Pushing the button in tournament poker
poker tournaments are very similar to cash games in so many ways but also vastly different in others. One of the reasons why tournament players struggle in cash games is that you always need to play deep stacked in cash games and tournament players rarely get to practice this skill. Because your two major goals in tournaments are to survive and to accumulate chips then strategy or correct strategy is geared around these two factors. But you simply do not need to survive in cash games as there is no definite beginning or end but just one long continuation merely interrupted by when you stop playing and start back up again.
You need to be adept at short stack play to play multi table tournaments well but the natural knock on from this is that many players who play poker tournaments are simply not aggressive enough. As soon as the early stages are over then your stack is becoming more and more marginal. This is the bad news but the good news is that this is happening to more or less most of the players in the field. So you need to maintain your stack at an adequate level and what is defined as “adequate” differs from player to player.
Some players claim that you should never slip below ten big blinds but other players say that this is too low because it forces you to have to find a move very quickly due to level increases. However stack maintenance is a key part of tournament success. Also shoving with weak hands is something that many players find difficult to do. Let us look at a situation to show what I mean. The blinds are 200-400 with an ante of 50 and nine players on your table. You are in the big blind with 8-4 and a stack of 3800 after you post your blind and ante.
Two players limp in and the small blind completes making a pot of 2050. This is more than 50% of your stack and if you raise now and take the pot then your stack would become 5850 which would take you up to more than fourteen big blinds. This is still a marginal stack and you will need to make further moves but you have a chance here to pick up chips and a chance that you should not overlook. This is especially the case if your opponents have middling stacks and they do not want to lose an additional 3800 in a race.
Your all in move looks like a steal but the problem is that everyone limped and so it appears as though everyone was trying to see a cheap flop. Even if your opponents do not believe your move then if they have mediocre hands and middle sized stacks then they would be in no position to do anything about it. You need to get into the habit of looking for moves whenever you play tournament poker and playing a short stack well will be your primary skill. We recommend to use a on of the top 10 poker tools on the market.