Small buy-in live tournament strategy

English professional Sinem "Sin" Melin shares his strategy for playing live tournaments with small buy-ins.

It's great to dream of playing an expensive tournament like the main event of the WSOP, EPT or WPT. But the buy-ins for such tournaments are too big. The available poker tournaments for most of the ns are £ 10 rebuys and £ 50 freezeouts. If we are good at them, then we can take part once a month in tournaments for £ 300 or even get selected to tournaments within the UKIPT series or GUKPT, in one of which Sinem Melin took ninth place (two relatively cheap regular tournament poker series for UK residents - translator's note).


I started playing poker over six years ago when I was a waitress at the Big Bluff club in London. We played only on weekends, in our free time. Buy-ins to tournaments were £ 50- £ 200.

I almost always look at how profitable the tournament will be for me. It is very good when there is a guarantee, but you shouldn't pay attention to such things as saving on hotel accommodation.

Sweat control

If you play cheap tournaments, all too often you can get six callers, which you almost never see in expensive tournaments. Currently, nobody wants to fold in cheap tournaments. I really like it, but sometimes it is very difficult to understand where we are - behind or ahead. The best strategy in the early stages is pot control. Watch out for the bet sizing of your opponents. Some players who are too tight will bet too much, signaling that they have a strong hand.

In cheap tournaments, I very often 3-bet with good hands to reduce the number of callers and know where I am in the hand. But with a hand like AJ, for example, I don't want to inflate the pot and will often call.


Re-entry tournaments allow players to play more relaxedly as they know they have at least one more chance to enter the game if they crash. In some cases I do the same, in some I don’t. It seems to me that this is excluded in satellites. Re-entry changes the attitude of players in such tournaments towards top pairs that they will never fold. Often you have to play very tight and wait for a hand. I remember a recent tournament at a poker club Dusk till Dawn for £ 300. I get AQ in my hands and several callers before me. Usually I squeeze, but in such tournaments, there is still a possibility of re-entry. Without hitting the flop, I will have to check and end up losing a lot of chips.


It is very difficult to bluff in cheap tournaments. I remember GUKPT London where I went to the final table playing almost all the time with 20 big blinds. I haven't bluffed for all three days. If you really rarely enter the game, your raise always seems reasonable in the eyes of the players. If you raise with 20bb, you must be prepared to go all the way if you get 3-bet. Don't worry about the average stack in the tournament - only yours matters. I often ask, what is the average stack - I answer that I don't even look at this indicator.


I always aim to win the final table, but often the structure is so fast that there is almost no post-fall play. Playing tight makes more money. It is very foolish to play big pots with a chip leader early in a tournament.

Some players try to hit the money or make the final table with 5-10BBs - they are your goal for getting chips.

Another great way to get information at the table is by interacting with the players. If you are in a conversation with one of them, the cards were dealt and he stopped the conversation, he probably got a good hand and is already thinking about how to play it. Chat with your opponents and get even more information about them.

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