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The Best Deepstack Poker Tournaments | How to Win at Poker

The best thing about Deepstack Poker Tournaments is that the higher skilled post-flop player is going to have an advantage. If you’re good at playing street-by-street (i.e. flop, turn, river) vs. your opponent(s), then these are the kind of Texas Hold’em poker tournaments you want to play in.

We’ll start with a brief description of deepstack poker, then we’ll dive into some poker strategy. But before we do all that, I want you to know that the advice you’re about to receive is from someone with experience. I haven’t conquered the poker world or anything like that, but my results are solid and I seem to be respected at the table.

Prior to writing this article, I didn’t realize how many deepstack poker cashes I had. Below is a list beginning from longest ago and ending with most recent. An important note here is that not all of poker tournaments below are titled as Deepstack; I have included any tournament where it plays as a deepstack.

  • Deepstack 28th for $279
  • Monster Stack 50th for $1,262
  • Deepstack Turbo 12th for $595
  • Deepstack 81st for $472
  • Double Stack 13th for $2,045
  • Cherokee Main Event 28th for $8,571
  • Deepstack 2nd for $2,955
  • Monster Stack 4th for $2,219
  • Deepstack 1st for $3,000
  • Deepstack 2nd for $1,641
  • Double Stack 12th for $1,252

Once again, these aren’t world-beater results in regards to deepstacks, but I hope they at least show that I have an idea how to win in deepstack poker tourneys (especially recently).

What Is A Deepstack Tournament?

A deepstack poker tournament means that you’re getting more chips than usual. For example, let’s say you usually start with 15,000 chips for $400 events on the WSOP Circuit (this is usually the case). If it’s a deepstack tournament, then you’re likely going to be starting with somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 chips.

If it’s only a 5k bump from the 15,000, then it’s likely to be a lower buy-in event. When you’re getting 30,000 chips, then the cost to get in will usually be higher. The number of chips you get at the beginning of the tournament is often correlated to how much you pay for the buy-in. However, this isn’t always the case.

Value Deepstack Poker

There are some poker tournaments and poker tournament series that will maintain the same price for a deepstack tournament. In these cases, whoever is running the tournament is relying on volume instead of higher buy-ins for profit. And, yes, it’s important to look at poker from the angle of those running the games. If there is one constant competitor, it’s the house. Some poker tournament series have been raising their fees for more profit while others have noticed this and lowered their fees in order to steal market share.

Poker Tournament Series Competition

In my opinion, this is a brilliant move by the latter group. It’s also a big reason why I won’t be playing as much on the WSOP Circuit this season and instead shifting to the best opportunities available. It wouldn’t make much sense to stick with the Circuit because it’s already high buy-ins and some of the toughest competition in the world. If you add increased fees (rake), you’re fighting an uphill battle.

Poker players continue playing because of the huge payouts and to win a ring (status). The ring isn’t even real gold! They’re using those rings to lure you in. Get wise and listen to the following advice, which I recently took from someone else (from a couple). When I asked them if they played on the Circuit, the female replied, “No, we just look for the best opportunities.”

Sneaky Ego Strikes Back

I have no idea why it took me so long to understand this concept. Perhaps I was subconsciously allowing my ego to take control by chasing points and rings. When ego is in control, you lose. Your ego is your biggest enemy at the poker table, hands down. Your ego is also sneaky because it can impact your poker game even when you’re not playing.

On the other hand, I’m glad I realized this at this time, which is one week prior to the $400 WSOP Circuit Monster Stack (one of three ring events I plan on playing but this is subject to change) and the $185 RunGood Tunica Deepstack in two weeks.

Of course, the WSOP Circuit event is going to have a much bigger payout, but that’s greed creeping in. If Ego is your biggest enemy, then greed is its sidekick.

When I looked back at my results for Texas Hold’em poker tournaments over the past year, I realized that the majority of my wins came from grinding, not huge scores. Therefore, it’s the medium-sized tournaments that offer the best value. The reason for that is because you’re up against softer fields. Not only that, unless you’re a millionaire, you’re going to play your best poker when the buy-ins are lower. Why? Because you won’t be afraid to lose. There is an old saying in poker games: “If you want to live, you can’t be afraid to die.”

There is another reason it’s a good thing ego stealthily attacked and heard someone tell me they just looked for the best opportunities. That reason is this article.

I just spent a decent amount of time on ego, and that is extremely relevant to deepstack poker. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. When you’re confident, you win. When you’re arrogant, you don’t. Simple stuff. This relates to deepstack poker.

How To Play Deepstack Poker Tournaments

If a tournament series posts their Deepstack, Monster Stack, or Double Stack, you might get excited. Most people want to play poker with more chips because it means they can play more poker hands. It allows for maneuverability. First make sure that the blind levels are 25 or 30 minutes. Sometimes a tourney series will announce their Deepstack poker tournament and they will set the blinds for 15 or 20 minutes. This is not a true deepstack poker tournament, it’s a deepstack turbo poker tournament.

Assuming everything is as we expect it to be and it’s a true deepstack poker event, there is a way to play it, and it’s a very big reason I have a decent amount of cashes in these events. The first step is to chill the heck out! I know that sounds harsh, but if you’re going to buy-in early, then just sit back and Nit it up for a while. I’m not saying that you should play like a Nit and play three hands over the course of six hours. That would be a terrible poker strategy.

The reason I’m telling you to Nit it up early is so you can evaluate who is who at your table and use that information to your advantage. After about 1-2 hours, you should know exactly how everyone plays. This is when you change gears, but only for some of your opponents.

