The 20 biggest MTT mistakes: Part 2

Deep stack tournaments give you the chance to scoop a huge prize for a small outlay, and provide a real test of your poker skills. Looking for help? We can’t guarantee you’ll win every big tournament you play in, but we can ensure you don’t bust out through a silly mistake…

Deep-stack MTTs are great fun. You get lots of chips, which means you can try out all the moves you’ve learned over the years against your peers and – depending on the level of event you’re playing – some of the world’s top pros. They also give you the chance to win life-changing money, with millions up for grabs in the biggest events.

They can be brutal though. Depending on the structure, deep-stack MTTs can go on for a long, long time. And the volatility of NLHE means you can play perfectly for hours on end and then bust from a single mistake. Believe us, there’s nothing worse than making the walk of shame knowing you messed up.

The good news is that you never have to experience that feeling again. We’ve compiled a list of the biggest mistakes you can make in deep-stack MTTs so you never have to make them again. If it helps propel you to a massive win our cut is a measly 5%.

11. Tilting

It can happen when you get your set of Aces cracked by a runner-runner ush. Or when you get a bit of needle from someone who’s just won a pot off you. However you get there, playing when you’re emotional or tilting is very bad for your stack. The tournament won’t stop for you but you can decide to take a break. Get up and walk around for 10 minutes and get some fresh air if you can. Tell yourself that everything that happens is a part of the game and you’re not going to let it adversely affect your chances of doing well in the tournament. When you’re feeling calm, sit back down and carry on playing.

12. Calling too much

At the start of the tournament it’s all about your speculative hands. When the stacks are deep, disguised suited cards can win you lots of chips and there’s plenty of implied odds to make it worth limping. Don’t take this strategy too far. As the blinds rise and the stacks get shallower, you need to stop calling and start raising. Suited connectors and small pairs lose their value with a medium stack. If you keep limp/folding you’re going to get short stacked before you know it. Adjust your game and try to get out of the habit of limping when your stack is shorter.

13. Moaning about your cards

Being card dead really sucks in a big tournament when you’re on an active table where it’s really hard to find spots to steal and stay in the game. But it happens and you’ve got to find a way of dealing with it.

Pick your spots and try to attack players who haven’t shown much resistance pre op. Picking up blinds and antes once an orbit will keep your stack happy. Remember that only you know you’re folding rubbish hands. Everyone else at the table will think you’re ultra-tight and you can use that image to steal pots and keep yourself in the game until your luck turns. For that reason you should never start complaining about your cards and let people know what’s really going on.

14. Not using your big stack

If you’re lucky enough to accumulate chips early on, then make good use of them. You should keep the pressure on your table, who won’t want to tangle with you unnecessarily. Target the weak, passive players who will fold too much to you and only play back with a monster. Be prepared to take your foot off the pedal if people do start playing back at you though. You can lose a big stack in a much shorter space of time than it took you to accumulate it. You shouldn’t gamble too much either. Lots of players build stacks and then decimate them by making calling shoves too wide just because they can afford it. Do you really think your K-J is good? Base this on a specific read rather than the fact you’ve got five times as many chips as your opponent

15. Not abusing the bubble

If you’re a short stack the period approaching the bubble can be the worst part of a tournament. Play crawls to a halt and bust-outs seem to stop completely. Cashing should be your first aim so you need to keep an eye on the play at your table, and try to find out if there are other short stacks on other tables. 10BBs might be a short stack but if you’ve just paid the blinds you can eke out that stack for a decent amount of time.

If you’re a medium-big stack though, this is your time to shine. Pro players love the bubble if they’ve got a stack. It’s their time to get busy, raising and three-betting lots of pots in a bid to accumulate chips and put pressure on the players that don’t want to bust before the money.

If you’ve got a stack it’s a huge mistake to not do the same thing. Target the players who are clinging on and the medium stacks who don’t want to get involved in a huge confrontation that could see them eliminated before the shorties. This is your chance to play yourself into a really strong position for your tilt at the final table.

16. Not responding post bubble

Once the bubble bursts and everyone’s in the money things can go a little crazy. All the short stacks that have been hanging on suddenly get a new sense of freedom and start happily shoving their stacks in a bid to get lucky or go home.

If you’ve been raising every hand with a decent stack it’s time to adjust and start to play proper poker again. Take stock of the stack sizes on your table and play accordingly, watching out for anyone who’s obviously got itchy feet.

Remember generally that stacks are shallower now compared to the blinds so there’s going to be more pre op play. You should be calling less and raising/three- betting more. Your next target should be the final table.

17. Abusing the final table bubble

Congratulations, you’re almost at the final table! Making a final table is a real achievement and once you’re there, anyone can win, even the shortest stack. Before you get there, though, there’s another bubble to abuse. Everyone wants to make the final table and the dynamics on the final two tables can be similar to the money bubble, with some players holding on and others accumulating chips.

With a big stack you should be looking to three-bet in a variety of circumstances. Players with medium stacks are your targets, as they are more likely to err on the side of caution. Try to stay away from good thinking players if at all possible, although one scenario that crops up occasionally at this stage is the re-resteal.

A re-resteal is when you target a thinking opponent who is attempting to resteal his way to the final table. A resteal is when you attempt to win the pot pre op by re-raising over the top of an active pre op player who you believe is targeting a weaker player at the table and has a stack where he can fold.

This is a move that will only work in a deep-stacked situation, preferably against a player who is capable of folding and who has been very active. Taking advantage of these sorts of situations will dramatically increase your chances of making the final table with a dominant stack and a good shot at the top spots.

18. Taking a bad deal

When you’re on the final table talk might move to a deal. Generally this happens when there’s four players or less left, but we’ve known full nal tables chop a tourney before. Some players like doing deals and others won’t consider them. They’re there to cut down on the variance when stacks are shallow and the pay jumps are big.

If the money means a lot to you, you might want to deal. If you do, don’t be pressured into taking a deal that doesn’t work for you, even if you’re the only one on the table who’s against it.

If you’ve got a friend there, discuss it with him. You can also put the details into an ICM calculator online which uses the independent chip model to come up with equity figures. This favours the shorter stacks but is more commonly used than the chip-chop model which pays according to stacks and favours the big stacks. If in doubt, play on. There’s nothing worse then realising you’ve taken a bad deal in the heat of the moment that gives you little more than you would have got anyway.

19. Not adjusting for short-handed play

As people start to bust out of the final table you need to start ramping up your aggression. As play gets short handed you need to start opening with a much wider range of hands or you’ll risk blinding out. To practise your gambling techniques why not find a good online casino site by visiting

The big money is in the top three spots of a tournament so if there’s no deal then you need to open up your game and go for the win. Fortune favours the brave.

20. Getting unlucky

Unless you’re Phil Hellmuth you can’t win a poker tournament without getting lucky at some point. You might not have to come from behind on a op with 5% equity, but you will have to win a few coin flips – especially on the final table where shallow stacks and short-handed play dictate a lot of all-ins pre op.

So practice them the day before the tournament. Pick heads or tails, then ip a coin until you’re a fair way ahead of 50% and then quit.

Okay, we’re joking. That won’t improve your chances of winning flips on the big day. For that you’ll need to wear your lucky underpants. Good luck!

To read the first part of this enthralling feature click here

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