So what should our approach be? Let's talk about some options:
Early Stages:I would recommend registering as early as possible, preferably before the start. If you need to jump in a little late, that's ok, there's good value in this tournament regardless. But the earlier the better… this tournament will have an unusually high saturation of weak players thanks to the prestige of the event and the myriad of very small buy-in satellites feeding micro players into it. Being in early offers a chance to get their chips before they leak them off, which most of them will do. Remember level 1 starts out 200 big blinds deep. When all the money goes in this deep, we generally want to have a very strong hand, i.e. better than 1 pair. Let the weak players overplay their AK and one pair hands in single raised pots on a high stack to pot ratios. Speculating for cheap with holdings that can make strong post-flop hands, like small pairs, suited connectors, and suited aces, could pay big dividends vs. the players who can't get away from strong 1 pair hands.
Middle stages:Once the average stack gets down to around 50bb's you will be in the middle stages. Stack sizes will vary wildly now, from very deep to very short. Your approach will depend a lot on where your own stack is now.
-Above average. You are obviously in a great position. You can put a lot of pressure on the middling stacks. They have a lot of chips to protect and will be susceptible to pressure from stacks that can ultimately bust them when they don't have a very strong holding. They will be great targets for things like 3B semi-bluffs and triple barreling.
-Median stack. From this position, you can pick on tighter short stacks for steals to maintain your chip position. Also, be on alert for bigger stacks who are clearly trying to utilize bully tactics as we mentioned above to pick on the median stacks like yours. You may find some nice trapping opportunities with big hands, or semi-bluffing opportunities with draws against their liter than normal ranges.
-Short stack. With the short stack, your options are somewhat limited. But without much to protect, you can afford to take some risks. 3B re-steal jamming over wide openers makes for a fine option. Try to pick hands with a blocker like Ax or Kx, which both remove some of the legitimately strong holdings the opener can have, plus that play reasonably well vs. their calling range.
Just folding waiting for premiums is not going to get you from the middle stages to the late stages unless the deck hits you over the head. Finding spots to accumulate chips in between the legit strong holdings you play will be an integral part of keeping your deep run potential alive.
Late stages:By now most of the weaker players will be gone, save for a handful that has run hot at the right times. Continue applying the strategies we discussed above while being cognizant of ICM implications. When you are short and moving all in, check your position relative to the next pay jump… if you're on the bubble of a jump it may be beneficial to take your time before moving all in, allowing someone on another table a chance to bust and securing you the next pay level before you put your stack at risk. If you're approaching the final table or at the final table, be aware of the ICM pressure you can put on other stacks while there are very short stacks about… the medium stacks will be loath to bust out before the shorty when pay jumps are significant.
In the final article we will talk more about general strategies to use to give yourself the best chance for success in this special large field event. Combined with navigating your way through the different stages as the tournament progresses through its structure, you may just find yourself in the end game competing for a 6 figure score.
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