Chip leader. Even the less initiated to our favorite activity are familiar with this term. On the other hand, if you are a regular player, you certainly know how much this situation is an advantage to win a game, and that’s the point of this new article.
What is a chip leader?
The “chip leader” is the player with the most chips in a poker tournament.
Being chip leader also means that the player has more chips compared to the other players present at his table but also compared to the players on the other tables.
The goal will obviously be to stay the same throughout the tournament, and this, as long as possible because the position of chip leader offers several significant advantages over his opponents with a smaller mat, and therefore the margin of maneuver more limited . However, to hope to become a true poker professional one day, it is essential to know how to manage this kind of situation to the maximum to make the most of it and try to advance as far as possible in a tournament.
Chip leader: The ideal position?
Yes, being chip leader in a tournament is obviously the best poker situation, whatever the conditions, because:
- You will have a psychological advantage over your opponents
- You will not have to suffer the actions of your opponents so you can control the game
On the other hand, being the chip leader is not always the guarantee of a final victory, even in online poker, and you have to be able to evolve your game in one way or the other, depending on how well you play. opponents than the progress of the tournament.
Even players who were chip leaders at the beginning of the final table sometimes ended up losing everything because of a strategy that was too confident or too aggressive without evaluating the real risks.
How to play when one is chip leader?
Several possibilities are available to you, as often in poker.
Play aggressive, yes, but not always…
The first strategy that one would be tempted to follow when one has more chips than his opponents, and that can be effective on some hands, is to be as aggressive as possible, that is to say to bet big even before the appearance of the flop to try to steal the blinds by sleeping all those who can not afford to follow big bets with as little information on the hand to play.
However, this tactic can turn against the chip leader in the long run, especially in the early stages of a tournament, even in classic variants like Texas Hold’em. Indeed, at the beginning of the tournament, players with little pots will be reluctant to take the slightest risk, not to get out too early and thus have no chance to fight for the places to pay. There will be very little chance that they follow you and, as initially blinds are still very weak and low pots, the big initials of the chip leader will ultimately bring him only crumbs.
Also, restricted-pot poker players will only enter a hand with a very strong chance of winning, not being able to try a bluff against the chip leader. And then there is a good chance that they beat the chip leader on a regular basis, simply following each of his bets that are way too aggressive, making him lose all his stolen blinds before, or even more in the event of an unbeatable hand. that the chip leader would not have seen coming.
Play differently depending on the moment
If this offensive strategy can be much more effective during the last phases of the tournament, when risk taking of all players are much more important, we must be able to hold back at the beginning of the game despite the temptation to want to jostle a little the world.
Thus, it will be much more interesting to play tight at the beginning, not putting pressure on the other players until after the turn or the river, to force others to fold and make sure to take risks for a pot well more consequent than the blinds.
The other advantage of this way of playing is that your opponents will be more likely to be scared, later in the tournament, when you start betting big before the flop, assuming you’ve managed to keep your chip leader status. by then, because you will have a serious player image.
Later in the tournament, when the players have large chip spreads, it is almost certain that the players with the most will not take any risk by letting in players who might crack them. This will be the perfect opportunity for the chip leader to bet before the flop to steal blinds that will already be larger, waiting for one of the smallest players decide to try his luck before being smothered slowly.
The chip leader must be strong … mentally!
Playing as a chip leader does not only require tactical efforts, it also requires being mentally stronger than usual.
Indeed, it would be easy to let a little go by seeing his advantage in chips on other players. We could then, contrary to usual, not play each hand thoroughly and end up losing valuable chips because of too much casualness, but also miss a great blow playing aggression to background without trying to attract bigger potential gains to oneself.
Also, being a chip leader in a tournament can be a big hit when, suddenly, you get caught on a few hands and you end up losing your privileged status when you see yourself winning the tournament even before the tournament. have played. It will then be necessary to have the coolness necessary to resume a humble strategy rather than trying everything to find his place number 1 in the wake, at the risk of completely collapse at once and end up being the victim of a famous tilt.
Some players also tend, as chip leaders, to stop analyzing the behavior of their opponents, for example via tells, by focusing only on their only strategy. This is a serious mistake that will not allow you to see other people’s game adjustments to fight you until they end up trapping you if you do not change the way you play.
In summary, if being a chip leader will always be the ideal position in a tournament, at the beginning as well as at the end of it, it is not synonymous with a jackpot if you do not pay sufficient attention to the specificities of this position.