by: Glenn McDonald.
Okay, time for a dictionary break. Strategy and tactics are two different terms that are often confused with each other, or wrongly used interchangeably. Strategy is a long term plan of action intended to accomplish a specific goal. Tactics are the expedients and maneuvers for achieving that goal. Now that we've sorted quite a few of the strategic issues; let's run down some of the tournament tactics.
We must dutifully repeat that these tactics are dependent on game situations and are not hard-and-fast rules.
Calling short stacks If a short stack raises a pot, you can usually safely call, because short-stacked players are often forced to play marginal hands. If it makes sense to raise and put that player all in, by all means do so.
Playing a short stack The flip side of that particular poker chip is playing a short stack. Your options are limited. If the next round of blinds is going to bust you, you'll want to go all in on anything halfway decent, such as an Ace-whatever off suit. Otherwise, you're going all in on the blinds with random cards.
Swimming upstream This general strategy becomes a specific tactic in an elimination tournament. Many players wager aggressively early on in a tournament. If you find that a lot of players at your table are shooting it out, tighten up and let the table thin out. If a game tightens up later, try to make some moves and get ahead of those escalating blinds.
Switching gears Another general guideline that becomes practical at the tournament table, switching gears means making a deliberate shift from tight to loose play, or vice versa. It's related to the idea of swimming upstream, except that you take the initiative to switch up your style of play. If, in the early stages of a tourney, you have projected a table image of an extremely tight player (whether by choice or circumstance), an abrupt shift to aggressive play can be effective. If the cards make it at all reasonable, keep on firing; in other words, be selective, and then be very aggressive.
Riding a big stack The temptation when playing a big stack early in a tournament is to jump into a lot of pots and start’ splashing around. Consider going the other way, especially if you took down a really big pot in the first few hands. In low-stakes, no limit single table games, you'd be amazed at how easy it is to sit back and watch other players fall off. By playing very selectively, you can make the occasional surgical strike from behind your fortress of chips.
(© 2006 Deal Me In! Online Cardrooms, Big Time Tournaments, and The New Poker Book. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)
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