If you have ever reached the final table while playing in a poker tournament, you are doing something right. The strategy for final table play is quite different from the proper procedure for playing at previous points during the tournament. The most crucial factor in deciding your final table strategy is your stack size. At that point, you might enter the final table with a short stack, an average stack, or as the chip leader. Now that you have reached the final table, you’re likely to run into more skilled players.

Evaluate the Competition

Since several players leave before they reach the final table, you will have a pretty good idea about the remaining players. Your initial goal at the final table is to develop an opinion about their particular play-styles. You should use note-taking to record your thoughts and go back to them later. Ensure you note if they tend to limp or fold, steal in a later position, defend blinds, or get an all-in preflop. That information comes in handy in the final stages of a tournament when you make crucial decisions.

Short Stack at Final Table

You should consider stacks that have about ten big blinds for a short stack. The blinds and antes are significant and place pressure on your stack; therefore, short stacks should take a more aggressive approach with an all-in or fold to survive. Short stacks should be opening pots with an all-in raise if you have two face cards or a pocket pair. If someone raises the pool, you should call your entire stack off if you have a high pair or two high face cards. You might win the pot uncontested; however, if you call an all-in, you will be forced into a showdown no matter what. Short stacks are desperate and might call your steal with a marginal hand. Moreover, the stacks may have enough chips to call with a weak hand to try and knock you out. Average stacks will try to advance in the pay scale. They are the most likely ones to fold when you make a steal attempt.

Average Stack at Final Table

Average stacks are freer to operate than short stacks since they are not in all-in or fold mode.  You should consider any stack from 15 to 40 big blinds to be an average stack. Although those players are not short-stacked, they have to be quite aggressive to fight against the increasing blinds and the antes. At that point, you can use a few other strategies like squeezing, calling bluffs, and re-stealing so you can build up your stack and continue to advance in the tourney. For a squeeze play, you should wait until you’re in a late position and an early position player raises. If others smooth call the raise, you can put in a large re-raise if you have a decent hand. If you think a short stack has pushed all-in with a weak hand, you can call him down if your hand is better. If a short stack goes all-in, you should call with a medium-big pocket pair if you think they are desperate. If a player continually steals your blinds, you can re-raise to keep him honest. That is re-stealing.

Big Stack at Final Table

Big stacks take the game to a higher level. You should play aggressively to knock out your opponents so you can win more chips. If you manage to amass a sizeable chip lead when you reach four or five-handed, you can become a favourite to win the tournament overall. An aggressive strategy is best for players who want to win the competition and are ok with a lower finish if things don’t go their way. If you need to guarantee a top-three finish, go ahead and play more conservatively while the short stacks knock each other out. You’ll have less chance of winning the tournament; however, you should be able to reach the top three prizes.

Seizing Control & Final Table Aggressive Strategy

Imagine you want to take that first prize and a decent chunk of change down. You have a healthy stack of chips and don’t mind taking some chances. The first step is to spot players who aren’t going to defend their blinds. If they come over the top of you, you’ll know it’s time to get out. The key to winning is a position and power over your opponents, and that is magnified even more at the final table. If you have a chip advantage on the blinds, you can try to run over them from a late position with any suited cards, face cards, any pair, or whatever else makes you feel comfortable.

Those types of players might be too timid even to call you, and if they do, you still stand a chance to win. Besides, they aren’t going to take a sizable chunk out of your stack. With some luck and the right timing, you will knock out a few players and win all the chips. It’s better to take that risk than miss the opportunity to dominate timid players. Next time your A to K flush gets beaten all-in against five or six, remember the Big Slick is still only a drawing hand. You aren’t an overwhelming favourite against two live cards. It usually only comes down to whoever pairs one of their hole cards. If you are short-stacked, suited connectors can be an excellent hand to put pressure on opponents.

Mental Toughness

Mental toughness is crucial to playing your best in any poker situation. Mental toughness is particularly vital when you face problems during play, obstacles, intense adversity, or failure at the poker table. Having mental toughness will help you play more consistently, regardless of any challenges at the poker table.