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How to Close Out Your Tournament

Evan Jarvis

categories Tournaments

You've made it to the bitter end and now it’s time to employ the best tournament strategy to close this sucker out with a sweet, cushy bankroll. Sounds nice, right? It is! We’re going to give you a rundown of our tournament strategy for the close-out that’ll help you move through the final stages of play with power and prowess.

evan-jarvis-at-poker-table

Closing Mode Tournament Strategy

The key to successfully closing out your tournament lies in staying in control of the action - as much as possible at least. Part of this highly specific tournament strategy will involve taking profitable gambles for small portions of your stack, without taking big risks that will diminish your flexibility and leverage.

So, how exactly do you do this? When it comes to close-out strategy, there is no one way to win. Rather, you have to adopt multiple approaches and learn how to use them to act and interact with and against your opponents.

Here’s what you need to do:

Strategy # 1

Evaluate. Always evaluate before taking a gamble. Consider your odds of closing the tourney out if you pass up on a spot; ask yourself how much those odds will increase if you go for it and win. How much will they decrease if you lose? If you stand to gain more, go for it. If you’re going to be much worse off then pass it over. It's critical to be able to identify where and when to not gamble at this stage of the tournament since the impact of each decision is magnified when you actually have a decent shot of winning. For example, the odds of winning a tournament with 2000 people left (even if you are in 1st place) vs. the odds of winning with 20 left (even if you are in 15-17th place) are very different – and these differences must be accounted for before you act.

You are likewise going to want to evaluate your odds when someone shoves into your blinds or shoves on your open. What are your chances of winning against their range?  

Strategy #2

Thieve and Police. Steal from the weak, police the thieves, but be aware of your image and be aware of who is getting fed up and ready to adjust. You want to be taking a few pots per orbit if you can get away with it, but your tournament strategy should not be to become the guy that everyone wants to go after, unless of course you play a 'if you're not first, your last’ Ricky Bobby approach and are looking to engage in confrontation even against the biggest remaining stacks. This methodology can have its upside because if you're 1st and take out 2nd place, you now have a runaway chip lead. Opponents may just sit back and let you steal and bust out other players so that they can move up the payout structure. It’s not such an awful position to be in; being the only one playing for first while everyone else is playing for second. However, whether or not to adopt this tournament strategy really depends on the payout structure and the type of players remaining in the field. It depends on how significant the money is to them and how much they care about moving up.

Word to the wise: be careful about attacking the smallest stacks. If a player is in last or near last at this stage, they may feel it’s unlikely they’ll make the final table and thereby implement a nothing-to-lose approach. If you think someone is ready to take their chances and take a stand, that's when you actually need a decent holding.

Strategy #3

Go big. Your goal, if possible, is to make it to the final table with a big stack. This tournament strategy is the single greatest opportunity to put yourself in a position to win. Here’s why:

a) you’re playing shorthanded, so there are more opportunities to play pots and outplay opponents.

b) the final table is close, pay jumps are looming, people want to make it and many will be much more intent on moving up than risk elimination so close to their goal.

c) the bigger someone's stack, the better their position in the field, the less likely they will want to bust, so leverage your stack and apply pressure to the players you can bust but can't bust you; put their tournament life on the line and instill a bit of good old fashioned fear in them!

Remember that the goal of playing winning poker is to maximize your return on investment, and using solid tournament strategy for the close-out is your last chance to boost and solidify your take away. You may not need to be first, (like in the case of flatter payout structures where getting a stack that can place you 3-5 will give you a solid payday too), but you always want to aim for the max.

Want to learn more about optimizing your tournament strategy from start to finish? Check out the Gripsed Multi-Table Tournament Strategy Guide and get a comprehensive look at how exactly to prep yourself for every step of the way, from pre-game to close-out.