Poker Tournaments: Medium Stack Strategy


Poker Tournaments: Medium Stack Strategy

It can be tricky deciding what to do when looking down at a medium stack in a tense poker tournament. Where do you begin? Do you try and maintain your stack, or attack to try and bolster your chips? For every poker player, whether a beginner or a seasoned pro, an air-tight strategy is key to staying, and succeeding, in the game.

What is a Medium Stack?

Every player has an individual view about the size of a medium stack, which varies depending on the amount of chips you tend to play during a tournament. When looking at the number of big blinds, it is often safe to suggest you stop being short-stacked when you have mustered 12 or more big blinds in your stack.

It follows, then, that somewhere in the range of 14-25 big blinds can fall under the category of a medium stack in lower stakes tournaments. An exception to this would be in big Buy-In Tournaments where there are going to be huge stacks that will dwarf the 25 big blinds in front if you, but the scale is still relative.

Pick a Strategy

No matter what stage of the tournament you’re at, make sure you've got a plan of how to build your stack as, essentially, a bigger tower has the potential to help you land a bigger payout.

It makes sense to mix up your play depending on the tournament. For example, if it's slow and steady, you can try and snatch blinds and small pots to build gradually. You're more likely to feel at ease at this pace, and you may find it easier to throw away hands as you find time to chip away at opponents' stacks.

If the structure is fast, you may be inclined to take more risks. Try and get chips in on the flop when you are marginally ahead, as although there's a chance this could go against you, it also gives you the opportunity to build quickly for the impending big blinds. Do avoid relinquishing chips and playing weak hands where possible, so you don't end up committing to the pot with rags.

In any tournament, a medium stack means that hand selection is key. Consistently look to play top-pair hands and big pocket pairs. This size stack means you have the most to lose and the most to gain at once.

Apply Pressure

Don’t get overly comfortable with your position – always try and pick up chips when the opportunity presents itself. A great way to do this is by targeting the short stacks. Don’t be afraid to ‘bully’ the short-stacks in the manner the bigger stacks will go after you.

Every player will at some point be in a vulnerable position where they are forced to throw away hands they would usually have played, after not wanting to be pot-committed with a small amount of chips in behind. Make people think about their chips so you can sneak blinds, as early raises go some way towards buying the pot if you are strong with the resources you have.

Calculated Moves

Don’t let the game pass you by. You don’t have to succumb to the big stacks as you can still make strong plays and take calculated risks. Don’t be afraid to attack with pairs, strong suited connectors and AJ+. Strong play, particularly if you have previously been rather restrained, can help pick up chips without going to showdown.

Finish the Job

There’s no point doing the early work if you fail to capitalise when it really matters. Don’t get overly aggressive to a point where you are playing hands you’re not keen on completely committing to, as this raises the opportunity to lose valuable chips or perhaps over-commit and exit the tournament. Keep the pressure on with re-steals and re-raises to show you won’t be overpowered when the situation is right and you will soon forge your way back to big stack territory.

If you think you've got what it takes to master medium stack strategy, visit Winner Poker today!

Recommended Poker Sites

Poker Strategy Articles

Top 10 Online Poker Variants
Top 10 Online Poker Variants

Poker has a vast number of variants, from large table games to battles between man and machine. Each one offers something different to pioneering players ready to explore the rich range of options, so ... Read More

Understanding Texas Hold'em Poker Starting Hand Odds: Effective Pre-Flop Play
Understanding Texas Hold'em Poker Starting Hand Odds: Effective Pre-Flop Play

In Texas Hold’em you’re required to place a bet before the starting flop, so it’s always worth considering how strong any two starting cards are against the different two-card combinations your oppone ... Read More

Switching from Hold'em to Stud: Basic Strategy Considerations
Switching from Hold'em to Stud: Basic Strategy Considerations

Stud is a classic form of poker, requiring plenty of observation, patience and strategy. With the game more focussed on individual hands than community cards, your approach to Stud Poker should be sub ... Read More

7 Best Online Poker Variants
7 Best Online Poker Variants

Poker has recently made its way from a high-roller pastime to a worldwide spectator "sport", with the World Series of Poker and various other televised events introducing a whole new generation to the ... Read More

Poker Tournaments: Winning Long-Term in the Tournament Circuit
Poker Tournaments: Winning Long-Term in the Tournament Circuit

In most tournaments even though the structure varies greatly you should keep in mind that the pay-out bubble is usually the same, approximately close to 11%. ... Read More

Poker Tournaments: Re-Buy Tournaments Strategy
Poker Tournaments: Re-Buy Tournaments Strategy

Before entering any type of tournament it is very important to first understand the structure of the tournament. ... Read More

Poker Navigation


Sign up for the free Newsletter to stay on top of all the best bonuses!
We will never share or misuse your personal information. Privacy Policy

Latest Poker Strategy


Country Guide