The Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) kicks off on Thursday April 30th 2020 and it is likely that you will be entering much larger tournaments than usual. Therefore, it is important to learn what strategic demands the larger field size places on our game. Here are few ways to adjust.
Scope out the Table before you Take Risks
The SCOOP draws weaker players into bigger events than usual. Early on, the field is still very unfiltered. 100% of the bad players in the event are still there and a few of them might just be at your table. When there is no pressure to steal blinds for sustenance or take coin flips in order to avoid being blinded out, there is time to wait for bigger edges. It is often correct in a SCOOP event to patiently decline a small edge against a reasonable opponent in a big pot in order to wait for that eight-month early Christmas present from a splashy weaker opponent. If you have already lost 60% of your starting stack, then the aggro-monkey shoving into your KK has just lost 60% of its potential value.
Once you know that there are multiple soft spots on the table, your goal is to loosen up pre-flop in small pots and see more flops with these opponents. If instead, you learn that the table is full of stronger opponents, then I’m afraid it’s time to knuckle down and take every small edge that comes your way – embracing the higher variance like a jump into an icy lake. The point is not to take these small edges until you know there the table does not offer anything more promising.
Gather Reads Like a Machine
SCOOP events can play very deep in the mid-stages. This leaves a lot more room for manoeuvre and exploitation. Plays that simply do not have enough room to exist now come into fruition. You can wait for that turn bet from the aggressive double-barreler before making a raise; you can call the 3-bet with a small pocket pair because Villain has a lot of money behind and is likely to stack-off wide when you make a set.
Because of this extra freedom to outplay your opponents, it is very important that you gather information on your initial table like a machine. When not involved in a pot, it is important to stay eagle-eyed, ready to jot down the slightest imbalance in an opponent’s tendencies if that hand reaches showdown. By utilising the notes box on PokerStars by right clicking an opponent and typing in your observations, you will have assembled a large database of reads on your table. By the time we reach the mid-stages, where stacks are deep and pots are huge, you will have an encyclopaedia of notes to illuminate exploitative plays you would otherwise have missed.
3-Bet Aggressively with a Chip Advantage (Especially in Position)
The extra stack depth in the mid-stages allows for a lot more pre-flop aggression outside of the realms of the old shove or fold style enforced by shallower events. It is therefore imperative that you master the optimal 3-Bet size and practice applying pressure by 3-Betting wide openers with a much wider range in position than the one you might shove with in a faster-paced event.
With the blinds at 400/800, a cautious tight-aggressive player with 24000 opens the CO for 1800. You sit on the BU with 42,000, nicely poised to apply infinite pressure to this tame Villain, who has the massive handicap of having to act first post-flop. You look down at your cards and see a nice little suited gapper – 9♥7♥. This is a classic opportunity to make a profitable resteal. By making it 4,300, you threaten Villain’s stack since he has no sensible 4-Bet size other than to shove. His other options are fold and call out of position and so he finds himself truly stuck between a rock and a hard place. By sizing so adeptly, you have forced him into one of three unattractive corners, and, given that he has enough of a stack to want to protect, he is unlikely to choose the shove option without a strong hand. If he calls, you can use your position to apply further pressure, or realise your equity for free, depending on how you judge the situation on the flop. This is a luxurious position to be in.
Making 3-Bets like this one is a classic example of making the most of an early chip lead.
Play to Win
Sometimes players can become intimidated by the large field size of a SCOOP event and fall into the trap of trying to scrape into the money. Even in large fields, where you are less likely to go really deep, this is still a losing strategy. In any MTT, the money is concentrated heavily in the final few places. This is where the massive reward awaits and for good reason – it encourages action, making the tournament more exciting and the buzz of a deep run more intense. Scraping into the money in a $200+$20 event might net you $400 for a net gain of $180, but the odds of making it this far are stacked heavily against you since 80% of the field has usually been eliminated by this point. It follows from this that if you play to simply make the money, you will be a long-term loser.
The correct strategy therefore is to aim for first place every time. Take risks in the later stages when the odds favour you and exploit others being too tight on the bubble. In the long run, you need just one top three finish in such an event to make your career so you can certainly afford to risk a few $400 cashes when shooting for the $250,000 of first place, or whatever it may be. Large field tournaments are all about having a lower chance of a big score but getting a much bigger reward when you do succeed. Forget about worming your way into the money unless you want to be a long-term loser who almost never experiences the exhilaration of a deep run.
- Do not risk massive investments for minimal edges until you are sure that are no bad players on your table.
- Gather reads like mad early on. The deeper stacks will enhance your potential for using them later on.
- Non-all-in 3-Betting becomes a really valuable skill due to the deeper stack depth of such events.
- Aiming to survive the bubble is a losing strategy. Go for glory every single time. You can afford to bust a few times on the way to that huge cash.
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