Multi-Table Tournament Strategy: At the Final Table

Final table

The final table is where every poker player wants to end up in a big tournament.

Once there, you should be facing all experienced tournament players. This will require you to take a certain attitude toward the table as well as a certain unique strategy.

Study Your Opponents

You don't really need to study your opponents in the early rounds since so many players are moved to and from your table.

At the final table, though, all of the players around you are most likely great tournament players. Very rarely will you run into a fish who caught a mad streak of cards and ended up at the final table, although it does happen.

For the first 10 or so hands, play extremely tight. Get a feel for the table and how people are playing. Poker brings out different emotions in different people, and you must learn the current state of every player.

Have you spotted a player who's loosened up? Is there a large stack leaning on people? Is someone to your left folding almost every hand?

More than likely you'll notice mostly tight players at the final table. You'll also run across a few people utilizing the maniac tournament approach. Identify these players and adjust your play accordingly.

In essence, final-table play involves playing the player and not the cards.

Wait It Out

The final table will bring about some of the best poker you'll witness. This is simply because most of these players feel grateful to be there. They'll be on their best behavior and play the best hands possible.

If you spot a maniac at the table, let him take a few people out. Sit back and feel your way around the table until a few people are gone.

There will come a time when you make your move, but don't go out unless you have a good hand. Conversely, if the table is really tight, you may want to take a few risks and rain on the blinds.

A good tournament player's motto for the final table should be "playing the player, not the cards."

Luck and the Final Table

It would be lying to say you could finish first at the final table without luck. It's impossible.

Most players at the final table are great tournament players, meaning that more than likely it will be a dogfight for each ascending place.

Make use of every edge available to you. Spot the tight players and maniacs. Adjust your play to each individual player.

Although you want to play tight, you'll need to take some calculated risks. The best way to beat the final table is to look for any edge possible by analyzing each precious detail available to you.

Watch how each individual bets and how much he bets each hand. Study each showdown at the table as if your life depended on it. The final table is all about feel, not about cards.

Good luck and see you at the tables!


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william williams 2013-08-13 02:08:41

After 8months and about 12 $40 tournaments is have started winning3out of last 4 (2nd 2nd and 4th) and I know im a donkey when it gets to 5 players or less. Today was the worst...I think it was against better players. Getting in top three and chopping the pot would have meant $500 instead of $240.
I like what you wrote, i became the maniac. Maybe afraid of having only 10 or 15 BBs or the speed of play or even low blood sugar as it ranks from 10am -14:20 and no breakfast and maybe 8cups of coffee.
Actually to be honest is dont think I respected the other players enough. During regular play many played low starting requirements. I really couldn't figure out what I should open or raise with and how far to go with it...Since I tended not to believe them..something I used to have a problem with in regular play.
Thanks for the strategies. William from Vancouver
Bye the way I came back from losing 30,000 midgame I had 600!! 6 blacks and came back to 50,000 chip leader by the time 6tables were down to less than 2 full ones. Not bragging and some luck...Poker can be real fun. Good luck all.

SkillBill 2013-01-08 15:27:14

some books define middle play as the stage of the tourney when:
1)all or most fish are gone from ur table
2)there is a certain chipleader
3)tourney entrants are reduced to about half
4)and more important,middle play is when players start shifting gears from more agressive to tight.u have to observe the table and especially the good players to be ready to act upon the change.
if the majority of the above has happened,then its middle play time.
last call if u havent already noticed u are in middle stage while playing is the addition of antes.

hope that helps :)

Sean Lind 2009-08-08 00:18:00

Although it depends on a lot of factors, 60-100 bb can typically be considered middle-blind play. the 100 end is pretty deep, and is more wide open than 60 obviously, but it's a good general idea to keep in mind.

mat 2009-08-07 16:41:00

You are the best.
Great articles!

Only queston is how to know when to go into "Middle-blind play"

startingstack 1500

is middleblind-level starting at around 50/100 blinds?

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