Everyone loves making the money. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing a $40 tournament in your local casino or a $25,000 High Roller on partypoker. The feeling when the money bubble bursts is a great one. You’re in profit and you can relax. But how do you get the most out of being in the money places? We take a look at turning min-cashes into deep runs.
Find Your Focus
One of the first problems many players encounter after moving through the money bubble is in retaining their focus. The money bubble can be a stressful time whether you have a big stack or not. You want to accumulate chips if you’re comfortably stacked, hang onto your stack if you’re short; everything in-between is an intense blend of concentration and hope. But in the orbits following the bubble bursting a lot of players will be forced to change their play. This can affect their judgement and you’ll do your best work if you maintain a focus through the bubble instead. Concentrate on your own stack size, and your opponents’ of course!
Welcome to Shoveland
Upon the bubble bursting, players who are short-stacked will have to make moves to get back into the game and obtain a playable stack. If you are the short-stack, then you need to find a hand to get all-in with before all the fold equity you have is gone. However, if you’re in a position to call off an all-in and hope to eliminate an opponent, then knowing their range is vital. It’s OK to tighten up a little if you’re a middle-ranked stack – judging the ability for bigger stacks to make the calls that you will find marginal may well see you rise a couple of places up the leaderboard. The initial rush of all-ins from short-stacks will inevitably lead to a slight plateau, but you should be mindful when this will change. Stacks who start the post-bubble period as being 15-20 big blinds can slip down the pecking order if they remain inactive
Watch the Ladder
While everyone has their eyes on a cash, some qualifiers into the tournament (and this holds just as true online) will be happy with a min-cash as it represents a serious improvement on their investment. However, even if you have your eyes on the top prizes in a multi-table tournament, you should keep an eye on the increments as payouts improve. Some jumps will be bigger than others. For example, the min-cash to the next amount is often a small amount, but the jump from being down to three tables to two can be life-changing money, or at least bankroll-changing. The difference from being tenth and ninth is often very little and is not representative of the pain of missing out on a final table seat. However, certain pay jumps at that final table can be so big as to change the style of play from players under threat of ending up missing out on the jump. Watch these players and adjust your play after each payout improvement. MTT poker is about knowing the motivations of your opponents in any given hand, and understanding that change of dynamic will help you maximise your profit.
Adjust from Post-Flop to Pre-Flop Play
Poker is all about adjustment, to situations within specific hands, of course, but also a general dynamic. Many players will tighten up their range during the bubble then struggle to adjust after they have got into the money. One manifestation of this is in remaining committed to playing more post-flop poker than pre-flop. It’s crucial that you adapt to the reality that a lot of the betting will be happening in the money before you see community cards. While the early stages of a tournament can play like a cash game, that is very seldom the case once everyone is getting paid. Steal blinds, push players off the pot before you have a chance of getting to showdown.
A Strong Stack Stands Firm
If you have enjoyed having a big stack during the bubble and managed to consolidate your stack or even improve to becoming one of the chip leaders, then you now want to move deeper into the tournament in that position. Be prepared to take control of the table. You can do this is many ways, but raising pre-flop, bullying players when you have position and taking advantage of short or marginally short stacks by putting them in decisions for their tournament lives are all ways you can do this.
Stack protection is important, too, however. Just because you’re a big stack (or a medium-sized stack which then vaults up the leaderboard), getting too loose will endanger your stack. We’ve all enjoyed the rush of winning a few hands in a row and becoming the player all the others fear at a table. That feeling is nice, but doesn’t last forever. Be aware of how quickly you can lose the chips you’ve recently won, but don’t be afraid to bluff, semi-bluff or pressure those without your stack if you have plenty.
One of the most important ways that you can maximise your potential once inside the money places is to balance your play and mix it up between aggressive pressure-play and counter-punching defensive play. Knowing the optimal way to play each hand is impossible. But you can keep your opponents guessing by playing a mixture of tight when it is right and putting your pedal to the metal when needed to.
Adjust for Short-Handed Play
Watching how play changes when you get to shorter-handed tables is vital to your chances when into the money, and especially as the last few tables are left in the tournament. With three to two tables and then again on the final table bubble, you’ll need to widen your opening range with hole-cards. You’ll also need to adjust your thinking when it comes to other players’ bets. A three-bet pre-flop might be a lot stronger in Level 1 than deep into the money.
There is another wrinkle to playing when short-handed and that is the value that you can sometimes extract from having monster hands such as pocket kings. The collective aggression of your rivals can lead to calls being made with worse hands than usual. With this is mind, those hands that you’d be tempted to play with a full ring and lower blinds, such as suited connectors, should become less attractive once the tournament is at the business end of proceedings.
Ready to play?
Test out your new tournament knowledge by checking out all the tournaments currently on offer with Powerfest! With millions to win, it’s the best way to grow your tournament experience and win big for less.
If you’re new, then just click here to download partypoker!