You’ve been in the lead for the last couple of hours in a MTT. You are down to the final 18 players. All of a sudden you find yourself sliding perilously down the leader board. How has this happened?
It is hard to play a big stack well in big tournaments. When you are short-stacked, it’s simple; all-in or fold. With a big stack you must adapt to many different situations and outcomes.
The first thing to remember is that your stack is never safe in NLHE. You are always susceptible to a bad beat or coming up against a monster hand. The main decision you must work out is whether you should play aggressively and try to run over the table, or to sit back, watch other players knock each other out and narrow your range.
When the tournament gets down to the bubble (the final place which will not get paid), a big stack can dominate the table.
Let’s investigate the latter strategy. If you tighten up you risk losing the momentum which got you the chip lead in the first place. You also lose the ability to use your chip stack as a tool against your opposition. Selective aggression is the other way to go about playing a big stack.
When the tournament gets down to the bubble (the final place which will not get paid), a big stack can dominate the table. Players tighten up and fold everything but the nuts when the tournament gets to the bubble, so make the most of the chips on offer.
Common sense denotes that you should try to avoid getting into pots with other big stacks unless you have AA or KK because the risk outweighs the reward.
Remember; it’s great being chip leader. The alternative – being short stacked – is much worse. Enjoy the superior position and make it work for you.
Play to your strengths and don’t bow down to the pressure of shutting shop and trying to sit on your chips because it won’t work. As chip leader you’ll have nowhere to hide, and everyone will be gunning for you, so it is important to maintain focus and keep on top of your game.