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Freeroll Strategy - The Final Table

I like to play this strategy at the final table.

If you have used my ‘First 90 Minutes’ followed by ‘The Last Hour’ strategy you should either be out early or at the final table. You now need to focus on getting up the money ladder as far as possible. The real money is in the top few spots and that is where you want to finish. It means that you look at every pot and work out a way to win it. It doesn’t mean you will play wildly or make hopeless calls with bad hands. Position, stack size and action are important.

Where are you in stack size? This will determine your style of play. You will be one of the following:

 - Serious short stack. The next round of blinds will put you all-in.
 - Short Stack. You can go 2 or 3 rounds of blinds.
 - Cruising. You are middle chip or higher.
 - Big Stack. You are the top or near the top in chip amount.

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Serious Short Stack Strategy:

 - You have 2 plays. Fold or go all-in.
 - Let’s start with being on the button or up to 2 places off the button. From late position you can play based on the action in front of you. If there are 2 or less players in the pot in front of you and neither player went all-in then you can go all-in with any pair or any Ax. You may also want to consider any single face card. As more players are in the pot in front of you the more selective you want to be. If there are 3 or more players in then limit your pairs to 88 and up, Ax, Axs and Kxs.
 - From mid and early position consider going all-in with any pair or any single face card, suited or not. The requirement is no one in front of you has gone all-in. Let them bust out and you move up in the money.
 - As an alternate strategy, if there is a lot of action on each hand, just fold and let them bash each other about. If you get AA or KK consider a play but fold everything else.

Short Stack Strategy:

 - You now can make some plays. Waiting for good hands is something to consider. It only takes one win to make you a big stack. All plays will require an all-in or a substantial raise. Consider 40% of your stack or a single size raise, which ever you are comfortable with. Consider in your decision who has already committed, bigger stacks or shorter stacks. Also consider position. You can play more hands if you are first to act with few players behind you.
 - For hands to play, AA and KK warrant a raise. 40% or more of your stack. An all-in in front of you is a signal to fold if someone has called it. Otherwise you should go all-in also and hope to get heads up. Other hands to consider are a pair 88 and up for a nice raise. Fold if you are re-raised or someone goes all in on you. For suited cards with one being a face card and no more than a 2 gap, you want to have a straight, flush and straight flush possibility, you can also put in a single raise or even just limp if there is a lot of limping in front of you. If someone follows you with a move that would put you all in you should consider folding. If there is a move that would put you all-in and another that calls then you should definitely fold these hands with maybe the exception of QQ. Again, let others go out and move up in the standings. The last type of hand you can play is Axs. If you don’t flop a 4 flush or better you should check/fold unless you think you can bluff your way out.

Cruising:

In this spot you can basically take two paths. Play a lot of hands or fold a lot of hands.

For folding a lot of hands:

 - You can use the Short Stack strategy with an adjustment of bigger raises and less folding to heat. Use the same hand selection but raise or call raises to everything you play. No need to be shy in this position.

For playing a lot of hands:

 - Now, if you want to play a lot of hands you will be limping a lot. Challenge all short stacks that limp. If you can put them all-in and get heads up then do it. Use any single face card, suited or not, any pair and any 1 or 2 gap cards, suited or not. This is wild play and I do not recommend it unless the table is very tight. In that case play like a maniac until someone wakes up and challenges you.

Big Stack:

 - The first think you should do is challenge the smallest stacks when you can get heads up. Make them go all-in or just call their all-in bet with just about any two cards.
 - For all other players you should be putting in 3x-5x raises before the flop if there are limpers and call the same with good cards. No need to loose a lot of chips with bad cards. Pairs 88 and up, suited paint and Axs. Fold everything else. Consider position and be aggressive if first or last to act. Raising in the middle is something I don’t like because a late position player may whip-saw you with a raise that gets re-raised. Being first to act sets the tone and last to act states you are in command the rest of the hand.

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The final few players:

With 3-5 players left let others knock each other out. You should have no problem with playing heads up short-stacked. You can play single face cards and just about any pair. All hands should be raised 4x or more or 50% of your stack or more. The finish line is in site and you want to win. At the same time you cannot be a wimp. You will get some good money relative to your buy-in no matter what. Again, if the other players are going at it then just sit out, otherwise be aggressive.

The final two:

This is it. Raise almost every hand, fold if you are re-raised with a weak hand. Fold any hand that doesn’t have at least an 8xs or 2 cards 8 and up. You are trying to set up the kill. Don’t go all-in pre-flop unless you have been re-raised and you have a good hand like AA or KK. What you really want to happen is to have a hand like 85s and flop a full house, trips or a straight. Post-flop play with a hand like that is a slow play hand. Only bet on the river if no action has come your way. You may be able to get some chips that way.

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I welcome your comments and actual results using this strategy.  I make no warranty that it will work, but I will affirm that I have used it myself with success under the conditions I played (those specified above). Your mileage may vary.

- Fred Parker

Fred's orignal post in our forums - Please post your comments and results here.