Feb 22, 2020

Tournament Poker: Late Stage Guide

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The late stages of a poker tournament include the process starting at the bursting of the bubble to the first-place finish at the FT.

Before you start reading about the late stage, go read about how to play early and mid-stages of a poker tournament and come back after.

So here are a few poker strategy tips to keep in mind if you aim to have a deeper run in a game:

Understanding ICM Implications

Due to Independent Chip Modelling (ICM) implications, a particular play may pan out depending on the stage of the tournament the game is currently on. The most intense play is when the ICM pressure is the highest- when players are playing to finish in the bubble. This happens because the pay jumps are massive.

As the players start aiming to reach the final table, the ICM pressure continues to build up.

The most important goal after the bubble should be to build the biggest stack as fast as possible even if it means that you could bust out.

Post Bubble Strategy

A player’s aim should be to build an above-average stack for the final table until the pay jumps become massive again. There is no point in playing conservatively with a short stack at this stage of the game. So if you have a short stack in this phase of the game, start playing aggressively.

Busting out of the game at this stage wouldn’t be a big deal because the next pay jump will not be a significant one.

It goes without saying that a player shouldn’t take unnecessary risks to build a healthy stack, but they will be subject to additional pressure with a short stack if they fail to act and blind out.

Basically, any decision that would help increase the value of a player’s tournament payout, in the long run, should be considered.

Final Table Strategy

At this stage, the ICM pressure begins to increase once again as the players reach the final table. The intensity of the effect depends on the size of the pay jumps. So larger gaps in the payouts mean higher intensity of ICM pressure experienced by the players at the FT.

For example:

Player 1: 7,000 chips

Player 2: 10,000 chips

Player 3: 15,000 chips

If you are player 2, you would want player 1 and player 3 to get head-to-head and try to play tightly.

If you are player 1, you would expect player 2 and player 3 to get into a head-to-head battle. This would zero down your risk of any loss and will let you finish in the second place. However, if they are not being in the confrontational phase, then you are definitely under a lot of pressure.

So when professional players talk about the ICM pressure, they are referring to different kinds of pressure depending on your position on the table.

  • Big stacks enjoy the advantage of the fact that players show to try to avoid getting involved with them.
  • Mid-stacks play tighter, hoping to eliminate others.
  • The shortest stack faces the highest intensity of pressure to make a move first.
  • Players try to get involved with players with whom they have covered earlier to avoid the risk of elimination.

Apart from this, there is obviously the psychological factor that comes into play. However, you can prepare yourself by studying the sport and the format of the poker variant you will be playing next.

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Read 251 times Last modified on Monday, 12 August 2019 08:09

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