Deep stack poker tournaments are those where players have a stack that is at least 100 times the big blind, and generally more. Such tournaments require a different strategy, because for one, they obviously tend to go on for longer, looking at the stack size. You don’t want to go grinding hard for an entire day and then lose your hard-earned stack in one wrong move.
The other reason is that such tournaments rarely see all-in pots owing to the large stack and smaller blinds. Hence, betting must be done carefully because mistakes can cost you greatly. Here’s a little peek into some strategies that you can use to play and sustain in deep-stack poker tournaments.
Read your opponent
After playing a few hands, it will be easier for you to get a read on your opponents and understand their game play. With aggressive players, it’s a good technique to be counter aggressive. Playing offensively when you have strong cards and making strong bets (4-bets) will work in your favour. Just be careful not to limp into a hand and fold in the end if your opponent gets equally offensive.
This strategy works better against weak players. The stronger you come on, the more times they are forced to make difficult decisions. If they can’t get a read on you, it causes them to fold most of the time. Observe your opponent and then decide how you want to play him.
Once you have a good idea of your opponent’s playing style, it is easier to place pre-flop bets that give you higher implied odds and hence more chances of winning. If you know that your opponent usually bets small with marginal hands, then you can easily call a pre-flop 3-bet with good yet marginal cards such as suited connectors, gappers, suited aces with high cards, etc.
These hands are best played in position. The reason why such hands can be played in a deep stack tournament is, owing to the size of the stacks and your high implied odds, it becomes beneficial to see the flop. Hence, calling 3-bets or marginal bets pre-flop and going to the flop can prove to be profitable.
Don’t back yourself into a difficult spot pre-flop.
When playing with smaller stacks, aggressive players will go all-in pre-flop on higher cards such as QQ, KK or even pocket 10s. However, when you are playing deep stack, you should be a little more careful.
If you have 4-bet pre-flop with QQ and your opponent 5-bets you, then you must rethink your move. In a deep stack tournament, you have twice as much to lose just as you have twice as much to win. If you have risked your stack, then know that your opponent has done the same and hence he too must be playing on a tighter range. Do not fall for the play in such cases. Backing yourself into a difficult spot will cause you a lot of loss.
Look at the pot
It is important to control the pot when you are playing deep stacks. It’s best to play cautious with hands such as top pairs or two pairs, because as mentioned above, you have a lot more to lose. It’s best to check at such times or fold if there are cards that may give your opponent more draws.
It is a good idea to control the pot. Do not invest too much defending a weaker hand by calling your opponent’s bets. Checking or folding is the way to go. The more you put into the pot on weak cards, the more you stand to lose.
Players automatically tend to bluff lesser when the stacks are deep. If the bluff goes well, then it is very profitable. But if you find an opponent with a made hand who is willing to call your bluff or a calling station who got lucky, then things can go south pretty fast.
Think about it this way. Suppose you check on the turn after calling post-flop and sensing it as weakness your opponent goes all-in on the river. There’s a good chance he may be bluffing but if the pot is big, then are you willing to risk something like 100 or 150 BBs to find out? If you want to bluff, make sure your opponent is a tight player, put him on a tight range of hands and observe how he bets, and if he calls or raises then fold out instead of losing more of your stack.
Using opponent’s weakness as an advantage
One of the ways to play your opponent is to use aggression to take advantage of his weakness. Aggression does not mean going all-in. If you get called or make a mistimed move, then you’d have made a very expensive mistake.
Try something effective yet careful, like bluffing pre and post flop. If you bet heavy pre-flop and follow it up with a c-bet then there are higher chances that your opponent will fold. This is because like you, your opponent is also thinking about all the possibilities.
Deep stack poker tournaments are fun to play. They go on for longer and the strategies are just as important as the game play. They are not like the regular small games because there is a lot at stake here. If you play your cards right, then you stand to win a lot.