I should create a pivot table to keep track of all of this. I came in 8th out of 104 and won $110 which was a $85 profit. For those keeping track at home that is the third time i’ve finished in 8th out of 5 tournaments at creekside. I have an average place finish of 11.7 out of an average starting field of 117 . I have an average tournament profit of $121 (or 146 in prize money per tournament.
Ok so a little while ago I gave a general overview of my strategy for these tournaments. Let me get a little more indepth and see if it helps anyone. Last time I said that I basically play tight through the first 2 rounds of blinds. The blinds start at 20 / 40 and then go to 40 / 80. You start with 1000 chips. Here is what I mean by playing tight early in the first two rounds.
– Never attempt to steal blinds
– From early postistion (1st 2nd 3rd to act) raise three times the big blind with 99 and up (include AK).
– From middle position (4th 5th and 6th) raise three times the big blind with 77 and up (include AK, AQ).
– From Late postsion (button, Small Blind, Big Blind) raise with 55 and up (include AK, AQ, AJ, KQ)
– Don’t limp from the small blind unless you have a drawing hand like 67 suited and there are at least 4 people in the pot.
– Reraise all in with QQ, KK, AK from late posistion. JJ 10 10 99 from late posistion if the raise was from middle posistion.
– if jj 10 10 99 in late or middle and initial raise was from early posistion play this by feal. If it’s cheap see a flop and slow play trips. If it’s expensive raise try to figure out why the person in early would put in that kind of raise and act accordingly.
In the early rounds I would suggest almost never calling a raise. Either folder or go over the top. Your goal in the early rounds is to wait for big hands, stay out of trouble, project a tight table image. I often show my really good hands early in a tournament if i’m on a roll so that when I get aggressive later on they don’t think i’m just a maniac. But that’s preflop let’s talk after the flop.
When you miss the flop:
– If you were the aggressor before the flop and your up against one person bet the size of the pot no matter what the flop is.
– If you are in agaisnt two opponents and they check to you, bet the pot.
– 3 or more opponents means you have to feel very good about having the best hand. Don’t bluff.
– If you get any callers stop betting after the turn and river unless your hand improves.
When you hit top pair on the flop:
– Bet the pot, and if you were previously raised then reraise unless the board looks real scary or you have a good read on your opponent
– If you are checkraised go all in if you know the opponent would check raise with a flush or straight draw and middle pair. Otherwise fold. (Most opponents are so happy they hit two pair or trips that they will always bet. This is when reading an opponent is so important)
– If you flop a set try and check raise only if there is no flush or straight draw on the board. If there is a draw then bet the size of the pot.
– If you flop a flush, straight, full house , or better, go ahead and slow play or underbeat about 1/3 the pot.
The turn and River:
– If you are sure you have you opponent beat and that they are on a draw, then you need to go all in on the turn and make it cost too much to stay with you. If someone has 300 chips left and you bet 200 they won’t fold, but if you go all in for your last 250 they will. Why is this? I don’t know. People seem to respond more to the all in.
– If you hit a flush or straight or two pair or improve your hand on the turn go ahead and check. A lot of players will be aggressive here and try to bluff when they see you show weakness in responce to the most recent card.
– If you know that your opponent hit their hand, just check and fold after they bet.
No one wins the tournament in the first 4 rounds. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people tripple up at the begining of a tournament only to bust out early in the next round. This happens because they have more chips and play too lose. Also people probably think they play less than premium hands and will call more of their bets. Also these players might not realize that when the blinds are at 100 200 that when somone doubles the blind that a call would cost them about a 7th of their stack. If they call three of these bets and loose their blinds then that person that had 3000 is now down to 1500 and is not the chip leader anymore.
So what changes once you get to round 3? well with the blinds at 50 / 100 you can do everything the same except you will now steal from the button and one off the button with any pocket pair or any two cards higher than a 9. I never steal from the small blind cause it’s too obvious. If you ever get a good starting hand in the small you can overbet to make it look like a steal and maybe get paid off if the person calls. One other chane. I would only raise KK and AA double the blind hoping that you get some action before or after the flop. Either way you will want to double up with those hands no matter what the flop is.
Round 4 (100/200 blinds) is where you will really be able to pick up the blinds but look out for small stacks at this point. Don’t try to steal from short stacks. But medium to semi large stacks (that aren’t calling stations) are the ones to pick on from the button, small blind, and one off the button. Also try stealing with A-X and suited connectors of 67 and up.
Round 5 is just like round 4 except with 200/400 blinds small stacks are going to get desperate. Don’t be affraid to call some of these all ins if it only costs you 400 more when you are in the big blind, or if you have a big stack at this point and you think it will be a coin flip make sure you call. Also try to put small stacks all in anytime you can isolate yourself with them when you have 77 and up (include AK, AQ). Until this round we really have only been raising and folding. Now there maybe times to call. Also you will want to steal with any two cards at this point unless the blinds are short stacked or you have a read on the hand of one of the stacks. If your short stacked go all in from the small blind, button, or one off no matter what. If you have chips make it a standard 2.5 to 3 times the big blind raise. (1000 is usually a good raise here)
Middle Rounds Short Stacked:
If you find yourself short stacked in the 4th 5th and 6th rounds always follow two guideliness.
