Shootout Poker Tournament Strategy
Shootout tournaments involve playing several single tables – the top 3 finishers at each table moving forward to a second round and so on. These tournaments combine some sit and go strategy with multi-table tournament strategy. Since each player will take their chip count through to the next table there is no advantage to ‘folding into the money’ during the early stages. This article will look at the poker strategy adjustments required for Shootout tournaments.
Firstly we will note the prize structure implications on your strategy. Next the relation between shootout strategy and sit and go play will be noted, followed by the same comparison with multi table tournaments.
While the payout structure, and indeed the number of ’rounds’, are affected by the number of players in each shootout – the general principle is the same. The top 3 players in each round receive a prize, which rises for each round played. The 1st round may award prizes which are little more than the initial buy-in, the second round double or triple this amount and the ending round the biggest prizes yet.
This payout has interesting implications on strategy in various scenarios. For example if you are a micro-stack at the bubble of the 1st round then folding into the lowest prize may often have a better expectation than calling a raise – for example if 2 other stacks have gone all-in ahead of you. At the same time the bigger payouts for the later rounds reward positive play to build a stack to move through the rounds with.
The existence of a bubble, where 4 players remain and only 3 go through, has similarities to a SNG tournament. With the exception of the all-in scenario already mentioned, merely surviving the bubble does not have too great an expectation. Since you will take your stack to the next round then holding just a few chips will rarely allow you to cash a second time. The bubble thus has a mixture of the desire to ‘survive’ and the need to accumulate chips. One similarity with SNG bubble play is that opponents are likely to tighten up on the bubble of a shootout tournament – a situation which you can take advantage of by raising often.
Short-handed play is not usually a characteristic of multi-table tournaments until close to the end (the final table bubble and the final table itself). In a shootout tournament you will need to adjust your play to the short-handed situation during every round of play. A knowledge of the relative strength of hands, as well as the ranges of hands which your opponents are raising (or calling raises) with, are important considerations here.
There are poker strategy similarities with multi-table tournaments during the play of a shootout. The most notable of these is that the bigger rewards are for reaching the top 3 places of the final table. This affects your strategy in several ways, while the earlier payouts are welcome the balance should be towards reaching the big paying spots at the expense of the occasional smaller cash. The early cashes will often return your buy-in – effectively putting players on a ‘freeroll’ for the remainder of the shootout tournament.
To summarize, Shootout tournament strategy involves understanding some concepts from SNG play and some from MTT play. SNG type strategy includes both short handed play and understanding the dynamics of the bubble. MTT strategy revolves around aiming to accumulate chips for a realistic chance of the top paying places. Good luck!