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Poker articles - Playing with a big stack in a poker tournament

 

Playing with a big stack in a poker tournament

 
Playing with a big stack might seem to be the greatest scenario while enjoying Texas Holdem tournament action, but often times it can lead a player down the road to a quick tournament death. Although you can stand to benefit from playing with a large stack, many players choose to turn their brain off, or at the very least begin to cruise on auto pilot and stop playing good poker. In order to avoid such pitfalls, and post tournament self deprecation, "What was I thinking?" type questions, consider these few gems to help keep you focused on the task at hand. If your stack is big, you want it bigger!
 
One frequent problem that arises when players have a substantial chip count early in a tournament is the playing of too many hands. It's just like when you get too much money for a birthday when you're a kid. It begins to burn a hole in your pocket, and the next thing you know you're spending your unexpected bounty on junk. Hands that are suspect become, "why not give it a shot" hands, and before a player knows it, they've dipped below their starting stack and are playing from behind.
 
Another scenario that pops up all too often are the all-in challenges. Players with large stacks see fit to call a move all-in because they feel they can "afford" such a play and potentially eliminate a player from the tournament. Instead of trying to eliminate a player that stands to gain a few chips by moving all-in, it would serve the player with the big stack to continue to play good poker. Taking unnecessary risks will eventually get a player knocked down hard, and sometimes knocked out.
 
With these common pitfalls being mentioned, let's switch gears to a positive outlook and consider how exactly a player should approach the game when they're playing a big stack. You do want to stay aggressive, but you want to keep your action tight. As competitors come closer to their demise, you can certainly lean on them a bit and eliminate them if the opportunity presents itself. At the same time, allowing competitors to squabble with one another is often an excellent way to let them beat one another up while you learn more about them. You should stay aggressive when play order offers you the opportunity to add to your stack, stealing blinds, using the slow play, check raising, etc., yet in the same breath you can remain carefree when posting blinds; don't get caught trying to protect them if you're dealt junk!
 
Ultimately, playing with a large stack should serve as security, but should by no means dictate how you play. You should always play good poker, and play to win! As the tournament progresses, it will put you in a great position of power if you continue to increase your chip count, helping offer the greatest opportunity to finish in the money.
 
 
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