Making final-two-table adjustments


Michael Laake poker strategy

When entering a multitable tournament, the obvious objective is to win. Making sure you give yourself some opportunity to win the tournament is important.

When the tournament combines to the final two tables, usually with 18 players left, this is another moment where we need to understand there are many in-game adjustments that should be considered.

Understanding the exact payout structure is pivotal for making minor adjustments to your decision-making process.

Often times, from 10th-18th, there are only three levels of payouts over these nine places (16th-18th usually pays the same, 13th-15th usually pays the same and 10th-12th usually pays the same). With 19 players remaining, you went from three tables to two and now the trophy is that much closer.

If you want to consider your aggression level in terms of a scaled measure, my immediate adjustment to make is that when are we are 18, 15 and 12 remaining players, I’m going to be much more willing to be aggressive and take chances, significantly more than I am willing to be with 16, 13 or 10 players remaining because of the opportunity for the future pay jump.

This is usually the first time I start really caring about average stack, where it’s going to be important to estimate how much chip average will be at the final table and being willing to put yourself in a position to win.

Easier said than done, but one of the ways to do this is to have a solid push-fold range.

If you’re in the lower half of chips, you should be more motivated to try to maximize your fold equity and attack opportunities.

If you have an above-average stack, I advise playing tighter and being more selective, because there is a better chance you’re going to advance to future strategy-adjusting situations. Such situations that come to mind happen heads-up, three, six, nine, 18 and 27 left of a major event.

If the advice to play tighter with a larger stack is counterintuitive, I understand. I believe survival is still most important. One of the types of luck that is most important to allow is the type of luck where you have a fist-pump preflop opportunity. Having chips and not forcing the action in marginal spots increases the chances of the short stacks running into A-A or various versions of the same story. In every hand, you and opponents are dealt some part of your range. Waiting for spots where your hand value exceeds the perceived value, is how you can give players a bad-beat story for the ride home.

— Michael Laake is a Florida dealer and tournament grinder since 2005. Email him at

Chris Cosenza

Chris Cosenza