Sports & Games

Tournament Strategy: Late Stages and Final Table

Daniel Negreanu

Lesson time 10:18 min

Now that you’ve made it past the bubble, it's time to bring home the prize. Daniel teaches you how to take calculated risks and execute strategically-timed aggression to become a tournament champion.

Daniel Negreanu
Teaches Poker
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So now we're past the bubble point, everybody's in the money, and you're gonna see the entire dynamic shift. What you saw before about all this pressure that was available to put on shorts stacks is gone, right? The big stacks no longer have the ability to do that. Because what's gonna happen is these short stacks are gonna open up their game. So while they might have been folding hands as good as jacks or queens earlier, they're gonna start looking at an ace-seven and going all in with it because there's not a lot at risk for them anymore. Well, the way pay jumps work-- say, for example, the example I used where it pays 150 spots. For you to see any significant pay jump from 150th, you're gonna have to get down to probably the last couple of tables, where you're down to like 27 or so. So maybe if you bought in for a $1,000 tournament and the min cash was $1,900, right? You're gonna see an increase to maybe $2,100 if you outlast like 20 players. So for the $100, it doesn't make sense at that stage to continue to hold on for dear life. Now is your time to try to get back in the tournament and double up. So if you're one of the bigger stacks or the medium stacks, you need to have a mental shift and go, OK, I have to stop being the nutso maniac who's attacking every pot and let this happen for a little while. Let the chips disperse. The short stacks will go away. What you'll start to see is a concentration once again of a little bit more deep stack play. Because it really does, in a lot of bubbles, get to the point where the average stack gets very, very low, which causes a lot of all-in play. Once that's over, you'll start to set yourself up for the next stage, which is approaching the final table. Going into a final table coming in is one of the top three stacks is incredibly important because it's gonna open up for you so many more opportunities than if you're always finding yourself with 12 left or 10 left on the short stack. When you're on the short stack, what's your weapon? What do you have left? You just got one play, which is an all in, hope and despair. So it's gonna require you to also take a few more risks. Typically a strategy that I've used for many years in tournaments has been a small ball approach. And essentially what that describes is me taking very little risk, waiting for my opponents to make mistakes, and then capitalizing on the mistakes they make. Later in these tournaments today, especially with the better players and the concentration, you're gonna have to force some more mistakes. You're gonna have to take a few more risks. So in the old days, I wouldn't want to take a coin flip situation. What is a coin flip situation? A pair versus two over cards. So the classic confrontation is pocket 10s, for example, against ace-king. Pretty close to a 50/50 flip. Now, in most tournaments in the old days, I never wanted to be in that spot, literally ever. Today, there's an understanding that you're going to ...

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Put yourself across the felt from Daniel Negreanu, the biggest live tournament poker winner of all time. The six-time World Series of Poker champion teaches poker strategy, advanced theory, and practice through hand-reviews of his winning games. Learn how to sharpen your mental game through demos on reading opponents and spotting tells. Join Daniel at the table to increase your win rate, grow your ROI, and get your game “in the money.”


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Although the class has yet to be completely released. I have already utilized some of what Daniel has taught me. It thus far is invaluable to me.

There's lot of valuable information here and the course worth it indeed. There still a need to review and internalize a lot of concepts in my poker and I am grateful to Daniel and the Masterclass platform to share all his knowledge with us in an easy to understand and fun language. Hope more from Daniel in the future for sure using same format (perhaps in an in depth poker approach second course).

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A fellow student

When you make it to the final table in tournament play, and the blinds are doubling after every hand, do you play the same ICM strategy?

Zachary Z.

I don't play too much tournament poker; I play a lot of cash games. Regardless, I found these lessons (just like the others) useful, because they highlighted a big mistake I find myself making in cash games. When I do get a big stack (40 BB plus), I've been way too generous to the other players, probably being too aggressive and even doubling others up. I play frequently with people who have a good idea of my style, so I guess I can adapt by doing the opposite and actually tightening my range when I grow a big stack. Like Daniel said in the earlier video, a big stack is something to be coveted. I've been on a bad swing lately, and I hope I can use some of these lessons to go back to my winning ways.


I downloaded the ICM trainer. When I launched it, it is in German. Did anyone else have that problem?

Quinten K.

I have a question, what if there is a three way all-in. Player A has 1000 chips, player B has 200 and player C has 50 chips. player has the best hand player has the best hand after A, player C the worst hand. A wins without a question, who ends up second?

Joe K.

Always better to be the aggressor in that situation. I see that played out in earlier situations also, but it often is repeated too often and the player gets in trouble as a result. I see the advantage here for sure though.