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Deep Stack Tournaments

By Kieran Walsh 'Flipper', 29/08/2007

What is the best way to prepare for and get through a big NLH tourney? Here are my thoughts:

I think it's vital to be physically ready for the event. The day before the event, I try to eat and drink nothing but fruit and loads of water. I know it sounds gay but a quick detox does wonders for your concentration and stamina. Try to eat well on the day and stay away from sugar as it just gives you highs and lows. Stick to bananas or something!

DO NOT arrive too early as hanging around observing all the bustle will probably only make you nervous. Try to stay away from the beer during play and if you make it to day 2, don't have more than 1 or 2 at the end of play on day 1. It'll help you sleep. I made this mistake in Singapore: With 80 left, myself, halibut and Marty Smyth were amongst the chip leaders. We decided to go for a couple of beers and ended up drinking until 4 hours before the commencement of day 2. Not a bright idea and WAS the reason I was eliminated in 35th. (Not concentrating and never saw a EP raise before I announced raise with trash.) Hali and Marty suffered similar experiences. One of my biggest ever mistakes.

I think the biggest mistake I see being made is inexperienced players failing to adjust to the rising blind levels. I remember last year that 40+ players fell during the first ante level!

In the early stages (25/50 to 50/100), pay close attention to the hands as they play out and try to put each player on a hand. Watch out for overplayed AA & KK and also to the players that tend to check/call (most nitty players have a habit of doing this). Mentally separate the players into groups and try to focus in on the players willing to pay your nut hands off. As a result, playing suited connectors and all pairs (for set value) against these nits is very +EV. The bigger the fields, the bigger the percentage of weak players so pay close attention! Finally, I like to massively over bet my made hands as ALL amateur players seem to be allergic to folding (I think that psychologically they feel that they are being bullied and want to stand up to you).

Around the 200/400 level, I like to start getting creative by raising and re-raising pretty frequently. The positive results of this a two-fold: 1: obviously, you will build your stack through aggression and without showing down many hands and 2: your table image with be altered as your pre-flop raise percentage rises. It's most important at this point that you look objectively at what type of player your opponents are perceiving you to be. Use this "read" and play you hands accordingly.

Remember, tournaments aren't about survival, they are about chip accumulation!

From there on in, fortune almost always favours the aggressive so play your best TAG game and always trust your instincts. If you start second guessing yourself, you won't be playing your optimum game. At this stage, I think it's imperative that you avoid all-in pre-flop situations without goods. You didn't bust your ass for 8 hours to toss a coin for the lot. Around bubbletime, keep telling yourself that there is only one prize: 1st place. Separate yourself from thoughts of getting a pitiful €4k and destroy all the people that are thinking just that. Playing to win can be explosive but if you do break into the money, you'll have the chips and the momentum to carry you really deep.

In conclusion, tourneys are easy. Stay out of marginal situations and trust your instincts. Be aggressive and always get your chips in first! 

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