So you’ve got your ticket to the Sunday Million. You’ve prepared mentally, are well rested, have some snacks on hand, and the game is about to start. Now that it’s go-time, how should you approach the early game strategy? In this article, we are going to talk about just that.
At the start of the tournament, the stacks will be very deep relative to the blinds. This means a few things:
Let’s talk about each of these in order. Firstly, with deep stacks and low blinds in the early levels, it’s reasonable to assume we may be playing at this table, with these opponents, for longer than perhaps any other table we find ourselves during the event. Getting reads quickly becomes of paramount importance so we can seek opportunities to capitalize on this situation. Some things to look for specifically with the players to your right:
And with the players on your left:
While we are always striving to accumulate chips, the true disaster in the early stages is losing all of ours. You will see other players get into crazy preflop reraising wars and turn over AKo and 88. This is not good poker super deep stacked. Note I’m not suggesting we should fold these hands, but really it’s ok to stop reraising with reckless abandon and playing 400+bb pots preflop. If you get into marginal situations, it is often prudent to err on the side of caution in the early stages. There’s an old saying, you can’t win a tournament in the first few levels, but you can lose it. Keep that in mind here.
And this leads us to the last point… early setbacks are not the end of the world. You flopped a set and lost half your stack to a rivered straight? Okay, shake it off, there’s more poker to be played. While this will make you one of the short stacks at the table, take note of how many big blinds you have. You will likely still have between 50-100 big blinds. This is nothing to panic over. While the early loss was less than ideal, a 50bb stack is plenty to work with. It’s critical to not lose your mind trying to “get it back” quickly, or tilt off the rest. Buckle down, stay focused, and play your “A” game. In the 2012 WSOP Main Event, eventual Champion Greg Merson was crippled down to less than 2 big blinds on day 5. If he can spin that back up into a win on one of poker’s biggest stages, you should never panic with a pile of chips as big as 50 bigs.
As you begin your Sunday Million campaign, try to keep these points in mind. Focus on observing what your opponents are doing, think about how you might be able to exploit what you learn about them, then look for situations to capitalize on what you’ve identified to accumulate chips. Protect your stack in the early stages, don’t be eager to put it all at risk in marginal situations. And when things go sideways early, never panic. Re-focus on how many big blinds you have and how you want to approach that stack size. 50 bigs may be the shortest stack at your table, but it’s still 50 bigs… there is a lot of play left in that stack to work with.