Poker Tournaments: Big Stack Strategy

Poker Tournaments: Big Stack Strategy

Sitting down at the table with a big stack can give poker players a towering advantage over their opponents. The sheer size of a big stack can intimidate opponents into giving up their blinds or folding on raises, as they're afraid of losing their money and going out early.

But a big stack can also work against players if they do not know how to play with it correctly. It's all too easy to become a target for cunning opponents who are skilled in stealing from reckless players who have a lot of money on the table. Avoid becoming a target and play effectively with this big stack strategy guide.

Big Stack Explained

There is no clear value to determine a big stack, as this can vary between tables and tournaments. Instead, a big stack can easily be considered the player with the most chips at the table. That being said, other players with large piles of chips can also be considered as having big stacks. In tournaments, there will be lots of players with big stacks because there are many more tables.

Consider Your Position

The first piece of advice is to always consider your position in the betting. Being the first player to bet or fold is completely different from getting to see how everyone else reacts. For instance, players in the early positions need strong hands to justify bold raises, as a weak hand will only leave the chips vulnerable to players with stronger hands.

In later positions, it is possible to take advantage of players who have folded their cards early or checked. This is an ideal time to read their actions and look for a moment of weakness, so raise or steal the blinds if they are there for the taking. A big stack will make it intimidating for opponents to call if they have weak cards.

Sound Bankroll Management

A bankroll must always be treated with respect. In no way should the funds be used to take wild risks on unmanageable losses. Therefore, it is vital to find a balance that allows for winning while not being harshly punished for losses.

The optimal strategy for sound bankroll management is to only join a table if 100 big blinds can be covered – those 100 big blinds should equal a single buy-in. At this stage, the aim is to build up 25 buy-ins before climbing to the next pot level. Meanwhile, players should take a step down if they only have 25 buy-ins for the level below.

Playing Tight and Aggressive

Big stack players can be disciplined in their decision-making by only playing with strong cards. The logic behind this strategy is that paying to see most of the hands will rapidly deplete a bankroll. Giving up weak hands will preserve a big stack, which is the aim here.

Reactionary players who continually check and call are clear targets for their opponents. Alternatively, being aggressive will enable players to keep opponents off balance and force them into making more mistakes. A lack of aggression is what makes inexperienced opponents so easy to read.

Pick Your Battles Wisely

Intimidation is the key advantage to playing with a big stack. Therefore, it is vital to maximise this advantage by avoiding other big stacks unless holding an excellent hand. A single bad outcome against another big stack could mean life back in the minor leagues.

The wiser strategy is to look for opportunities to steal chips from smaller stacks. Beat enough of these players and a big stack will be even larger, helping to assert an even stronger advantage over the remaining opponents. By this point, the next closest player might not feel so confident in their own stack as before.

Don't Be Greedy

Having an enormous pile of chips and a table of weaker players can give the big stack a false sense of confidence that can be turned against them. Thus, big stack players need to be wary if another big stack joins their table during a tournament. They will not be as willing to give up round after round of blinds and could coax the greedier big stack into losing with an all-in bet.

Avoid Big Bluffs

In tournaments, big stacks do not have to make big bluffs where they risk large bets with extremely weak cards. The big stack is enough of an advantage to intimidate other players into making mistakes. One bad bluff can cost even a big stack’s tournament status.

Here are our picks for the top real money mobile poker apps in New Zealand

Recommended Poker Sites

Bell Icon
Affiliate Disclosure: At Gambling.com, we want to ensure that players are matched with the right casino and sportsbook offers for them. For this reason, some of the recommended site links are affiliate links. This means that if you visit a website through our link and make a deposit, Gambling.com will receive a commission payment at no extra cost to you. At Gambling.com, we want to ensure that players are matched with the right casino and sportsbook offers for them. For this reason, some of the recommended site links are affiliate links. More
  1. Official Partner of F1 McLaren Racing Team
    Poker Ambassador Kevin Hart
    Earn up to 40% Cashback Every Week
    Bonus Code
    Tooltip The code required to claim this sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Payout Time
    Tooltip The average withdrawal processing time
    1-2 Days
    Rakeback
    Tooltip Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    Yes
    WSOP Satelites
    Tooltip Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    Yes
    Home Games
    Tooltip Can you set up private online poker games with friends?
    Yes
    One of the pioneers of online poker, PartyPoker was once the world’s biggest poker site and they still host huge online tournaments such as the prestigious MILLIONS series with a $1million guaranteed main event, plus satellites to PartyPoker live events.
  2. 'Online Poker Operator of the Year' 2022
    Unique BLAST & SNAP Fast-Fold Games
    Satellites to Exclusive Online XL Series
    Bonus Code
    Tooltip The code required to claim this sign-up bonus (if any)
    NEW888
    Payout Time
    Tooltip The average withdrawal processing time
    1-3 Days
    Rakeback
    Tooltip Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    No
    WSOP Satelites
    Tooltip Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    Yes
    Home Games
    Tooltip Can you set up private online poker games with friends?
    Yes
    With over 10 million registered members, 888poker is one of the world’s largest poker networks and they also have their own live circuit featuring some of the most prestigious poker events in the world, with destinations such as London, Barcelona and Bucharest.
  3. 80 Million Customers in Over 150 Countries
    Regular Tournament Series Events
    Twister Sit & Go's with Jackpot Prize-Pools
    Bonus Code
    Tooltip The code required to claim this sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Payout Time
    Tooltip The average withdrawal processing time
    1-3 Days
    Rakeback
    Tooltip Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    Yes
    WSOP Satelites
    Tooltip Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    No
    Home Games
    Tooltip Can you set up private online poker games with friends?
    No
    Bet365 Poker offer regular Cash Games, Sit & Gos & Tournaments, plus premium tables where you'll play exclusively against Bet365 players only. They also provide 24/7 customer support.
×