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扑克 Multi-table tournaments (多桌锦标赛)

Winning multi-table tournaments





From the dizzying heights of the World Series of Poker down to lunch-time tourneys that you can buy into for a buck, multi-table tournaments offer some of the most exciting poker going. What draws players to multi’s is the size of the prize compared to the stake – an investment of just $10 can pay off in the thousands. The thrill of taking on hundreds, or even thousands, of other players is also hard to match.



Of course that also means is that you’ll have to beat off a lot of competition to win – but with graduated prizes reaching down through the ranks, even a finish in the top 10 to 20 per cent is normally enough to win back your stake and more.





How they work





At first glance tournaments look just like a no-limit cash game and in a lot of ways they are. But don’t think you can sit down at a tournament playing the same style you do on a cash table and expect good results. Two key differences between the formats have major implications on style of play.



You have a limited stack. Some tournaments let you re-buy or top- up your chip-stack during the initial stages of a tournament. But regardless of the tournament type you play you will eventually get to the stage where the only way you’re going to add more chips to your stack is by taking them off other players.

The blinds keep going up. Blinds go up regularly in multi- table tournaments. On average, you’ll probably see between eight and 15 hands dealt between each raise in the blinds.

Chip-stacks that can’t be topped up, combined with ever increasing blinds, conspire to gradually increase the pressure on tournament players. Understanding how tourneys evolve over time is the cornerstone of any good tournament strategy.





Early stages, including re-buy and top-up periods





Right, so you’ve paid your fee and sat down. People have said their hello’s and the first hand is dealt … and your jaw drops as three players are all-in before the flop.



While extreme, this scenario is not actually that unusual, especially in lower stakes and re-buy tournaments. Players often try to double or triple up early with big aggressive plays and the result is carnage on the tables. Remember that this is the stage where the widest variety of styles and experience are present – you’ve got everything from players with years of experience to totally green newbies, so these big bets are especially hard to read. It’s normal to see about ten to 20 per cent of players go out of a lower stakes multi-table tourney before the blinds even go up.



  

Strategy





Most experienced players spend the early part of a tournament keeping a very low profile. Folding all but premium pockets and ace big and only playing them aggressively with at least high pair after the flop. These players know that tournaments are a game of survival – the last man standing wins. It’s very hard to get a read on players early in a game and a big bet at this stage could be saying anything from, “I’ve got the nuts” to, “I’ve had way too much tequila”. Finding out which can be an expensive business. Only call with very strong openers and be prepared to fold them, especially if you’re in early position and see escalating raises (one player raises your call, then another raises again) coming in after you, this could well turn into a game of bingo with a few players all-in before the flop.





Counter strategy





Every problem presents an opportunity and if you’re feeling aggressive then the early stages of a tournament could give you the opportunity to build a strong stack by taking advantage of weak and over-aggressive play. Hit strong pockets in the early stages of a tourney and you might well find some very loose chips there for the taking. Placing a very big bet before the flop will most likely either draw out a very loose player or win you the blinds.



If you have the high pair after the flop (by either hitting your card or holding higher pockets) then a very big bet or all-in raise may just take the pot right there – or better yet, find a caller who’s fishing with a draw or has a lower kicker. It’s a risky strategy but the rewards can be great, double or triple-up at this point and you’ve put yourself in a very strong position. Loose and you can either re-buy or move on quickly to the next tournament.





Middle stage





Things start to settle down now. Players fall into their particular styles and you’ll get a chance to make some reads that may pay off later. Increases in the blind size along with natural attrition mean that the looser players still left in the game will be less inclined to take a chance on marginal hands and, gradually, most players start to tighten up.





Strategy





Tight-aggressive players will start to see more opportunities now. Hand strength will become easier to read and the occasional bluffing opportunity will also present itself, especially if you’ve got a rock sitting close by on your left.



This tightening trend will continue until you reach the ‘bubble’ – the cut-off point for finishing in the money. Gradually turning up your aggression to take advantage of this will give you the best opportunities to apply effective pressure and stay ahead of the blinds.





Short-stacked?





As a rough guide, if you’ve got less than six- times the big blind, you’re short- stacked. Now you’re looking to double up. No point getting blinded out waiting for your pocket rockets. Keep an eye on the blinds and estimate how many hands you’re likely to see before you’re blinded so low that an all-in raise before the flop would be likely to get more than one caller. Wait for the best possible hand, then employ a little strategy. Once you’ve decided that the time and cards are right to make a move you want to make a bet that’s going to attract one caller. That might be all-in or it might be just double the blind, it depends on your position and the general disposition of the table. The advantage of going all-in is that it gives you a shot at stealing the blinds without any callers. The advantage of just betting is that you’ve got a ‘second bullet’ to fire after the flop if you don’t– a speculative caller who hasn’t hit either may well fold then and there.





Big stack?





Here’s your opportunity to get a bit more aggressive, but remember, nobody ever won a tournament at the half-way point. Avoid the temptation to call a lot of flops with marginal hands in the hopes that one will hit. Instead, use your extra chips to apply pressure to weaker players (remember the gap). If you’re going into a pot with marginal cards you’re better off going in with a raise. Go bluffing too often though and short stacks will start to target you for doubling up opportunities.



  

Congratulations, you’ve made the final table!





There’s nothing quite like the shiver of excitement that runs up your spine when you make a final table in a big tourney. Prizes really start going up now and you’re so close you can taste it.



Psychology plays a big role on the final table. Some players virtually tilt from the pressure and either freeze-up or get over-aggressive. Prepare your mind and you’ll avoid this pitfall…





Recharge.



To make the final table in a multi-table tournament takes hours of hard fought poker. Now that you’ve achieved that goal you don’t want to let up. You won’t have time to do a lot in the way of prep-work but do what you can to clear your mind and re-charge your batteries. Have a cold glass of water, do some breathing exercises – get the blood flowing to your brain and prepare for a new challenge.



Anyone can win it.



Short-stacked? Inexperienced? It doesn’t matter – the final table is a great leveler. The blinds have reached a point where every hand represents a major swing in chips and even if you’re low-chip, you’re only a couple of good hands away from being a contender. As for inexperience – hey, if you’ve got what it takes to get this far, you’ve got what it takes to go all the way.



Stick to your guns.



Whatever you were doing to get this far in the tourney is obviously working. There’s no point messing with a new style now – unless you’re short- stacked and had to play some very tight poker to make it past the bubble. If that’s the case then other players on the table might make the mistake of thinking you’re a rock and go after you with a bluff – your big chance to double up might just come with the slow-play.



It’s not about the money, it’s about the win.



Big stakes can ruin styles. If you start thinking about all the money that’s on the line you can loose your nerve and let fear take over your decision making. Now is not the time to be making emotional decisions. Whether it’s call, bet, or fold force yourself to review your decisions against what you know about the game of poker and the players you’re up against – there will be plenty of time to think about money after the tournament.



Head to head

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