The mid stage of a tournament generally runs from the end of the first break right through until the antes kick in.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations – you’ve done well to keep disciplined during the early stage, and you’ve been rewarded for it. Don’t get too comfortable though, it’s not all high fives and back-slaps just yet. There’s still a long way to go before you’ll be seeing a cent of that freeroll prize pool.
You still won’t be wanting to pushing all-in without the nuts or at least without knowing you have your opponent crushed, but you can start to open up a little and add hands like Ad Jc, Ac Ts, Kh Jc and Qc Jh to your arsenal when in position. You can even afford to very occasionally limp in with your Kh Th if you really feel like loosening up a bit more when you find yourself in late position.
So much about successful freeroll strategy is not concerned with what to do but rather with what not to do. One more thing you shouldn’t be doing at this stage of the tournament is getting flustered about where you’re placing out of the 784 runners remaining or how you stack up against the chip average. At this stage, none of that matters. You’re still trying to ride out the storm and consolidate the stack you do have.
Don’t trick yourself into rushing or playing mediocre hands because you don’t think you’re keeping up with the tournament. Keep your head screwed on. You can’t win the tournament yet, so there’s no use trying to.
You do, however, need to start to become a little more aggressive now. The chasers and the hopefuls will still be out there, but their numbers will have been greatly diminished, so it’s time to start introducing a few more techniques outside of raising and folding.
This is the perfect time to introduce the semi-bluff if you haven’t already. If you haven’t studied up on the art of semi-bluffing, get acquainted here.
But again, don’t fall into that trap of thinking you need to start rushing. A semi-bluff is, by definition, a calculated move made with a hand which has serious drawing potential. Don’t try stone cold bluffing just yet unless your opponent seems extremely weak and is obviously going to fold under pressure – it’s just not worth it at this point. You’ll need to put a bluff in here and there, but be smart about how and when.
The above advice can be forgotten of course when you find yourself extremely short-stacked. No matter what, if you find yourself sitting behind a stack of 1,500 with the blinds at 100/200 you’re going to have to make a move. There’s no point letting your stack drop to the point at which a bluff isn’t going to put pressure on opponents to fold. You’re better off being knocked out betting than bleeding yourself out of a tournament.
When the bubble approaches, the field will tend to tighten up. If you find yourself with a few extra chips to play with, you should look to capitalise on this by squeezing where appropriate.
The middle stage of a freeroll tournament is the time to step your play up a gear and look to capitalise on the inexperience of the weaker players still remaining in the tournament, put pressure on the short stacks and look to build your own stack slowly but surely through sold play.
It’s in the latter stages of the freeroll that things really start to heat up.