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Tournament Strategy & Ring Game Strategy

The difference between tournament strategy and ring game strategy

  1. Question: Does the different payout structure between ring games and tournaments means something?

    Answer:In tournaments players are rewarded for how long they last, and in live action players are rewarded for how many chips they accumulate.

    In ring game poker, the chips player save by folding are just as valuable as the chips you win by playing. In tournament play, the chips player save are actually more valuable.

    for example: consider a typical $1,000 buy in tournament with 100 players, First place worth $40,000 out of a total prize pool of $100,000.

    At the beginning of the tournament play, everyone has 1,000 in chips with a value of $1,000. The eventual winner will have 100,000 in chips.
    In live action, would be entitled to a prize of $100,000. In a tournament, that same $100,000 is worth only $40,000, meaning that, at the end, each 1,000 in chips is only worth $400. As the stack grows, the value of each additional chip decreases, so you should be slightly more averse to taking unnecessary risks in tournaments while in live action you could take more risks.

  2. there are two cases where adjusting will help:
    • When you are just out of the money.

      Be very careful when committing your chips, especially with a call.

      With a large stack, look for opportunities to push the short and medium stacks around - especially the medium stacks. These players will be a lot less likely to want a confrontation with you, and it should be open season on their blinds and antes.

      With a medium or small stack, you need to be a bit more careful. Remember, though, that the other players - even the larger stacks - don't want to tangle with you. They just want to steal from you without a fight. Be prepared to push them around a little, and even to push back occasionally when they try to bully you. This often turns into a game of Chicken between the bigger stacks to determine which large stack will let the other steal most of the blinds.
    • How to play at the final table:

      Very little adjustment is necessary until you are one player away from the final table. Here, again, you should tighten up slightly because this is the next point where the payout structure handsomely rewards outlasting other players.

      Look for opportunities to push around the other players, and the smaller stacks in particular. This is good advice throughout the final table.
  3. About heads up:
    There are no more tournament adjustments necessary. You are essentially playing a winner take all freeze-out for the difference between first and second place.

    Tournament adjustments should be subtle. It is rare that your play would be dramatically different in a tournament. When in doubt, just play your best game. And if you never adjust from that, you've got a great shot of winning, no matter what game you're playing.