Learning To Play The Final Table

by Perri Winkles

Poker players love to play large field multi table tournements (MTTs) these days. The way to make money in these is to have the occasional big result. One of the problem many players have is that when they finally reach a final table, they don’t know the right tactics. They are untrained in final table play.

One of the biggest differences when you play in the final table of an MTT is that the table will go down from 9 players, until 2 players are heads up. This is the only table of the MTT that plays down this way. Also, every time a player is eliminated, you make more money.

When you get to one of these final tables you want to be ready. The problem is that it’s hard to get to a final table. So, how can you get yourself ready when you finally do make a final table?

Take advantage of one of the most popular games played in the online poker rooms, the sit and go (SNG). These single table events start when the table fills up with players. You can play them all day. Okay, how do they help you with final table MTT play?

If you play the full table (9 or 10 players) SNG, it will simulate a final table very well. The only difference is that only 3 players get paid in the SNG. This works good enough becaause the top three make the big portion of the final table prize pool in the MTT.

The decision making process will be very similar for both SNGs and final tables. The biggest change from normal MTT play is that the number of players at the table keeps dropping as players are eliminatied. The SNG format is the same.

Mostly this involves changing your starting hand requirements, and playing the stacks, and getting a read on your opponents. These are the three most important factors affecting your decisions when the table is getting shorter. Let’s see why.

Playing a short table with big blinds generally requires playing more hands, but there can be reasons to be cautious anyway. If there is a short stack on the verge of elimination, you might need to wait for his elimination before playing. If you bet with a marginal hand with a medium stack, the big stacks will attack you, forcing you to fold.

If you get to the final table with a big stack, you can attack. You want to pressure the other players. Just be careful with the short stacks, they will be ready to gamble with you. It is easier to pick on the medium stacks.

If you have enough chips, you can push all in against a short stack when you have a decent hand. This is better than raising and then having to call there push. This takes away their fold equity in the situation.

These decisions can be praticed over and over by playing in SNG events. They take about an hour to play, faster if you play turbos, so you can play a lot of these in a short time. Eventually you will feel comfortable with how to play properly at different stages of an SNG. Then, when you find yourself in the final table of an MTT, you will feel like you know what you are doing.

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