No Limit Tournaments: When Tight Isn’t Right
Poker is such a rich game that, depending on the specific format we’re playing, a successful approach is by no means guaranteed to have the same results in an ostensibly similar scenario.This is true, for example, when considering the No Limit cash game and tournament scenarios. The conventionally accepted tight-aggressive strategy might be well suited to No Limit cash games (albeit not the only worthy approach) but, in today’s modern tournament environment – particularly online – we’re going to struggle to do better than make a minor cash if we adhere to this style too strictly.
Apart from the fact that strong holdings, by definition, come around all too rarely in this context, when we are ‘fortunate’ enough to be dealt a premium hand there is, of course, no guarantee that we are going to be rewarded with any significant action. For one reason, we have hitherto been inactive, which is already a good indication to the opposition that we’re holding something when we suddenly get involved, so they are likely to avoid commitment. And thus the cycle could well continue as the blinds inexorably rise and our stack diminishes. To compound the problem, there inevitably comes a point as the tournament progresses at which our waiting, safety-first policy seriously puts our tournament survival in jeopardy, let alone the prospects of finishing among the top prizes.
It’s simply not possible to realistically expect any level of success with a pure tight-aggressive approach. Indeed it is imperative to loosen up and experience the liberating experience for ‘too’ tight players that is broadening our starting hand range and indulging in the occasional bit of such delights as speculation and even slow-playing, for instance. This – enjoyable – strategy can begin as early as the opening stages, when the low(est) blind levels afford us considerable flexibility to mix up our game. Note that this also gives us the advantage of being able to engineer a deceptive table image.
As the blinds increase the pressure on just about everyone it makes sense to step up a gear. Instead of being overly cautious the key is to put yourself in other players’ shoes and appreciate that much of the opposition is going to be afraid, and rather than join them it’s much more important to exploit them. The phrase ‘you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’ is particularly apt when it comes to NL Hold’em tournaments…
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador