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From just learning the ropes in Step A to winning it all in Step G, the PokerStars Steps tournaments are a long, exciting route to the EPT.
You start with the virtual beginners, grasping around for the right moves, and by the time you finish in Step G you're going head-to-head with some of the best players in the world.
To do well in the Steps tournaments you must have a somewhat successful track record in SNGs.
You also need to have a good understanding of the changing rhythms needed: of prudence in the first levels to an aggressive finish.
Climbing the Steps
The goal in these tournaments, obviously, is to climb your way up the ladder to the top step.
Gradually, as you get closer, you need to be sure to pay attention to the "programming" needed for the following step.
When you’ve acquired your ticket for Step F, observe in volume and take a lot of notes on the play of specialists.
But above all, don’t rush! To give yourself the best chance to qualify, only choose the best moments.
Poker Stars and the seven steps.
Don’t Lose Your Ticket
When you’re trying to climb the Steps ladder, the first objective is primarily to not lose your ticket to the level you're at.
Finishing in third or fourth place will usually reimburse your ticket for that level and not drop you down to your previous step.
If you don’t win the first time but finish third or fourth, you can play several more times and give more chances to, well, chance.
Your objective must then first be to not lose ground, which will then automatically multiply your chances of winning.
The First Stages to the Final Four
In short, at any Step level: Avoid any flips in the first stages, see flops quietly and only make small bluffs to steal the pot.
You don’t want to put yourself in any danger in this part of the tournament as you need to make the final four places 9 times out of 10.
When you get to the final four players, that's when the real qualifying starts and controlled risk-taking is essential.
At four players, you have to go looking for chips so you won’t be the short stack against the other players, who will likely band together.
This is where you must not miss your chances.
You can’t learn everything in a few lines, but if you have the chance to get to three players and there are only two winners… Well, here is where I want to help you ensure your qualification.
So: Hands off the mouse. No reflexive or quick moves. Use your time bank every time.
A Quick Spin Through the Math
You’re at three players and there are two qualifiers. In other words, you have two chances in three to win (66%).
The objective here is only to further increase your chances, so don’t make any moves that increase your risk of a quicker elimination.
How? A flip with QQ against AK? Of course not!
This decreases your chances from essentially 66% to 53% (your slight edge in the flip).
Have a nice-looking AK in your hand and thinking about trapping your opponent who you will put all in with his JT?
Not good either, as your chances still decrease again – you’re only a 60% favorite there rather than 66%.
With your AK, you can still trap even better. See yourself beating his A2 with your AK?
Your odds are indeed the exact same at two out of three, but here you’re actually initiatiing your chance to lose right now.
What About Aces?
Ok, so what about THE bomb? Happily, you look down and see AA.
At the end of the steps, ElkY awaits.
Better, but don’t forget that it’s still not a guaranteed win.
That said, yes, in that exact case you increase you chances substantially from 66% to 80% so your chances of winning are greater.
But now, well, you’ve become aware of the hazards of poker. You can still lose 20% of the time with aces.
Your Best Move is to Not Play
At three players left, your #1 goal is to get into the best position possible … where you DO NOT PLAY!
This exact spot is when the other two players have an all in and a call between them.
If they have equal stacks, this is the only moment in poker where you’ve increased your chances of winning to infinity.
So wait all you can, watch the aggressiveness of your opponents and concentrate on the real goal.
This is your obssession: to stay in the tournament until the other two are all-in against each other.
By focusing on this reality, you let the others run into each other and you multiply your chances of success.
More in the How to Qualify for the EPT Series:
About the Author:
Pierre Neuville is known across Europe as the "Serial PokerStars Qualifier" for his incredible run of qualifying for 23 consecutive European Poker Tour main events via online satellite. Read more about Pierre Neuville on his author page.
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