Late Stage Tournament Strategy

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Late Stage Tournament Strategy

Your strategy needs to be related to where you want to finish.  You can play tight-agressive (TAG) for an ITM finish. 

If you’re playing to win however you’ll need to play more loose-agressive (LAG) and take bigger risks, for example, shoving pocket pairs early. 

In small tournaments e.g. Full Tilt’s 180 man MTTs,  I always recommend a LAG approach – mostly because the prizes are so top heavy.  Similarly, in satellite tournaments or Steps tournaments there is far more emphasis on a coming 1st and playing loosely.

Big Stack, Mid Stack and Small Stack Strategy

Play according to your stack size.  Big stacks with over 30xBBs should play agressively and make use of blind-steals, squeeze play and bluffing.  You need to bully small stacks sitting on the blinds and don’t be afraid to call them down pre-flop when you’ve got a marginal hand like suited connectors or high Ace. 

Mid stack players with a stack between 15 – 30BBs need to play slightly tighter than a deep stack but still bully small stack players take advantage of other tight players in the same position.  You shouldn’t be pre-flop shoving so much from early position without quality hands, but stealing and re-stealing is still really important.  Most action should come from mid-late position and very importantly you need to avoid becoming pot-committed against deep stack opponents.  There are more cost effective ways to build chips then getting into pre-flop coinflips vs chip leader.

Let’s be honest – small stack players need a miracle at this point.  If you have less than 10xBBs than you really need to be jamming your top 50% of hands as early as possible.  This article moving all-in as a short stack is a good read – it identified what hands to move all-in with.  Most of your game at this point will depend on luck and taking big risks.

Keep Stealing/Defending the Blinds

The value of blinds (and antes) is massive and that makes pre-flop pots important to steal.  

I try to steal the blinds as often as possible from position and take advantage of tight/weak players on the blinds.  As long as you’re raising or bluffing with hands that have “outs” (suited connectors for example) you can still get called and hit a monster. 

Defending blinds needs to be adressed.  To defend blinds properly you need to be re-raising or folding to loose opponents.  Calling is a big No No because you’re totally out of position and it’s very unlikely you’ll can catch up.  Read playing/defending blinds for more details.

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Using a Poker HUD on the Final Table

Well-timed aggression and a poker HUD is essential to beat the final table. You gotta know what your opponents are 3betting or re-raising with and their positional hand range.  I honestly believe poker tools are the most important factor to the outcome of your play.  A successful player using a strong tool like HUD or Poker Office will be better equipped to break down their opponent’s style and shoving hands.

Most pots will go down pre-flop because of the size of the blinds and antes.  This leaves little room for what I call “real poker” and your advantage at this stage will come from knowing players’ starting hand ranges and 3bet hands.

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