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Poker School Online presents, Pro Tips... with TJ Cloutier.
When the Last Two Tables Combine
by TJ Cloutier
At last the two final five-handed tables are being combined into one table of 10 players. Of course only nine players will make the "official" final table. You have the shortest stack and feel as though you're about to bubble. What do you do?
When the tournament gets down to 10-handed play, you not only redraw for new seat assignments, you redraw for the button. Being in tenth chip position with the shortest stack doesnít necessarily mean that you have a super short stack. You could be in one of those tournaments where everybody is fairly equal in chips. If that's the situation, then just play a good, solid game of poker. Let the cards fall, and try to outlast people.
You don't want to bubble, of course, but still you're in a lot better circumstance than you were in when 11 players were left. Depending on how many chips are in play, you can have the shortest stack on the table and still not be in really bad shape. Now you only have to post the big blind every 10 hands rather than once every five or six hands.
But suppose you get unlucky and draw the big blind when the tables combine. By now the antes and blinds are big, so if more than a half of your stack is in there for the big blind, you'll have to put a half of your remaining chips in the small blind. In this case you'll just have to play the first hand you're dealt. If you get some action and are lucky enough to win the hand, you'll have some chips. But if you wait until the small blind, even if you win the hand, you still won't have any more chips than you had in the first hand. This is why you have to make sure you play that first hand if more than half your money is already in the pot. Even if all you have is 7-2, get lucky with it! It happens, you know.
Now let's say that the big blind is one-fourth or less of your stack. In that case, you are not forced to play the hand. Don't rush. You have an entire round of the table to play and you might pick up a hand before you have to post the blinds again. When the big blind is one-fourth of your stack, the small blind is one-eighth of your stack. You will be putting in three-eights of your stack in the blinds, which means that you will have five-eights of your stack left in front of you. If you can double up, you will have more chips than you started with. When you double up, you not only win the blinds, you win the antes as well. When it's 10-handed in a big buy-in tournament, the antes are about $1K and the blinds are around $5K-$10K.
To recap, suppose you have $24K in chips and have to put up a $1K ante and a $10K big blind. In the next hand, you have to pay the $1K ante and the $5K small blind. Now you're talking about $16K out of your starting $24K. In this case, you're forced to play your hand in the big blind.
In a better scenario, let's say that you start 10-handed play with $44K. You put up $11K and then $6K, making $17K in antes and blinds, leaving you with $27K. If you just pick up the blinds in the next hand, you will get 10 times $1K (the antes) making $10K, plus the $15K in blinds. You now have $25K plus the $27K you had left after posting the blinds. Your total is $52K, which is more than you started with. In this situation, you are not forced to play early on. That is, when you have at least four times the big blind plus the antes, the math tells you that you don't have to play your hand in the big blind the first time around.
When you get action, it often will be from players who aren't in the blinds, so that you can pick up both the money you win from your opponents, and the blinds and the antes. If you win the $25K in blinds and antes, plus you double up your chips, all of a sudden, you've gone from $27K to around $75K. Now you're back in the game by using the mathematics to guide how you play, and not getting in a big hurry. If you lose the hand and get knocked out, so be it. You played proper tournament strategy.
You always have to be "tournament smart," especially when you have a short stack. If you win two pots in a round, the money you win actually amounts to more than winning twice. Now you have chips. Now you can play your game. Every chip you win, somebody else loses, which changes your ratio. What you're hoping is that your ratio continues to change in your favor until there's only one player left: You!
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Come get in the action this Saturday with another round of sponsorship point buy-in events this weekend in the PSO Card Room:
Finish in the top spots in these tournaments and build your SP Bankroll to get sponsored into the live event of your choice!
Qualifiers for the Championship Satellite Main Event, won't want to forget that the main event is this Sunday at noon CST! The event is now open for sign ups, so be sure to secure your seat!
See you at the Tables!
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