January 2, 2012 5 Comments
“Leveling” is a term coined by many poker players as a process of outsmarting an opponent through deductive reasoning and logic.
You try to determine where your opponent stands in a current hand, their current mind state, what they think about your holdings and how much you think this tournament and more importantly the money truly means to them.
All of these are factors if you want to exploit your opponents with aggressive moves deep in big tournaments.
As tournaments get deeper, the prizes get larger and many players start focusing on the different pay jumps at different levels.
I am only concerned about winning the tournament, and I will make moves that look super stupid to the average player, but I have to take calculated risks if I want to succeed long-term as a player.
I am willing to lose 20 straight tournaments to book a win in the 21st because the prize for the 21st will completely outweigh the buy-ins I spent on the other 20.
Because of the increasing blind levels in comparison to chip stack sizes, you have to attack pots and add to your stack or you will blinded out and have to rely on luck to stay alive. For this reason, I like to turn up the aggression as the final table approaches.
In order to effectively exploit opponents and “level” them, you need to develop a good read. You need to focus on how players act when you are in a hand, and while you are not in a hand. If you focus on anything except what is going on at the table, you lose the chance to pick up valuable information and tells.
Little details count, even how an opponent stacks his chips can help you determine what type of player they are. You have to size up your opponents if you want to make big moves to take down big important pots in the late stages of tournament play.
As I have talked about before in my previous articles, putting your opponent at a decision for every chip in front of them is the strongest move in tournament poker. Many players are afraid to bust their tournament life, and they are less likely to gamble. Finding these opponents and exploiting their passiveness can net you some easy chips to add to your stack.
There are times where I will shove all in with any two cards if I determine the remaining opponent or opponents in the pot to be weak and passive. 95% of the time they will fold unless they have AA,AK,KK,QQ,JJ and sometimes 10,10. Many players are afraid to even gamble with hands such as 99,88 and lower pocket pairs for their tournament life in spots where I will snap call with these holdings against another opponents all-in shove. Even against AA, my hand is never dead and there have been times where I shove J6o and crack aces by hitting two pair or a set.
No hand is ever 100% pre-flop, so you always have a chance to win. You never are getting your money in dead preflop.
You can also exploit solid aggressive opponents as well.
Many good tournament players will open any two cards in late position hoping to take down the blinds and antes and add to their stack. If I am sitting behind them and I know them to be doing this, I will re-shove all-in over their initial raise. Deep in tournaments, you are usually sitting with 10-25 big blinds which is the perfect stack size to make this aggressive move. Your opponents will be forced to fold their mediocre holdings and you pick up their initial raise along with the blinds and antes barring an opponent behind you waking up with a big hand which wont happen as often as you think.
Picking good spots to take calculated risks to add to your stack is absolutely essential if you want to win big tournaments. You simply cannot sit back and wait for aces if you want to win. You might min cash with this strategy, but who cares? If you spend $100 on a tournament to just win $250 for a min cash you are leaving a lot of value on the table. You should be shooting for the first prize which could be in the $10,000s.
One big tournament win can change your life financially.
Why would you settle for less than first place?