Strategies for Laddering Up in Poker Tournaments
Have you ever made it to the money of an NL Hold’em poker tournament or even the final table and knew there was little chance of winning? When that happens, the best thing you can do is try and hold on to make as much money as you can. This is known as laddering up in the poker world.
Today, we will give you some strategies of how you can try and ladder up in poker tournaments. Granted, these strategies won’t help you win more tournaments, but they may help you make more money when it’s clear you won’t win.
Play ABC Poker
If you are in a laddering situation, you aren’t looking to mix it up with a lot of players. You’re looking for a top 10 hand that you can try and double with. Big pairs and big aces are pretty much what you’re looking for. Anything else and you’re going to be folding and waiting for other players to get brave with their shorter stacks.
Attack the Shorter Stacks
If you’re in a situation where you have position on shorter stacks, don’t be afraid to try and pick on them. They know that any hand that they play will likely be for all of their chips. This gives you a bit of leverage against them.
This is more of a riskier strategy as if they wake up with a hand or decide to call you down, you’re going to be battling for most of your stack. In many cases, these players are looking to find a spot to double, and often they will get out of your way assuming you have woke up with a hand.
Slow Down During Rush Periods
If you are a shorter stack when the money bubble bursts, slow down a bit if you can. Often, you will see the short stacks try to get their chips in with hopes of doubling up to battle for the final table. This results in multiple bustouts in a short period.
Larger field poker tournaments can lose enough players for a pay jump or two. For example, immediately following the bubble bursting in the WSOP Main Event, it’s common to see 100 players bust out within 30 minutes. In these situations, take an orbit or two off to let players knock themselves out.
Let Aggressive Players Flame Out
I can’t tell you how many times I will get deep in a tournament and someone decides that they will go big or go home. More often than not, they will play their way out of the tournament. When it is clear you have a player or two that’s playing too fast, get out of their way and let them bust themselves out. The exception is when you wake up with a hand that may let you double up.
What generally happens is that a hyper-aggressive player goes into the well too many times and gets caught by a patient player. They then become a short stack and then tilt their way out of the tournament. This allows you to ladder up.
A last resort option is simply blinding out. I’ve seen players sit back and let their stack dwindle while hoping that someone else will bust out. However, there may be times where this could be prudent. For example, if you are at an aggressive final table and think that someone could bust, you could sit back. Other players will sit back and hope that they catch lucky when they are in the blinds to get enough chips for another orbit of play. Another orbit gives enough hands for someone else to potentially bust.
Another time where you may opt to blind out is if you’re in a satellite tournament and you’re on the seat bubble. If there are multiple short stacks, sometimes it will be prudent to sit back and blind out in hopes that someone else busts. This is laddering your way to a tournament seat.
Blinding out is a last resort move that is basically giving up completely. You’d be better off picking a semi-reasonable hand and gamble rather than blind out.