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Dragan Galic Discusses His Tournament Strategy

Dragan Galic

There are various strategies out there, we need and use them intuitively in our daily life. What about poker? There are plenty of strategies related to the game as well.

There are extreme differences when talking about cash and tournament poker. Since I'm known to be a "passive" tournament player, I will take a closer look at that strategy.

First we have to distinguish the buy-in amount, $100, $1,000, or even $10,000, - for a professional player this shouldn't make a big difference, they will play with the same tenacity. Remember though that amateur and recreational players are able to needlessly risk the whole tournament, depending what they have in their wallet or how rich they are. Given that information, we can realize that there are less "bad" players at higher buy-in levels.

The next thing to consider is how many "big buy-in" tournaments a player has played. Why? The tournaments with $100-$500 buy-ins are finished in one day while the $2,000-$5,000, or more events last anywhere from two to five days. This is already a problem for many of the players; some of them can't play a huge stack and others try to win the tournament on day one.

Here is some of my more decisive advice. You have to sit down and realize that you do not want to play needless large pots, you have to stay alive in the tournament for several days, and the tournament can only be won when you reach the final table. This attitude will also get you in the money most of the time, plus you stay in the game and your bankroll does not suffer that much. With this knowledge, you only have to play against the luck factor and against the lack of knowledge of your rivals.

Here is a typical sample from one of the recent tournaments I played in. I played a €2,000 event with one hour levels and a 15,000 starting stack. In level three, I only had around 8,000, but it was still playable with a big blind at 200. I raised in middle position to 500 with {10-}{9-} and was called by {K-}{J-}, the flop was {J-}{10-}{9-}. I bet a bit more than the pot and was called. The turn was a {5-}, perfect for me. I went all-in and was insta-called without a second of thinking; the river was another {5-} and I had to make my exit.

OK, what happened? My opponent had too many chips. He was chip leader at the table and he had already made several "useless" moves which he had won. The question is, would he have played that way if we would have had the same amount of chips? I don't think so. He did not even realize that I had him exactly in the position that I wanted him. Besides, I would have played an overpair like queens or kings the same, or if I flopped a set or I get a made hand (straight), he would have had just a few or no outs to win the hand.

But he snap-called instead, didn't even realize what happened, and was even rude saying, "Bye bye."

You can see here, the luck factor is a big issue and additionally I played two days before against the same player in another event, where I bust him with {A-}{J-} against my {A-}{2-} on an {A-}{2-}{10-} flop. He bet 10,000 and I raised to 30,000 and without thinking he moved all-in for 50,000. That time, he found no help and he was out. In both cases without thinking what hands he can beat.

So this should be our strategy - thinking! Sometimes the best strategy gets crossed by luck but on the long run you will be ahead with a solid strategy.

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