Over the last few weeks I've been writing about the effect luck can have on Poker, how some game designers have looked to combat the sometimes unfair effects that luck can have on the game, such as by playing Small Ball poker, or even creating new versions of Poker entirely.
However, I've not written about how you I believe you can combat these difficulties or the tactics I use when doing my best to survive the endless freerolls I keep getting myself into.
Without a solid plan of attack, and a couple of methods to try and minimise the effect of luck when in the countless make-or-break situations that arise due to the inflated field sizes, and egos of some of the less skilled players, you will not survive long in the freeroll coliseum.
Some of the tactics that I use to when playing freerolls are incredibly simple, something I would greatly encourage when it comes to MTT's (Mutli-Table Tournaments).
Whilst your ambitious Six-Bet shove with air might work once, and, yes it might have even been totally awesome, it is undoubtedly an extremely risky play, for either all or most of your chips.
Just because something worked once, doesn't necessarily mean it will work again, especially if you try in quick succession, on the same table.
Things change between each and every hand, stack sizes change, table image changes, gut feelings get ignored then listened to. Multiple reasons for your bluff to get called this time around will emerge exponentially with each successive hand.This is the same for every play you make, risky or standard or otherwise.
With this in mind, doesn't it make sense to make the majority of your plays only for a small portion of your chips?
Instead of firing a bluff on the flop, checking the turn and firing again on the river, why not just fire once on the turn? Do you really need to raise everything pre-flop? Really? Do you really need to call them if they catch you raising with bad hand? Do you really need to bluff on the last street if you think they're calling more times than not anyway?
In terms of that one specific hand, and in relation to your stack size at that hypothetical moment in the tournament, then maybe you do need to. Maybe this is the last chance you'll get to accumulate chips before the blinds go up again, or the pot size is too big to pass up, even if you can only win with a handful of cards.
But for the most part, careful playing leads to the best chance to accumulate chips. Believe or not there will be better spots to win pots, and there will be times where you'll be calling raises when you have the nuts already. It happens, but the only way it will is by sticking around.
Another simple tactic I use is careful hand selection, something that I have learned from my time of taking down multiple Pokerstars Razz and Omaha Hi-Lo Freerolls.
Whilst the decision isn't as clear-cut as the ‘Three Cards Under Eight Rule' for Razz, and my own ‘Two-Pair or Better' rule for Omaha, careful hand selection, and disciplining post-flop folding, is key to surviving huge tournaments where Runner-Runner hands are always possible.
Here's my own rule of thumb: After the flop, do you need to go Runner-Runner to achieve the highest potential for your hand? If yes, fold it.
Whilst this rule eliminates any possibility for me to steal dead money from pots when the board runs particular dry, or so wet that everyone becomes scared of re-raises, it also rules out any situations where I waste large portions of my stack waiting around for miracle cards that hardly ever come. If you're not requiring large amounts of luck to go your way, then more times than not you will fare better than those who do require luck.
For some evidence, during your next poker session, just count how many times the less skilled players check-call all the way to the end, before folding to the third barrel. Chances are this will happen a lot, and they will waste thousands and thousands of chips in the process of chasing that elusive perfect card.
When the stars align they'll take the pot or even their opponents entire stack, but the more luck you require, the less times it will happen. The more times things are expected to go in your favour, the less risk is attached to it.
But my final, final piece of advice to combat luck whilst playing poker is pot control. Keeping pots small and under control before you have seen the entire board is essential for surviving large Multi Table Tournaments.
The less chips you have invested in the pot, the less incentives you have to call huge bets and raises when there are still multiple cards still to be revealed. The biggest mistake I see inexperienced players making is raising small in multi-way pots, with the hope of winning huge pots at the showdown.
What happens the majority of the time is that smaller stacks will use this opportunity to shove all-in and steal the pot, knowing full well no-one has a hand they'd risk their stack for. I see this again and again, and hear again and again the moans from players about the short stack ‘getting lucky.'
Trust me, it's not luck, it's just taking advantage of players who have to rely on luck in order to win chips when things don't go their way.
Don't wait for luck to go your way. You don't need when you've got your plan, and you've got your skill.
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