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Playing Large Tournament Fields

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Tips for Getting Past the Big Field Tournaments

Having played my fair share of Sunday Tournaments I know they can be very hard to finish highly in.   The most popular of these: the Stars $1.5 million GTD and the UB $200k GTD contain thousands of entrants but but that makes the chances of a payoff are quite slim.  With over 7,000 entrants on average in the Stars Sunday Million, I happily recommend alternatives such as Bodog’s $100k GTD or UB’s weekly $200k GTD.  If you’re still dead keen on the big tournaments then here are some tips for you.

Stay Tight Early & Let the Agro-Maniacs Bust Out

Big tournaments have massive rewards, hence you’ll find a lot of regs shoving their stacks in early and trying to double up and get top of the tournament chip leaderboard.  The fields will thin fastest because in the first few rounds.  To stop yourself getting busted out by over limpers and players shoving light, I suggest playing extra tight in the first half dozen hands and quite literally fold all of your non-premo hands from EP.  I’d be looing at a VPIP% of 10% or even less depending on the table.   Unless you literally have AA or KK, I don’t recommend entering pots from EP or SB because there are just too many players left to re-raise the pot.  Normally I’ll happily set-mine with low pockets regardless of my position at the table but even these become suspect when you’re facing 3bets pre-flop.

Focus on the Game, Not the Payoffs and Remaining Players

My biggest distraction as a tournament player is checking who bust out when and how many players are remaining every 5 minutes.  It’s important to know what level of the tournament you’re in and how close you are to the bubble, of cours this affects your strategy and looseness of play  But you shouldn’t be distracted when you could be picking up valuable tells and action from players who you might encounter later on.  Playing in the big guaranteed tournaments can also be quite unsettling for new players or those who qualified through satellites, and my tip is just to focus on your game and don’t think too much about the money. 

Turning Off When You Switch Tables

Your knowledge and ability to categorise players is one of the rare skills that great tournament players possess.  In the later stages of a tournament your ability to read someone’s 3bet or re-steal range from UTG is the type of information that will win you the tournament.  So everytime you switch tables don’t turn off.  Uppdate yourself on the new players because there is alot of changing information you need to process, including the average M-zone and VPIP% of the table.  It can be difficult and stressful, but again this is what will get you to the final table and give you an edge on your opponents.

Use Your Tournament Breaks Wisely

Tournaments at major poker sites have synchronised breaks – usually 5 minutes every hour.  The best way to take advantage of these is to go to the toilet, drink/eat, do some exercise and generally anything that will wake yourself up and improve concentration for the next hurdle. If you’re playing for another 4 hours you’ll probably regret wasting your time checking your emails.


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