1. Be the first one into the pot unless you have a very good hand (77 and up). If you have a mediocre hand like A-x or K-x then go all in unless someone has called or raised infront of you.
2. Always be concious of what a double up means. If you wait until your in the big blind for 200 and have another 200 in front of you… who cares if you double up. You still need to double up again on one of the next 18 hands.
Round 6 400/800 . You probably won’t be in the money yet but you will be soon. If you can take out a short stack without it costing a third of your stack, its probably a good idea to call their all ins with hands like over cards and 66 or better. This is a tricky stage because you will probably get short handed and people will tighten up. Here is how I play the posistions at this point.
Early – Raise to 2000 with 55 and up (include KQ, AQ, AK). Call any reraise Allin if it costs an extra 2000 or less. If it costs more decided what the posible opponenets hands are and judge for your self.
Middle – Raise 33 and up to 2000 (inlude QJ, KJ, A-x, AK, KQ). Follow the same allin rules as above.
Late – Raise with anything to 2000, unless you know that the blinds or button have a good hand. Also if any of the blinds are automatically all in, or have less than 2000 left than only raise with the hands you would raise with from middle posistion.
During this round you probably want to slow play your aces as long as there will only be one opponenet in against you after the flop and you have that opponent covered. Always move all in after the flop though.
Round 7 and up. Now you should be in the money. Once you are in the money you either need to double up cause you just squeaked in, or you need to build the chip stack for the final table. If you squeak in, you probably need to go all in from the blinds no matter what you have or go all in anytime your first one to enter the pot from middle posistion on. If you have a edium to large chip stack you can probably afford to be patient. Since people are in the money they will loosen up like crazy right now. Play it almost like level 3 at this point. You can steal from the larger stacks, and you can call the small stacks, but only call if you think you have them beat preflop. Small stacks at this point can still probably hurt you the same way the small stacks at level 3 hurt the big stacks. The added advantage of waiting for hands at this point is that people will bust out left and right. Usually I go from getting in the money at 18 people, to the final table with only one or two rounds of blinds. If that. The $ difference from 18th to 9th can be 3x the pay out.
Once again people are going to be loose so wait for a hand if you can. When you get a hand at the final table you will want to slow play qq and up, plus if you flop anything you will want to slow play that as well. At this point everyone is ultra aggressive because they think they can bluff people off pots, or they are happy to be at the final table and will play anything anyway. When it gets down to 4 or 5 handed you will want to start raising with any two cards above a 9 or any pocket pair. If you get called and have to show thats fine. But a lot of people don’t understand how much looser you have to get when it gets to 5 handed or shorter.
Three handed: raise anytime you are first to the pot.
Two Handed: raise every pot preflop, and then after the flop if you are first one into the pot. Heads up is all about aggression. If you flop a monster just slow play the shit out of it, or underbet like crazy. When I’m heads up there is virtually no hand I won’t bet with. If you don’t feel comfortable with this incredibly aggressive approach think of it this way. With just two people and a total of 4 cards, how likely is it that person has a good hand preflop. If he calls your raise how likely is he to have hit any of his hole cards. Not very likely. So even if the person calls your preflop raise go ahead and bet your board of 7 9 2 with your 5 3 in your hand. Your most likely going to take the pot and the other person is not going to understand why they aren’t hitting the flops like they did when they played hands earlier in the tournament.
Overall: The key in my opinion is that you want to dictate to other people how the hand unfolds. You want the opponent to react to you at all times. Aggression is the key, especially i you are first to act. When your not in a hand use that time to spot tells and betting patterns. Lump players into two catagories Actors and non-actors. The actors will act in a way that is the opposite of what their hand strength is. If someone shakes his head in disgust after the flop, and then after the river shows that he floped trips.. well you know that if he acts weak he’s strong, if he acts strong he’s weak.
Some other common tells:
Eyes – If when the flop, turn , or river hits and the player looks at his chips real quick, that means his hand has improved.
Quick Checks – A lot of times someone will check really quickly if they have no business being in the hand. Watchout though, if you bet and the person quickly calls it means they are on a draw.
Playing with chips – If you are first to act and your opponent starts counting up his chips or playing with them… BET. I know it sounds weird but usually this is just a ploy to keep you from betting. Usually both actors and non actors do this. But some times the non actors will count up if they have an ok hand but aren’t sure if they can afford the call, or are not sure it will hold up.
Those are the easy tells that are the easiest to spot. I also watch to see where a person places his cards. How he holds them. If he looks at the after the flop. Sometimes I watch and see if they sit up or lean back in their chair. You can also tell how much preasure someone is in by watching their chest for breathing or their neck for a hard pounding pulse. Usually i don’t have to think that hard about a call raise or fold that i need to look for those things, but the more you get used to looking at betting paterns and the common draw the better you will be at spoting other tells.
That’s all for now.