Starting your final table in a poker tournament

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Over the previous months, I discussed a lot of the ways I approach tournaments and how to help get you to the final table. Now that we are here, let’s not squander away this opportunity.

In 2007, I had a coach named Alex Wice. He taught me a lot about the micro edges that can be found in turbo online tournaments. One of the principles he instilled in me is once you’ve made it to the final table, every pay jump matters. This means a lot of things to people. He described this theory as onus and my best Googling led me to a definition of “a responsibility or obligation.’

In poker terms, that means, the burden of proof would belong to the short stack at the final table. The best way to visualize this in real time is to think of the differences you might make in a satellite tournament if your flat payout awards six seats and you are down to seven players. The short stack knows that it’s everyone against him; his back is against the wall and he needs to come out swinging.

When you’re the short stack with seven or more players at a final table, you should expect others to be circling the water waiting for you to get eaten by a larger creature. So, hopefully, you’re able to take this advice and combine it with your other experiences to hopefully not end up as the short stack all that often.

When you’re not the short stack, I recommend playing straightforward and ABC once the final table has begun, particularly if you’ve been exploiting short-handed play heading to the final table. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a player donate a bunch of chips to me at the final table because of a “cooler,” when in reality he probably massively misjudged how tight my range was because we were in a much different scenario than we were at any point of the tournament.

When the onus is on you, you have to be willing to put yourself in a situation to change those circumstances. One unique perspective I think I could bring would be to consider what the landscape of the tournament would look like if you played a big pot with your opponent.

If you’re in last place, sometimes it’s worthwhile to take a closer spot against a player that is shorter in chips than someone who’s flush with chips. Sweeping someone else’s legs out from underneath them, while doubling yourself up, could be a two-fold upswing that will reward those who consider it. – Michael Laake

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