LAST week we looked at early thoughts and strategy for a poker tournament. Today we consider the middle stages. Here we can go from being deep-stacked at the start (lots of chips compared to the blinds) to short-stacked near the end. In this stage your chips (your soldiers) are out there fighting and are quickly becoming more valuable as each round of blinds potentially brings you one step closer to elimination. It’s at this point you can no longer afford to sit around waiting for only the best hands.
You need to steal blinds and protect your chips to keep yourself from getting short. Once you get too short your only move left is all in.
It’s always better to take a risk to keep yourself sitting with a healthy stack than to wait until you’ve been whittled down and forced to take a risk just to stay alive. When you have roughly ten big blinds left you’re in the danger zone.
If you take the risk to stay healthy and accumulate more chips but lose, you will usually still have a handful of chips left to try again with.
If you wait until you’re really short stacked and in dire straits you have no second chance. All-in shoves with pocket pairs and good Aces is the move.
The goal in the middle stages for beginners and recreational players is simply to stay in the game, stay alive and get yourself into the money (a tournament pro though, doesn’t really care about making the money and plays to win at all times).
This comes with more experience, more advanced plays and a fair bit of luck as well. Once you’re into the money, you’ve entered the late stages of the tourney.
Now you want to win.