The dream of many a poker player is to be playing in a multi-table tournament (MTT) with a big stack of chips directly in front of them. Being able to accumulate a large stack will allow you to play the game differently than if you happen to have a small stack. However, some players who do manage to amass a pile of chips often make some basic errors and find their huge stack dwindling. So what are the fundamentals to a solid big stack poker strategy?
A large stack in MTT competition is determined by looking at two factors. First of all, the size of both the blinds and antes, as a big stack is roughly 50 times the big blind in the middle of the tournament and 30 or more big blinds late in the game. Second, your stack needs to be larger than most of the stacks of your opponents at the table.
When holding a large stack, you are really able to play some poker. You can and should play aggressively and take more chances than you normally would with less chips. Tightening up your game and waiting for only premium hands is not recommended. That would most likely make your big stack become an average stack in due course. A large stack gives you the ability to attack and bully some of the smaller stacks at the table. It is not a license to run loose, wild and reckless. However, aggression in the appropriate situations is certainly a must.
Some basic strategic principles to keep in mind while big-stacked include raising, and doing so as often as possible. You should keep putting pressure on your opponents, especially when no one has acted before you and you are in a late position. Your table rivals know that you can end their tournament and may be reluctant to play against you and fight back. If you do run into resistance holding a not so playable hand, you can always fold. But you are much more likely to increase your stack through solid aggression in favorable positions with less than spectacular cards as opposed to playing tight and folding and not attempting to raise.
As the big stack, you are a huge threat to the smaller stacks seated at the table. You can bully the small and even some of the medium stacks. The real small stacks are playing in a mode of desperation. They have the option of folding or shoving all their chips in. Your job is to put them to the test by making them go all-in or call their desperation bets. Your decision on whether to call their all-in bets is dependent upon the odds you are getting and the relative stack sizes of yourself and your opponent.
Your main focus is on attacking the small and sometimes medium stacks and you should tend to avoid going up against other large stacks in big pots. If an opponent can take away over half of your chip stack, you would be best advised to keep bets and raises against such an opponent much smaller than if you were facing a small or medium stack. Use your strength at the table versus players who don’t have the same strength. Unless you’re holding the absolute nuts, dueling with another big stack in a hand that you are not reasonably certain of winning can spell disaster.
There is no better time in a tournament for a big-stacked player to accumulate chips than when approaching the bubble. Many players, especially the medium-stacked variety, will tighten up their game to such a considerable degree in order to finish in-the-money that it becomes easy pickings for a big-stacked player to steal blinds and pots against the timid players. It is fairly obvious to tell–especially online–the players who have shut down their game in hopes of turning a profit. You should definitely take advantage of the situation by raising more than usual. Keep in mind that a small-stacked player who raises in front of you on the bubble is likely holding a strong hand.
Having a big stack in a MTT requires a one-dimensional mindset – to accumulate an even bigger stack. This is best accomplished with aggressive play in the right positions and with a focus on the smaller stacks. Being large-stacked allows you to take chances with hands that you typically would not play in smaller-stacked situations. Take those chances and bully the players with small stacks at the table. The best big stack poker strategy tip we can give you is to keep the pressure on your table rivals and take control of the game. Your playing style should be much looser until deeper in the tournament when you can tighten up against players with stacks that may be equivalent to your own