5 Strategies for Deepstack Poker Tournament Play

A common question we get from LearnWPT students is:

"How should I play the early stages of a poker tournament when stacks are deep?"


During the first few levels of a tournament when stacks are still deep, do you sit back and only play premium hands, or should you be mixing it up by playing more hands to try and build a big stack?

Not Sure How to Play Deepstacked?

We got you covered! The team of world class poker professionals at LearnWPT - The Official Poker Training Platform of The World Poker Tour® - are here with expert strategies to immediately upgrade your deepstack poker tournament play.

LearnWPT Instructors Katie Stone and Tony Dunst took a break from the action at the$2,500 WPTDeepStacks Championship at Thunder Valley Casino Resort to talk about some common mistakes they see players make when playing in deepstacked poker tournaments.

5 Key Poker Strategy Tips To Play Better in Deepstacked Poker Tournaments:

The early stages of a championship poker tournament with super deep structures like you find on the World Poker Tour require a specific strategy shift. It’s not uncommon for the average stack to equal 100 times the current big blind level or more during the first few hours in the tournament. Players typically start with 30,000 chips with blinds at 100/100 and 1 hour long levels and you need to change your strategy for these situations.

Anytime you find yourself in a deepstack poker tournament situation remember these 5 Strategies for Deepstacked Play:

Strategy Tip #1 - Adjust your First-In Ranges
Strategy Tip #2 - Be Cautious with 1-Pair Hands
Strategy Tip #3 - Don’t Call too Loose Preflop
Strategy Tip #4 - Attack Limpers
Strategy Tip #5 - Use Board Texture as Your Guide

Now... let's dive deeper into, well, deepstack poker and review some in-depth poker strategy to help you incorporate LearnWPT’s 5 Strategies for Deepstacked Play:

So, What Exactly is Deepstack Poker?

Deepstack: adjective
deep·stack \ ˈdēp ˈstak \

1) For a poker situation to be considered deepstacked from a strategic perspective the standard opening raise size has to be 4% or less than the effective stack for the table, typically when the effective stack is 100BB or more. Think of the effective stack in terms of the smallest stack between players in a poker hand, or the most you can win or lose in a specific hand of poker given stack sizes.

For example, if the effective stack for a hand at your table is 10,000 chips with blinds at 100-100 and the standard raise for the table preflop is 300 chips, the game is considered deepstacked.

If for some reason the average raise size before the flop at your specific table was 1,000 chips with the same 10,000 chip effective stacks and 100-100 blinds, then the game would be considered shallow.

Need a Refresher or Effective Stack Basics?:

A deepstacked championship structure allows you to exercise far greater patience, however you can also make critical mistakes early in the tournament. Your approach to deepstack poker tournament play should be to maximize chances of making a deep run with prudent aggression, while protecting against losing big chunks of your stack in spots that are avoidable.

🏋️ Understanding Relative Hand Strength

Watch this Strategy Episode from Nick Binger to learn key strategic factors for determining how your poker hand strength can change during the course of a given poker hand based on an opponent's actions and likely range of hands.

Understanding how your hand strength shifts during a hand is an essential component of winning deepstacked poker play.

Factors that Affect Relative Hand Strength:

  • Number of Opponents - The more players you face in a hand = the strong average hand at showdown. Assume 2-pair or better when getting action in multiway pots
  • Board Texture - Coordinated boards such as T♠8♠7♥ connect with your opponents in deepstacked multiway pots far more often than dry or scattered flops such as K♦2♠2♣. Two-pair combinations are also far more likely on coordinated boards
  • Stack Depth - You need a big hand to continue with when the money starts going in on multiple streets and stacks are deep. When you do flop a big hand avoid slowplaying unless you are heads up vs a single opponent on a dry board

Deepstack Advice from An All-Time Great 🐐

Who better to learn the nuances of deepstacked poker tournament play than the incomparable Vanessa Selbst?

In this Strategy Episode Vanessa outlines critical strategic adjustments to ensure a balanced approach to maximizing EV in multiway pots on coordinated flops that you can apply to your next tournament or cash game session.

Vanessa’s Advice for Multiway Pots:

  • Study the WPT GTO Trainer so you know the default strategy
  • Identify opponents who deviate from GTO to exploit
  • Reduce c-betting frequency and focus on range advantage
  • Add speculative hands to preflop first-in range to stop from being exploited
  • Bet value hands only on coordinated boards - especially against sticky opponents

Are All 1-Pair Hands Created Equal?

In this Strategy Episode Nick Binger breaks down 3 fundamentals for deepstack poker tournament play including:

  1. How to label players in the Blinds
  2. Raising multiple limpers to take the initiative
  3. How to rank 1-Pair hands by class to eliminate the need for guesswork at the table

We hope you enjoyed these free strategies for deepstack play in tournaments from Team LearnWPT. Be sure to follow us or subscribe below for more FREE poker content.

We Want To Hear From You!


Please share your success and let us know how these strategies changed your game. Follow us Twitter @learnwpt, Facebook, and Instagram or send us an email to [email protected] and you may be featured in upcoming LearnWPT content!

Good luck and good playing,
-Team LearnWPT

Have Questions about LearnWPT?
 Send an email to our Support Team at [email protected] or click the red CONTACT US button and they will be happy to help.



Posted on Tags