chip leader problems

    • ShadowCrew
      Joined: 02.02.2010 Posts: 17
      Hi guys,

      This is probably going to sound a little strange but I'm having trouble with keeping hold of a massive chip stack.

      I only play MTT's.

      The last couple of nights I have being playing live at a venue near to me (dusk till dawn/Nottingham) and on both occassions I with 2 tables left (normally only the final table gets paid) I have been chip leader. Last night I even had 6x the average chip stack.

      Unfortunately on both occassions I managed to tank all of my chips before the final table.

      Any advice?

      ]Should I just lock down?

      How should I handle marginal hands against 10BB's and under pushes?
  • 4 replies
    • pzhon
      Joined: 17.06.2010 Posts: 1,151
      If you never lose a big chip lead, then you aren't playing well. When you have a large chip lead near the bubble, you are much less risk-averse than your opponents. While you can make odds calls they can't, even more powerful is to raise or resteal with a wide range when you know your opponents only want to call with the tops of their ranges. Occasionally, a parlay will occur and you will lose a few pots and bust out, but having the chip lead near the bubble lets you accumulate even more chips, setting you up to make the top 3 or to win the tournament, not just to sneak into the money.
    • CoachB
      Joined: 13.01.2011 Posts: 12
      I'm having the same issues Shadow!

      My approach to MTT's and I like to play live tournaments as well, is to be pretty tight during the early stages and not leak many chips on speculative hands until I find the right spot to take a shot at doubling up.

      I would rather go out early than limp into the middle of the MTT short stacked and having to worry about the blinds and antes to stay alive.

      To be in the hunt you usually need to double up 5 or 6 times, so generally I try to be in a spot that I can take shots against smaller stacks during the middle stages. If you lose a race here or there its no big deal, you have enough of a stack to push on.

      I'm with you the tough spot for me is when the final table is in sight, and players who have been tight start playing much looser ranges and shove rather than bet. eg A few weeks ago I ran into AA trying to pick off a guy who shoved 5 hands in a row!

      I have tried a number of different ways and still haven't nailled it. First I tried to just go to sleep and fold everything until the final table. Using this approach I went from chip leader to 6th by the time the final table came around and then kept getting pushed off winning hands waiting for other players to get knocked out to move up the cash ladder...Without incredible luck you can't win playing like this.

      I have also tried to be uber aggressive but mathematically you can only win so many races even if you are ahead at the start of all of them. Sooner or later someone will inflict a huge dent in your chips. Eg Yesterday I went from chip leader to out in 20 minutes and 3 hands! The villian who caused the damage had gone from 3 big blinds and the table short stack. I basically swapped places with him. Once was a straight up race 54/46 to me. Then I put him on top pair / high pockets and ran into a straight with my 2 pair.

      Finding the middle ground and being a TAG isn't easy during this dangerous period. You really need to pick your spots against players who are trying to just make it and avoiding the LAG's who will shove with > 50% of hands. This probably means folding a few winning hands.

      The other thing I want to talk about here is mindset.

      I find I need some self talk or mantra to stay focused and I also need a process for dealing with my decisions. Sometimes the momentum of the game picks up and I have gone tumbling down the chip count because I rushed in and missed something. Go through your decision rountine and avoid distractions. Eg in a live event recently I had three distractions in a row 1. Some table talk from a 'pro' giving it to me after coming from behind to win a big pot. 2. The casino made me buy all the 25 chips from all the other players on the table to chip up while play continued. 3.The player next to me kept talking about my stack and how the game was now a shove feast. All of these things distracted me from a routine and eventually lead to at least one poor decision that left me out near the bubble.

      Just a few thoughts.

    • ShadowCrew
      Joined: 02.02.2010 Posts: 17
      Hi CB,

      As far as the distractions go, I know it sounds simple but you just have to get over them and not let them bother you or get you off your game as that is what they are using the distractions for. What I like to do is to wear a pair of head phones at the table, I don't have any music playing in them but it sometimes makes it easy to hear my own thoughts over the sometimes mindless din of noise around you, it can also stop people from talking to you if they think that you can't hear them, usually this leads to them making more mistakes and you finding good spots to take people out and win pots.

      With then chip buying, this can happen a lot, it just speeds up the chip race at the end of the level, it also can break up the game a little for you, you know what they say - a change is as good as a rest.

      My approach to the game is pretty much the same as yours, for me the early stage in a tourney is all about information mining. Watching everyone in every pot as much as possible and finding those reads which will allow decision making to be easier, even to the point of sometimes making marginal decisions on the river just to see what cards your opponent is willing to play and in what way.

      Hi pzhon,

      Ty for your reassurance that although I probably got unlucky my general play was appropriate.

      I was chatting to a friend of mine who is a pro tourney player and writes a little for WPT magazine and he gave me this advice which I would like to share with you (unedited staright from skype transcript):

      think about S&G strategy
      [16:40:29] Darren Keyes: the concept is to wait until 3 players of 9 are out before getting aggressive
      [16:40:39] Darren Keyes: that way you almost always have a 50-50 shot of cashing
      [16:41:01] Darren Keyes: when you have a big stack with two tables left, you can employ the same strategy.
      [16:41:47] Darren Keyes: never call all-ins unless monstered, raise the medium stacks to keep healthy
      [16:41:52] Darren Keyes: three-bet from late position
      [16:41:58] Darren Keyes: but never call big bets
      [16:42:13] Darren Keyes: basically fold your way in picking up risk free equity along the way
      [16:42:21] Darren Keyes: thats how I play satellites
      [16:42:53] Darren Keyes: a lot of people forget that poker is, in fact, a game of chance
      [16:43:19] Darren Keyes: the skill element late is on how to optimize the chance element
      [16:43:59] Darren Keyes: late stage play is all luck - its all coin flips. If you are healthy you can sit back an wait until later to flip

      I like his sng tactics and think that is the way I will go.

      Thanks again

    • pzhon
      Joined: 17.06.2010 Posts: 1,151
      It is not clear what the context is, and I think a lot of that advice would be bad for SNGs or MTTs.

      "wait until 3 players of 9 are out before getting aggressive... that way you almost always have a 50-50 shot of cashing"

      No, they will have you outchipped so you aren't on even footing. The best players do not have close to a 50% ITM percentage in low stakes SNGs. In addition, you have sat back and watched as 1-3 bad players have busted out. It will be harder to get those chips now that they are controlled by better players.

      "never call all-ins unless monstered"

      No, you don't get monsters that often, and many of your opponents are not waiting for strong hands to push. When you are getting good odds or have a decent hand, calling all-in can be a great opportunity to acquire more chips.

      "basically fold your way in picking up risk free equity along the way"

      You can't expect to fold into the money. You are going to have to take risks sooner or later. Take good gambles when you see them, or you will be forced to take worse gambles later, or you won't have the chips to take advantage of later good opportunities. Amir Vahedi: "In order to live, you have to be willing to die."