How to Play the Final Stages of Tournaments

How to Play the Final Stages of Tournaments

The late stages of a tournament can be exciting, but can also bring the pressure of a potential big win. You’ll often find that with around 20 players left there will be a few experienced players making moves and trying to accumulate chips, which is normally the correct choice.

The illusion of getting close to the big money is that you should be defensive and cautious because your prize payout can rise simply by folding hands and watching others bust. The problem with that approach is that your own stack will slowly be worn down and your chance of finishing in the top 3 fades.

Most tournament payouts rise steeply towards the end. This means that when you take a risk, you’re losing on average, a smaller amount when you bust, but gaining a much larger average payout when it goes right.

The secondary consideration is that with 9 handed play, you have a full table with 18 players left. This means that one orbit of play takes longer and so costs you less per hand on average. When there are 10 players left, each table will be playing 5 handed, meaning that the blinds go through you almost twice as frequently. The number of players at your table increases the pressure the blinds are applying to everyone left in the tournament, meaning that tight players are being blinded away much faster. You should be more active at this phase if you have a small stack or one of the biggest. If you have a middle stack, try and keep yourself on an even keel until reaching the final table.

Also, always be aware of stack sizes. If one player has 2 big blinds and you have 12, be patient and wait to see if he falls. At the final table, spend the first orbit or two watching to see who is seems active and who seems quiet. After a short while, start to open up. Hopefully one or two players will have busted by this point. If you’ve accumulated some chips and action is 6 to 8 handed, I tend to have another couple of orbits playing tighter before going on the attack from that point to the end.

Finally, once you get heads up don’t lose your concentration due to the fact you already have a big score locked up. The pay jump heads up is the biggest in the tournament, and your heads up results in this situation will affect your return on investment percentages greatly.


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