4 Tips to Winning Double or Nothing Tournaments

By: Todd Daons

Double or nothing tournaments are much different than normal poker tournaments because they have a very unique payout structure. In a double or nothing tournament half of the players in the field double their buy-in and half lose theirs. The fact that so many players cash combined with the fact that there is no difference in prize amount between first place and the last casher means the strategy for these tournaments is very unique.

Tip #1 – Play Tight in the Early Stages of the Tourney
At this stage of a double or nothing tournament you want to play very tight and only play big hands. The less experienced double or nothing players will likely be playing a lot of hands and you want to let them. If you do find a good hand you should play it aggressively in order to keep from allowing your opponent to suck out on you.

Tip #2 – Maintain Your Stack through the Middle Stages
In the middle stages of a double or nothing tournament the blinds will start to increase and you will need to steal blinds on occasion to maintain your stack size. You can’t have your stack getting too small at this stage because you want it to carry you through the later levels.

Tip #3 – Survive the Late Stages
In the late stages you should just be focussing on surviving. At this point there will be about two-thirds of the field remaining which means there will only be a few more busts before you cash. If you have a big stack at this stage you should just hold onto it and not risk any chips when you don’t need to. If you have a short stack you will want to compare your stack size to the other short stacks and if you are in a non-cash position you should get aggressive and try to gain some chips. If you need to get aggressive you should try to use your position to your advantage and you should also attack the blinds of the medium sized stacks. These players with about an average stack at this point will be wanting to fold their way into the money and you can take advantage of this by stealing their blinds.

Tip #4 – Avoid Coin Flips in the Early Stages
In double or nothing tournaments it is best to avoid coin flips in the early stages because they are negative expected value. This is simply because if you lose the coin flip you’re out of the tourney and you lose the buy-in, whereas if you manage to win the coin flip you just have double the amount of chips and you aren’t even guaranteed to cash. This theory holds true only because the top prize you can win is only double your buy-in and by winning the 50% coin flip you haven’t even guaranteed yourself this cash.

Double or nothing tournaments are a grind and once the non-experienced players go out in the early rounds it all comes down to who can best adjust in the late stages and get the cards when they are needed.

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