(Video) Prep for Battle of Malta with Maria Ho's MTT Crash Course

Maria Ho Top 5 Tips
Learn specialized strategy for low-stakes, big-field poker tournaments.

This year's Battle of Malta is going to be massive so start prepping now with Maria Ho's top five strategy tips for low-stakes, big-field poker tournaments.

In 2014 Maria Ho hosted the Battle of Malta for the first time, helping the event crush the €500,000 guaranteed prize pool.

170 players made it into the money and Bulgaria's Antoan Katsarov went all the way to win €122,750, all from just a €550 buy-in.

Big-field, low buy-in tournaments are exploding in popularity because you can win a huge prize without risking a lot of money, but bigger fields and shorter structures mean a more treacherous journey into the money.

These events demand a specialized approach and in this video Maria Ho offers five key concepts you need to know to consistently make it deep.

Watch More Poker Tips from the Pros

Check out the video and keep reading below for more strategy:

How to Play Big-Field MTTs

#5: Capitalize On Other Players' Mistakes Early

Early in these tournaments there will be players who feel pressured to play loose and aggressive in an effort to build a stack quickly. And if it's a re-entry event, some players will be willing to gamble in the early stages because they know they can buy back into the tournament.

In the first few levels you're actually pretty deep-stacked so you don't have to be the one putting it all on the line with a marginal hand. It pays to be patient and wait for a really good spot before playing for your whole stack.

#4: Play in Position, Target Weak Players

Just because we advocate waiting for a big hand before you play for stacks, it doesn't mean you should be sitting out and missing good spots to pick up easy pots.

For beginner and intermediate players, the quickest way to find these spots is to play most of your hands in position, and against the players you've identified as weak or inexperienced.

Maria Ho has a ton of tournament experience.

Weaker players will let you take down the pot when they miss, especially when they're out of position, and they're more likely to overplay a medium hand and pay you off if you do flop something big.

#3: Learn to 3-Bet Shove with 20 Big BlinMaria Hods

In this kind of tournament it's pretty common have a stack of 15 to 20 big blinds at some point and it can be an awkward spot for inexperienced players.

It's intimidating to call or raise before the flop because folding later in the hand will leave you shortstacked.

One really powerful move that uses the 15-20 big blind stack effectively is the 3-bet shove. Look for aggressive players who are opening lots of pots and jam your stack in before the flop.

You still have enough chips to force folds from medium hands, and if you choose the hands you do this with well, you won't be dominated when you do get called.

#2: Don't Be Afraid of the Bubble

During the bubble period of these kinds of events, a lot of players will shut down to try to make it into the money. This is a great time to pick up chips without have to take any big risks.

It's really important to get involved and try to build a stack while other players are tightening up.

You should also keep an eye out for other players who are also trying to take advantage of the bubble. Some of them will know that they should be playing aggressively on the bubble but they won't really want to play big pots when you put pressure on them.

You can 3-bet these players before the flop and call in position to try to take the pot away later in the hand.

#1: Get a Headstart on Building Reads for the Final Table

The big money in poker tournaments is at the final table and you can give yourself an edge by profiling everyone you play with earlier in the tournament, before you meet them at the final table.

It's common beginner advice to always pay attention, even when you're not in the hand, but it's something that most poker players fail to actually do well.

When there's five tables left, really start working on building reads. There's always a redraw at three tables, and sometimes at two, so chances are you'll play with everyone who makes the final table before you even get there.

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Willem Defold 2015-04-22 16:02:38

Definitely be trying to win my way to Battle of Malta to play with Maria Ho!

Colin 2015-04-22 12:37:30

Very useful tips! I like hearing someone talk a bit casually through some of these concepts. So much more to learn but these provide some nice starting points for further study!

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