Check Out This Strategy For Freezeout Tournaments

Freezeout tournaments are considered the purest form of tournament poker, but do you know the correct strategy to succeed in them?

An increasing number of online poker and live poker tournaments are played with a re-entry format. However, freezeout tournaments are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, a format some regard as the purest form of tournament poker.

Freezeout tournaments take their name from the fact you are frozen out once you lose all your chips. You are permanently out of the game once you bust; there is no rebuying or re-entering here. This format requires a slightly different approach from a re-entry tournament as a result.

What To Expect From a Freezeout Tournament

Your typical freezeout tournament has a smaller guarantee than one that permits re-entries. The reason why is simple: the poker site has a finite number of entrants buying in. For example, you may find a $109 buy-in re-entry event with a $500,000 guaranteed prize pool, but the freezeout equivalent will have a guarantee closer to $200,000.

This does not mean freezeout tournaments are not potentially lucrative, far from it. However, re-entry or rebuy events always have larger guarantees.

Why should you play in a freezeout if the prize money is not as substantial? Because they level the playing field for everyone. Re-entry tournaments allow players with larger bankrolls to play looser and take more risks. This sees them build a big stack they can wield at the business end of the tournament, or they bust, re-enter, and try again.

Freezeout events give players one shot and one shot only. You no longer fear busting a talented opponent, only for them to buy back in and take you out later on.

Strategy For Freezeouts

There is no right or wrong way to approach a freezeout or any other tournament type. You pay your money and get to play however you wish. That said, it is vital to remember that your starting stack is the only chips you receive in this format. Therefore, they need protection at all costs.

Regular freezeout grinders tend to approach the early stages conservatively, adopting a tight-aggressive style. Conserving chips is equally, if not more important than accumulating them during the early stages. Doubling your stack early in any tournament feels excellent, but how often do you see the early leaders reach the final table or go on to win? Not many is the answer.

It is often the correct strategy to avoid unnecessary confrontations if you feel a better spot will appear later in the event. For example, a crazy player in the small blind open-shoves, and you look down at ace-king. You are almost certainly ahead but could be around a 65% favorite. Lose, and you bust. Folding feels tight, but it allows you to fight another day. You would snap-call in a rebuy or re-entry tournament.

Of course, playing a style the opposite of your opponents often yields positive results. Feel free to play slightly looser if your opponents are playing overly tight. Just do not go crazy and start raising with complete junk hands; you always want some equity.

Approaching The Latter Stages

The latter stages of a freezeout play the same as any other tournament. How you progress depends on your stack size and the stack sizes around you. Be prepared to open-shove with 15 big blinds or less. There is no point raising a normal amount here because getting called and then folding post-flop eats away at your stack. In addition, raising from a relative short-stack and then being three-bet all-in puts you in a tricky spot. If you plan to call a three-bet shove, why not just rip it in in the first place?

Medium-sized stacks are the best opponents to target. They are cruising along without a care in the world. Shorties are looking for spots to commit their chips, while the big stacks often spite call you because they can afford to take a hit to their stacks if they call and lose.

Finally, it is essential to play for the victory. The majority of the money in tournaments is paid to the top three positions. Going for the win and busting in 20th is frustrating, but the times you make it into the top three more than makes up for those minor disappointments.

Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson

You name the game, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Brad has either played it or placed a wager on it! Brad calls himself a natural gambler, and someone who gains as much enjoyment from writing about the crazy game of poker as he does playing it.

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