Your stack size relative to that of your opponents becomes an important factor in the middle stages. Be more willing to gamble against short stacks that have only enough chips for one or two more bets. With small to medium pairs, be more willing to gamble against a short stack.

What you want to avoid is giving action to a small stack when a third player is involved in the hand, especially if he is sitting behind you with a threatening looking card and could raise, in which case you might be holding the third-best hand.

So be reasonably certain you will be heads up against a short stack before you do battle with him. Heads up against a short stack, I will give some loose action with the worst pair. It won't hurt me very much and I have a reasonable chance of drawing out against him.

I am inclined to gamble with hands such as three-straights or small three-flushes that I might fold in other circumstances. Be careful about the types of drawing hands you play in these middle stages even more careful than you were in the early stages when it didn't cost you as much if you failed to make your draw.

You may have to expend one third or more of your stack to play a drawing hand in the middle stage even more careful than you were in the early stages when it didn't cost you as much if you failed to make your draw. You may have to expand one third or more of your stack to play a drawing hand in the middle stage,. and you want to avoid doing that if you possibly can. Be very selective with drawing hands in tournaments.

With a large to medium stack, use a solid approach to every hand. Prefer to play more on the side of caution, except against a very tight, passive opponent. Then you can try to capitalize on his tight play by playing somewhat more liberally, perhaps putting in a raise with a medium pair, semi-bluffing, or trying an occasional ante-steal.

But when you have a short stack and are up again a tall stack,you cannot afford to jeopardize yourself with a weak drawing hand. You must wait for something better. Short stacks are more likely to get called by tall stacks because it won't cost them very much to try to eliminate a player.

So if you're the short stack, use your best judgment about when to commit your chips. Naturally, you would rather commit with a split pair and an ace kicker than you would with a small three-flush. Your chances of either having the best hand at the start or of improving to the best hand with your ace kicker are much better than you would have with your three-flush or three-straight.

Don't lose patience when you have a short stack in the middle rounds. Pick your spot-usually, with three high cards or a good pair. If you have only enough for one or two bets, it is probably better to be aggressive early with your pair and simply go all in. But if you have been forced to play a drawing hand with only enough chips left for two or three bets, you may not want to fully commit on third street.

If you don't improve on fourth poker street, you can still escape with enough chips for a few more antes, a few more opportunities to make a comeback. With a medium or large stack, try to avoid playing small pairs against other medium to large stacks. But if you have such a short stack that you think your pair may be the best hand your going to get, then play it.

Most of the time abandon small pairs unless it will cost you only one or two bets and will put you heads up against a short stack. In tournaments, it is often correct to put in a bet with a negative expectation. For example, when you have a hand that may not be the favorite to win, but it will win just often enough to make it correct for you to play against a short stack.

With a little luck, you may be able to draw out on him at minimal expense. It is important to put players all-in at every opportunity in the middle stages because even with a short stack, they can make inroads quickly. Be wary, however, about giving too much action with a truly terrible hand.

For example, if you make the forced bet with a deuce showing and have 3-7 in the hole, it isn't worth it to call an all-in bettor who raises with a 5 showing. But if your cards were 4-5-6, for example, you would have a reasonable chance to improve and may consider making the call.

Another type of hand with which you might call one extra bet against the short stack is A-K in the hole, because you have two overcards and you could outdraw him if you get lucky. You allow yourself to get lucky by solid play that enables you to survive and accumulate enough poker chips so that you can take a few gambles such as this in select situations.

It is your good, solid play in other stages of the tournament that has set the stage for you to get lucky when you think it is necessary to occasionally take the worst of it.


You will need to raise far more of5ten that you call in the later stages of a tournament. You should be trying to take the lead yourself, or isolate the action heads-up with one other player. With judicious raising and a good sense of timing, you can also pick up some additional antes.

Taking advantage of tight play in the late stage is crucial. It gives you the chance to jockey yourself into position to make the last table with a reasonable number of chips. The antes are usually quite high, making it worth the extra risk to pick up a few pots against tight players. However, you must also be ready to put on the brakes

Ante Stealing. Suppose you have a king showing with A-8 in the hole. Your king is the highest upcard and all your cards are live. Only one or two other players are yet to act. You try an ante-steal and get called by a player with a 4 showing.

What should you do on fourth poker street when your opponent catches what appears to be a bad card (in this example, a 9) and you catch a scary-looking card such as a jack or 10 (which doesn't really help you)? Fire a bet with your two high upcards in hopes of picking up the pot.

If he again calls with a raggedy front like 9-4, you are faced with a judgment decision as to what to do on fifth street. If you catch another scare card such as a queen (giving you can inside straight draw), and he catches a random 7, for example, go ahead and make another bet.

If he calls you this time-or worse yet, if he raises-you must seriously evaluate your next move. If he raises, you are in a very bad situation with only an inside straight draw against a hand that probably has a minimum of one big pair and possibly two pair or even trips.

Your opponent would have to be very brave to put in a total bluff on fifth street with his ragged-looking board cards against your strong front. Now suppose your adversary catches a suited connector to his doorcard on fifth street, for example, and you catch a bad card like a deuce or trey.

You must check to him, hope for a free card, and just pass if he bets. In this situation, it makes no sense to continue representing strength you don't have. seven card stud is a game of strong-looking boards. Be reluctant to continue playing against such a board in the late stages, and especially against several opponents.

You would need a very strong hand yourself to continue. Therefore, even if you suspect a player is on a bluff or semi-bluff, if he catches two powerful looking face cards to go with the unmatched one he already has, your taking too much of a risk to continue playing hands such as medium poker pairs, for example.

You cant afford to be a sheriff in tournament, trying to keep the other players honest. The best players in the world get bluffed more often than weaker players because they are more capable of making a big ladydown. So in the late stages, you can capitalize on the play of a conservative player who will make a laydown when he believes you have him beaten.

However, if you see that your opponents are willing to defend with medium-strength hands, your hand must be at least as god as the one they are defending with before you begin splashing around too often.

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