How To Play Poker Tournaments With a Big Stack

Being a big stack in a poker tournament is an envious position and one you should take full advantage of.

Having a big stack of chips at your disposal when playing poker tournaments is an envious position to be in. Being a big stack opens up many doors that would otherwise be shut. You can use your dominating position to build an even bigger stack. You get to dictate how your table plays. It’s great being a big stack, it really is!

It’s difficult accumulating enough chips to be considered a big stack so it’s important to make it count when you find yourself in this position. I’ve lost count of the times where I’ve seen someone blow their advantage by playing incorrectly.

Players usually build their stack in one of two way: playing well or running well. The latter can be particularly dangerous because you’re lulled into a false sense of security. We’ll talk about that later. Let’s take a look at some pointer for playing with a big stack.

Use Your Big Stack To Your Advantage

This seems so obvious that it’s ridiculous to include in tips for playing a big stack. You’d be surprised to see how some big stacks clam up and play super tight once they’ve some chips. It’s like they don’t want to risk losing their big stack so just try to cruise to the money. Having a big stack gives you a significant chance of reaching the final table or even winning the tournament. You have to take these chances because they don’t occur often.

Remember this: nobody can eliminate you when you’re a big stack, but you can eliminate them. Players are scared of locking horns with opponents who can bust them for obvious reasons. Your opponents will assume you’ve got into this envious position by running hotter than the sun. Hardly anyone likes to admit their opponents are excelling through skill.

This means you can take stabs at pots as bluffs and will have a good chance to win the pot uncontested. Put a bet out when a possible straight or flush comes in and watch them fold. I bet they mutter under their breath who they wish they run hot!

Don’t go crazy, however, and start bluffing at every opportunity. That big stack of yours can soon dwindle away.

Use Your Big Stack To Target Those With The Most To Lose

You should assume the role of the table bully whenever you have a big stack. This means attacking those smaller / weaker than you and avoiding those who can stand up for themselves.

Fellow big stacks should be avoided unless you have a good hand or they are a weak player. It will be impossible to avoid other big stacks all the time, poker throws up some random encounters. Just don’t go taking on other well-stacked players just for the sake of it.

Target those players who have the most to lose by tangling with you. These tend to be the medium stacks who are cruising along nicely but who you can send to the showers. Medium stacks are more likely to duck out of the way when you raise into them or three-bet them. They prefer to take on players with shorter stacks then they’re armed with. Medium stacks can’t bully you, but they can apply pressure to short stacks.

You can also attack the small stacks but always be aware of which players know what they’re doing. Observation is key. It’s sometimes best to set these players all-in rather than simply raising. This is especially true if a shorty is in the blinds and you’re in late position. They’re less likely to call off their stack than they are three-betting all-in over your raise. You’ll find you’re often priced in to call if they three-bet shove on you, or at least be given a tempting price. The problem lies in that you have to have the best hand this way as the hand will go to showdown. Jamming on them first means you give them the chance to fold.

Don’t Forget To Play Solid Poker

It’s extremely easy to get overconfident when you have a big stack. You feel like you’re unstoppable and start taking unnecessary risk. You can afford to lose some pots, sure, but entering pots you have no right to be in results in your big stack being cut down.

Being a big stack gives you more freedom to play looser and accumulate even more chips. You still need to play solid poker to do this. Seven-deuce offsuit is still a horrific holding. Raising someone all-in on a stone-cold bluff is still rarely a good play. Keep your eye on the ball, play solid poker, enjoy yourself, and keep on building your stack.

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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