The final table is where every poker player wants to end up in a big tournament. Once there, you should be facing all experienced tournament players. This will require you to take a certain attitude toward the table as well as a certain unique strategy.
When I make it to the final table, I almost always place within the top three. The way I like to play the final table differs greatly from all the other blind levels. Let's talk about crushing the final table.
Study Your Opponents
I usually don't study my opponents in the early rounds since so many players are moved to and from my table. At the final table, though, all of the players around you are most likely great tournament players. Very rarely will you run into a fish who caught a mad streak of cards and ended up at the final table, although I've seen it happen before.
For the first ten or so hands, play extremely tight. Get a feel for the table and how people are playing. Poker brings out different emotions in different people, and you must learn the current state of every player. Have you spotted a player who's loosened up? Is there a large stack leaning on people? Is someone to your left folding almost every hand?
More than likely you'll notice mostly tight players at the final table. You'll also run across a few people utilizing the maniac tournament approach. Identify these players and adjust your play accordingly.
In essence, final-table play involves playing the player and not the cards. A lot of times I'll raise really tight players with next to nothing in the blinds. I'll also be very careful of my pre-flop starting selection against maniacs.
Wait It Out
The final table will bring about some of the best poker you'll witness. This is simply because most of these players feel grateful to be there. They'll be on their best behavior and play the best hands possible.
If you spot a maniac at the table, let him take a few people out. Sit back and feel your way around the table until a few people are gone. There will come a time when you make your move, but don't go out unless you have a good hand. Conversely, if the table is really tight, you may want to take a few risks and rain on the blinds. A good tournament player's motto for the final table should be "playing the player, not the cards."
Luck and the Final Table
I would be lying if I said you could finish first at the final table without luck. It's impossible. Most players at the final table are great tournament players, meaning that more than likely it will be a dogfight for each ascending place. I could sit here all day and preach to you about starting hands, but by now we all know which hands to play.
I'm here to tell you the secret to final-table play: make use of every edge available to you. Spot the tight players and maniacs. Adjust your play to each individual player. Although you want to play tight, you'll need to take some calculated risks. The best way to beat the final table is to look for any edge possible by analyzing each precious detail available to you. Watch how each individual bets and how much he bets each hand. Study each showdown at the table as if your life depended on it. The final table is all about feel, not about cards.
I hope you've benefited from this article. Good luck and see you @ the tables.
Not a Member Yet?
If you have forgotten your PokerSchool password you can reset it by following these steps here.:
(Note: your PokerSchool password must be at least 8 characters long, and begin with a number 1-9.)