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So I've been doing some thinking about no limit tournaments in general. They have gotten A LOT TOUGHER!!! I went back and looked at some old hand histories I had on PokerXFactor of tournies that I had won 2 years ago. It amazed me how many successful spots I could find on the bubble to open steal, without meeting resistance. It also amazed me how I could go through a whole tourney without ever 3 betting...let alone ever getting 4 bet light...and still ship the win.
These days... everyone is reshipping light out of the blinds.. and many times its all in, negating your option to 4-bet them. Players are defending their blinds more with a wider variety of hands. The stop-and-go is running rampant. The C-bet that once used to work, now gets check raised more often than not. And everyone appears to be a floater these days.... it is inevitable the learning curve would catch up and it appears that it has. Tournament poker has most definitely evolved...and it has gotten a whole lot tougher.
I know a lot of great players who are struggling to put up the same scores they used to a few years ago...even one year ago. There is a small percentage of super talented, naturally gifted players who are still consistent in the large buyins and still putting up +ROI's in them. But what about for the rest of us...who are grinding the medium to lower stakes and relying more and more on winning the 60 40s, because the plays that once used to work, are constantly getting played back at? What are we left to do?
Well... here's what I think:
1) Stay one step ahead of the evolution - Start to pick out parts of your game that are just plain not working. Think about what used to be effective and ask yourself why it no longer is. How have the players adapted to it? If you are at a table where your continuation bet is constantly getting check raised then stop doing it. Instead.. be creative. Check behind and then raise them if they lead out the turn...put the pressure on them. If you are out of position and are in a pot against a player who you suspect has been floating your flop bets... then check to them and then raise their bet... or check call the flop and then check raise the turn...again, putting the pressure on them. How often can people really have a hand to counter-act the strong line you are showing? Not often...your success rate of taking down the pots post flop will be higher than the amount of times you run into a monster. If you find players are defending their blinds, or reshipping your late position raises, then stop giving them those chips. Fold more...tighten up...wait to trap them with real hands you are ready to commit with. Find the nitty players at your table.. and save your open raises to pick on their blinds.
I am working on new tactics in my NL game, because I don't want to be left behind. I want to stay one step ahead of the inevitable evolution...and so should you.
2) Learn a new game. I cannot tell you how soft the mixed game tournaments still are across all sites. If your only focus is no limit, I really encourage you to learn a new game. It is never too late. Whether it is Omaha, Stud Hi, Razz, Stud 8 or even Fixed Limit Holdem. There is a lot of dead money floating around in these tournaments. Sure, these mtts don't get big guarantees, except around FTOPS, WCOOP etc, but they are a great way to pad your bankrolls...I have been doing great in the mixed game mtts lately and they are really saving my bankroll while I wait to hit a legitimate No limit score. In fact my overall ROI's in Omaha, Omaha8 and Horse are higher than my NL ROI, even though I consider NL to be my strongest game. Most of my wins in mixed game events is because of the strategy I apply from my success at NL tournaments... bubble aggression...resteals...attacking nits...patience. These are concepts that you can combine with a basic foundation of a new game and you will be amazed at the success you can achieve.
So I am currently rotating more and more mixed game tournaments into my daily schedule. Over the past week I have won a 5k Razz mtt, a $20 NLO8 mtt, and took 2nd in a $15 PLO Turbo. Although none of these scores were anything to write home about.. they help pad my bankroll, keep my confidence up, and also keep things interesting compared to a mundane NL schedule. So this is all just some food for thought...some things that have been on my mind lately that I wanted to share. If anyone is interested in learning a new game or wants to fine tune their basic foundation, I would love to help you out. I am starting to coach again...all games... NL, Razz, Omaha Hi (pot limit, no limit), Omaha8 (fixed limit pot limit, no limit), STud8, STud Hi. The coaching will be specifically tailored to your goals and I can promise you it will be well worth the investment. There is no reason you can't stay one step ahead of the poker evolution...