In the second part of this Day 1 tournament strategy special we look at levels 5-8 and also ask is there there any benefit on whether you play in day 1A or 1B?
Level five and six
Average stack: 24,000
Blinds: 150-300 & 150-300 (ante 25)
The tournament changes dramatically once the antes are introduced in level six. Immediately, the size of the preflop pot increases by over 50% meaning that you should look to steal more than ever before. Other people will obviously be doing the same thing so you need to counter this by squeezing, three-betting and even throwing in the occasional four-bet bluff. The chips will quickly add up.
Playing postflop becomes more dangerous at this point. Depending on the stack sizes of you and your opponents you probably won’t have too much room to manoeuvre if you are just constantly calling raises with speculative hands trying to hit the fl op hard. A good cheap bluff you can try is floating flops you suspect your opponent missed. Say you call a raise on the button with Q-J and the fl op is 8-6-4. You can call a fl op bet here because there’s a good chance your opponent has high cards that missed this board. If he checks to you on the turn you can bet less than half pot and expect to take it down a lot of the time.
Sometimes you’ll have a stack of between 5,000 and 7,000 at this point. When one of those pots develops that has a raiser and three or four callers you should just shove it in with any half-decent hand in this spot. If the initial raiser folds, it’s likely that all the other callers will too – you can easily add almost 50% to your stack just by getting this shove through uncalled.
Level seven and eight
Average stack: 28,000
Blinds: 200-400 (a50) & 300-600 (a75)
Your table is unlikely to look as it did in level one now. Players will have busted and been replaced or you may have had your table broken and been scattered around the tournament floor. Forgive me for repeating this but it’s crucial that you examine the make-up of the table immediately. You need to know exact stack sizes of all the players (and how this affects the options you have preflop).
You should also try and assess their skill level and check to see how they are coping mentally towards the end of a long day of play. If someone is openly yawning and stating, ‘I just want to make day two’, they are very unlikely to be bluffing when they pop in a four-bet!
Just as important is to find those players who have lost their heads. It’s staggering to see how many people are content to grind for seven hours, but just because they are now below the average chip stack they suddenly become desperate to gamble for their whole stack. If one of these guys is on your table be sure to call them down much lighter than you ordinarily would as their bluffing frequencies are much increased.
It’s your job to take advantage of players that are openly rocking or gambling it up. It’s also important that mentally you stay calm too. Even if you only have a 15 big blind stack you just never know what can happen on day 2 so long as you stay alive. Poker tournament history is littered with tales of players that came back from the brink to win, so never give up until it’s all over.
One of the most enjoyable spots in poker is entering the final level of the day with a big stack. People are absolutely terrified of you. Nobody wants to play huge pots with the seemingly maniacal chip leader who is opening every hand when the clock shows just 25 minutes to go. It’s important that you become that maniac if you have the stack. All the easy chips that you can pick up now will be crucial for day 2 when the whole tournament is reset and you don’t know which table you end up on.
Follow this advice and you’ll have a great shot at making the next day. Enjoy the bagging up, double count your chip stack to make sure you’ve got it right and then go and celebrate with a pint before bed – you’ve earned it.
Extras: What day?
When you decide to play a live event you’ll often have the choice whether to play day 1A or day 1B. Typically, 1A will take place on a Thursday whereas 1B will start the next day. You may not realise it but there are definite differences between the two.
1B is always much more popular with professional players because that one fewer day can significantly cut down on expenses such as hotel and food costs. This will often mean the field is tougher and making it through the day becomes a tricky proposition. On the other hand day 1B also attracts a number of recreational players that prefer to take a Friday off work to play poker than a Thursday.
If you have a choice, and real-life issues such as work aren’t an issue, we’d advise always playing day 1A. The predominant reason is because the majority of online qualifiers are registered for this day. While the phrase ‘online qualifier’ doesn’t necessarily signify fish anymore it is often an indicator that the player isn’t used to playing in events of this size and will be prone to making major errors. The more of these guys, and the less pros, you have on your starting table the better.