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Abusing The Chip Lead in Multi-Table Tournament Poker

Being the chip leader in a big multi-table tournament is a wonderful thing if you know how to play your massive pile of chips correctly, and ultimately win the entire tournament.

In tournament poker, my only goal is to win the entire tournament. Even though the second place prize money is right up there with first, I still get disappointed if I can’t seal the deal. Even with the nice bankroll boost, second place just isn’t as fun as winning the entire tournament. By the time all is said and done, I want to have every single chip in play, everything else is secondary. Plan A is to win the entire tournament. I don’t have a plan B because it distracts from Plan A.

jason mercier chip lead

Jason Mercier knows a thing or two about how to play the big stack.

In order to win the entire tournament, you are eventually going to have to have all the chips. How you go about accumulating every chip in play can vary based on your stack size, level of the tournament, your opponents at the table, and the cards you are dealt, along with a variety of other meta-game factors that can get quite complicated to explain.

Winning the entire tournament is done a lot easier when you enter the final table with one of the top 3 stacks. Having the chip lead is a luxury because you are never all-in for your tournament life, but you have the ability to put another opponent for a decision for all of his chips without risking your entire stack. When I have the chip lead in the later stages of a tournament, I am open raising almost every single hand. A majority of the time, everyone will fold and I get to steal the blinds and antes, which become increasingly larger as the tournament progresses. When I finally do get action and get re-raised, all the small pots I won will make up for the chips I have to fold away. Subsequently, I am also eligible to be played back at when I am sitting with a monster hand, and I can knock out another opponent.

Being the table captain/maniac/chip leader makes me almost impossible to play against. My hand range consists of 27 off suit all the way up to AA, it will be hard for any one to pin me on a specific hand because I am raising every single hand. This nets me more profit on my monster hands, a luxury other smaller stacks don’t have. A lot of players play extremely tight during the later stages of a tournament for fear of losing. I am willing to take some big gambles sometimes to earn the chip lead, a position that usually results in me winning the entire tournament, or at least finishing in the top 3.

Jonathan Duhamel 2010 WSOP Main Event Champion

Jonathan Duhamel 2010 WSOP Main Event Champion

There is no “correct” way to play each hand as the chip leader, but I choose aggressive lines over passive ones to constantly put pressure on my opponents. I want my opponents to know that if they get involved in a hand with me, it will most likely be for their entire tournament life. I have no problem putting people to the test with a sub-par hand when I know they will most likely fold in certain spots. Even if I do get called, I will have equity to still get lucky and win the hand. Timely aggression is essential if you want to be a long-term winner in multi-table tournament poker.

Watching and observing how other players play the tournament chip lead is sickening sometimes. I have even seen players sit-out until the final table starts in order to preserve their stack. I think that is one of the biggest mistakes YOU CAN EVER MAKE in tournament poker, especially if your goal is to be profitable in the long-run. Having the chip lead puts you at a MASSIVE advantage against all the remaining opponents. It is ESSENTIAL to use your chips as weapons to extract more chips from the table. As I said before, you are eventually going to need EVERY CHIP IN PLAY to win the tournament. In order to do this, you have to slowly grind away every opponent’s stack while they fight for survival. When all is said and done, if you execute the game plan correctly, you will become a long-term winner.

Don’t let your next chip lead go to waste.

Take it down! 🙂

Follow my MTT progress @ http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/timdef2000/

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