Against the great players, you want to keep your range tight. DO NOT let ego get in the way. This is not who we want to get our chips from. I understand you’re competitive, but I also understand that winning is the goal. If you were to go against great poker players in every poker tournament, that would be –EV (negative expected value).

Against what I call medium players (most poker players), you want to use deception. Sell passiveness so they come after you more often when you’re holding strength, then apply pressure. Medium players have not mastered ego and will call most of the time. They don’t want to be embarrassed by being outplayed. When they call and lose, they will go on tilt. In their minds, they deserve to win. You took away what the supposedly deserved, which has made them angry. Poor things.

The biggest advantage will be against the passive players. These players have watched you as much as you have watched them, and they think you’re one of them, which is based on your actions. What they don’t realize is that it was all a show. This is where we attack.

Every single time you are up against 1-2 passive opponents, you must apply pressure. If you get called pre-flop, always fire a c-bet. Don’t worry about them setting a trap. There is an easy solution to that. If they raise or call, slow down. Even if this fails three consecutive times, you must continue to apply pressure against these players. If you continue to do this, you will accumulate a lot of easy chips.

These won’t be big pots because your opponents will be quick to fold, but when you’re raising pre-flop from the hijack, cutoff, button, and blinds every time you sense weakness, those chips add up fast. Do you realize what that means?

No All-In Worries

When you reach the higher blind levels and you’re around the dinner break, you’re going to have more chips than most people in the tournament. If someone you know comes by and notices this, they will likely say something like, “You’ve got chips again?! That’s got to be against the poker rules.”

Remain modest and laugh it off. Tell them you’ve been getting lucky. The player who brags is always headed for a downfall because they’re unknowingly putting undue pressure on themselves. The modest player sells no expectations to his friends, family, or other poker players, which keeps the pressure off.

Back to chip stacks, if you have 110,000 when the average stack is 65,000, you’re looking good. After the dinner break, most of the short stacks will be attempting to double up. Many of them don’t want to waste more hours sitting around waiting for a hand. They either want to double up or go play something else. By having applied pressure against all passive players earlier and accumulating chips, you’re now in the driver’s seat. If you have a good yet not great hand, such as AT, and some shoves on you for 10k with no one behind you, it’s a snap-call.

By the way, there is an underlying deepstack poker strategy in the paragraph above. Those players that are shoving light because they either want to double up or play something else are giving up. Never give up. You can take it down to 5 BB before you need to panic, not 10 BB as everyone seems to believe.

I have failed with 5 BB, but I have also succeeded many times. If the Big Blind is 1,000, this is still 5,000 chips. You’re only getting called by true strength. This isn’t a level where someone is forced to call you. Being patient until you get down to that level is more profitable than shoving with something like Q7 when you’re down to 10 BB. I have lived this many times, which is more valuable than someone writing something, you reading it, and applying it because you read it. Take it from someone who has been in this situation often.

ITM Deepstack Poker Tourney Strategy

When you’re in the money (ITM), you must completely switch your approach. Do not play the poker strategy mentioned above, which is best suited for earlier in poker games. When you’re in the money, you want to play position poker. That’s it! Don’t try anything fancy. I know that for an absolute fact. I have been in this situation so many times that I have picked up on something that never fails.

It doesn’t matter how skilled a poker player is, what their reputation is, or how well they have been playing all day. At least half of these players—most of them good/great players—will blow up. It happens every single time! You just never know who it will be.

I think this happens because poker players are human beings and get impatient. Either they panic, they don’t believe they deserve to be where they are, or they’re anxious to win the whole thing (even though there are 50 players left). Whatever the reason is, when you’re at this level in deepstack poker tourneys, I guarantee you that someone will blow up. This is where luck plays a role.

To put it simply: Will you be the one to benefit from that person blowing up? The answer is usually no, but sometimes it’s yes. When the answer is yes, you’re chip stack has the potential to go from the garden to the moon. And it’s always easier to evaluate a poker table from the moon.

Do you see the point? Forget what everyone else says about attacking at this level in the tournament. That is completely wrong. If you attack, you’re going to put yourself in vulnerable situations. There is no reason to attack if you know your opponents will be attacking you with malfunctioning weaponry. Wait there with your bazooka. You will be fine.

If you’re wondering about the final table, most poker players focus more at the final table, but one or two will always get impatient about halfway through. They’re likely thinking to themselves: I’ve come this far, which is good enough. If I get lucky here, great. If not, I’m happy with the cash. Yes … people even give up at the final table!

deepstack poker - final table

When it comes to deepstack poker tourneys and being in the money, relax, unwind, and allow your opponents to come to you.

Final Thoughts

If you’re going to play in a deepstack poker tourney, you can’t put poker strategy on auto. The way to play your poker hands depends on your opponents and the stage of the tournament. The point of waiting for others to blow up might not seem like typical poker rules for winning, but would you rather base your play on recycled information or reality? That’s a decision you will need to make for yourself. See you at the WSOP!

♠ pokerjournal.org

Deepstack Poker – FAQs

Q: What is deepstack poker?

A: This means you’re playing with a lot of chips. It allows you to play a tighter and more patient game.

Q: How many big blinds should you have in a tournament?

A: You should usually begin with around 100 BBs. In a turbo, you might start with 50 BBs. In a deepstack/monster stack tournament, you might start with 200 BBs.

Q: How do you play deepstack poker?

A: Very patiently. There will not be much pre-flop shoving in this type of poker tournament. In these situations, you might want to say to yourself: “May the most patient player win”. Make sure you’re that player.

Q: How much can you win playing deepstack poker?

A: A Monster stack poker tournament on the WSOP Circuit will usually pay more than $80,000 for 1st place. It’s $400 to enter.

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