Deep Stack Poker Tournament Strategy
Multi-table tournaments have been gaining in popularity due to increased television exposure of tournament action such as the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour events. Add to that the ease in which players can join online tourneys with just a few mouse clicks, and it’s no wonder that online tournaments are often brimming with entrants.
Deep Stack tournaments are also a favorite of many poker players since they allow for a greater number of starting chips and slower blind escalation than “normal” tournaments, so to speak.
Deep Stack Tournaments are Different
Playing a Deep Stack Tourney requires a different strategy than one would employ with a smaller starting stack and faster blinds.
They Take Time
The first thing to be aware of is Deep Stack tournaments take a much longer time to conclude. Some of the bigger ones at a major site like PokerStars can go well over a dozen hours. So be prepared when you enter such a tournament that you don’t have pressing needs somewhere down the road that will force you to exit the tourney before its done.
Takes Mental Focus
That being said, you must also realize that it’s tough to stay mentally focused for such an extended period. You may believe that you are only sitting in a chair and looking at your computer monitor and not physically exerting yourself, so it’s no big deal.
However, you are concentrating on each and every hand (or should be) which takes a considerable amount of mental energy. Use the five-minute breaks each hour wisely to get up and stretch and walk around a bit to refresh your mind from the rigors of analyzing each hand and your opponents.
Deep Stack Strategies
Now then, once you have cleared your calendar and are mentally prepared, you would be well-advised in realizing that you should slow down your game using patience and discipline to a greater extent than typical tourneys. There is no need to rush things with a huge chip stack and long-lasting blinds.
Don’t Re-Raise too Often
Aggressive players unfamiliar with the deep stack structure tend to re-raise too often, as well as shove all in long before it’s necessary or recommended to do so. Re-raises are not as effective with larger stacks because not as many players will call. The ones who do call often have the best hand.
Passive Trapping Strategy
There are three approaches to collecting chips in Deep Stack tournaments. The first is to play passively by limping in and seeing flops on the cheap as much as possible. Your goal with this strategy is to exploit the weaknesses of your opponents during post-flop play.
This requires excellent skill in reading other players. Instead of trying to set a trap, your intention is to corner or isolate a less-skilled player. Employing this strategy successfully will allow you to win big pots that make up for missed flops.
Small Ball Strategy
The next strategy is referred to as small ball poker, which was made popular by such pros as Dan “Action Dan” Harrington and Daniel Negreanu. Small ball means playing a wide range of starting hands aggressively with a keen eye on your position while making small bets and raises to minimize the amount risked on those hands that don’t pan out.
This style creates a loose image that tends to entice more action from your opponents when you do hold a strong hand because players often won’t believe you because of the less than premium hands that they have seen you play. Small ball also requires superior post-flop playing skills.
The third approach is the tried and true tight-aggressive style, which typically means playing only premium hands when in a good position. Pre-flop raises and strong betting post-flop are typical of this style. You’re playing a patient game, waiting for quality cards.
When those cards do land in your hand, you bet them aggressively. It’s easier to play this style than the first two, but it is also quite simple to spot a tight-aggressive player, so you may not get much action when you are holding a monster hand if other players have read you correctly.
Mix Up Your Style
As is the case with non-deep stack tourneys and cash games, it is always preferable to mix up your playing style so as not to become too predictable. Deep Stack events are no different in that regard.
There are no hard and fast rules about the best style or approach to use in Deep Stack tournaments. Each situation or hand is different, and a lot of your decisions will also depend on the tendencies and play styles of your opponents.
Deep Stack tournaments are widely recognized as being designed for more skilled players. With plenty of time and lots of chips to make your moves, the element of luck is somewhat lessened than in the formats of other tournaments.
The skills of reading other players and using your position are much more important than increased aggression and blind stealing. So if you happen to excel in the areas of patience, discipline, and long-term concentration, Deep Stack tournaments may be your niche. Just remember to clear your calendar and be prepared to be in the game for the long haul.
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