Playing the Big Stack in Poker Tournaments

Playing the Big Stack

Having a big stack in No Limit Hold'em poker tournaments is useless if you don't know how to play your stack right. The difference in play from when you are playing a normal stack to playing with a big stack is huge. You can make looser calls and bigger bets in different situations. Having an aggressive poker strategy is important in NL Hold'em tournaments, especially if you are the chip leader (biggest stack).

Big Stack - Looser Calls, Play Aggressive

Winning hand after hand to have the big stack in a NL Hold em tournament is only half of the battle. You must keep manufacturing chips if you want to be the winner. Making looser calls is one of the ways to do so - limping in with hands of lesser value hoping that you will flop a nut hand. Late in a tournament you may never dream of playing hands like 67 or 78, but you can if you have a big stack and some extra chips to throw around. If you can afford to gamble and play more loose and aggressive, I say do it.

Putting your opponent's whole stack on the line when you have a good starting hand is a must. If you're dealt KK (or any other hand you would raise pre-flop) as your starting hand, make them pay as much as possible to draw against you. If you do lose it's no big deal since you have a lot of chips to throw around. It's much easier and a lot more fun playing when your tournament life is not at stake. Having a big stack intimidates the other players and that is good thing. You may have an average hand, and bet big into a better hand, but since you are putting their tournament life at stake, they may lay down their hand and fold at the fear of getting knocked out.

Late in Tournament, Play with Your STACK

Having the big stack late in a tournament is a huge deal since the blinds are big later into the tournament. This gives you the advantage of being able to buy the blinds whenever you get the chance. This brings me back to manufacturing chips. At a certain point in any tournament you have to keep that stack growing if you want to be the top finisher, so do not be afraid to play with your stack and not your cards in this situation. I'm not telling you to bet and raise every hand and be a blatant bully - if you do you will get called a lot more and start losing your stack.

One thing I should add is something I am sure you are aware of. No Limit Texas Hold'em (like all poker games) is an information game. The more information about you that your opponents accumulate, the better chance they have at making calls against you and winning your chips. With that said, when you are pushing your big stack around, DO NOT show your cards in situations where you have bet your opponent out of the pot and he has folded to you. If you bluff someone and show them, they are going to note it and call you next time.

The big stack is a powerful tool, so use it right and you will advance far. Bluff, raise pre-flop to buy those blinds, and NEVER take the pressure off your opponents. The moment you show weakness is when they will swoop in and come after you. With these strategies and a little luck (as always needed in any game of poker), you may find yourself playing heads up for 1st place in no time.

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