 1,500 in chips and blinds at 15/30, or 50 big blinds.

Then you'll have the additional benefit of an amazing two hours per round. The slow pace of blind escalation coupled with the larger stack size creates an entirely different type of play and many poker players have problems adjusting.

What usually will happen is an aggressive online player who is used to making lots of reraises and all in moves pre-flop will find that this strategy does not work in a deep stack tournament. The only time your all-in will get called is if you are beat. Reraises also lose their effect because the stack sizes are so much deeper. In a typical online tournament with the blinds at 15/30 with a player opening the action to 90, a re-raise to 300 has significant meaning because it is 20% of your starting stack size. In a deep stack tournament like the WSOP, however, a typical opening raise to 300 with a reraise to 1,000 is only 5% of your starting stack. Players are much more likely to give you unwanted action in a deep stack event and many players have difficulty making this adjustment.

The failure to adapt usually leads to a player’s stack size shrinking and the player becoming frustrated and moving away from their best game. While it is important to be aggressive and constantly look to accumulate chips when the situations arise, it is perhaps more important to maintain discipline and to be patient. The WSOP isn't won in one, or even two, hands. It's a long grind of a tournament that will see you suffer numerous bad beats. Your goal will be to have enough chips to withstand the bad luck.

That being said, however, it's important that you play the style of poker that got you there in the first place.

Another common problem is that players get intimidated by the big buy-in, the big name professionals, and the general overwhelming atmosphere that is the WSOP Main Event. Loose fish become rocks and rocks become calling stations. You still want to be patient and disciplined, but do so within the framework of your game and not someone else’s.

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