Poker Tournament Minimum Cashes

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How to Stop Mini Cashing in Online Poker Tournaments and Break Through

Poker tournaments are frustrating. You need skill, luck, and strategy to get a deep run. Even with ‘perfect’ play, you will bust more often than you hit the final table.

Going through a run where you reach the money, though fall short of the big bucks, is a common complaint. Minimum cashes are 2x (or lower) your buy-in. We all min-cash sometimes, this page covers the key things to think about if you are failing to go deep too often.

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Stop Mini Cashes in Online Poker Tournaments

Poker Tournament Pay Out Structure: Why Min-Cashes Exist

Whenever you enter a poker tournament, one of the first things you look at should be the pay out structure. In most cases, the size of those prizes increase the higher you finish (there are exceptions, such as 50:50 events, where half of the field receive an equal pay out).

For example, in a large multi-table tournament with thousands of players taking part the pay out structure could look like this:

  • Winner – 13% of the prize pool (more than 300x the buy in)
  • 2nd place – 7.5% of the prize pool (nearly 180x the buy in)
  • 3rd to 9th places – spread from 10x to 100x
  • 10th to 360th – Diminishing prizes from 9x (final 2 tables) to 2x
  • Min Cash Players - 361st to 480th – 0.06% of the prize pool (around 1.5x the buy in)

As you can see from the typical pay out amounts above, there is a massive premium on making the final table. If you’re one of those players who finished between 361st and 480th, you have made a profit on the event, but you’ve barely covered your buy-in.

That’s great if you mix in those min cashes with other bigger wins, but if you are a regular min casher without the bigger wins, you are not going to make progress.

Running Deep in Poker Tournaments

Why Am I A Regular Tournament Min Casher?

A key reason that most players can make the cash often but be an overall losing player is that too much of their focus is on making the money paying spots.

For them, a poker tournament is all about reaching the final 480 (in the above example). Then, having made the cash, trying to win it.

However, there is a massive flaw with that plan.

In concentrating on making the cash, you will probably be far too risk averse when you approach the bubble. Some players will ask the question –

‘Why put your chips on the line when you are close to making the money?’

This is the wrong mentality. When playing a poker tournament, your focus should be on winning the event. You need to take risks with positive expectation over time, and be willing to risk going broke to accumulate a big stack that can see you to the late stages.

Taking Advantage of the Bubble:

Consider the following example: You are on the bubble of a poker tournament, and you have the second biggest stack in the event of 3,000 players and are sitting in the big blind with AJo. In the small blind is the tournament leader, who just has you covered. The player is very loose and shoves widely. Once again, they shove. Do you call or fold? If you call and win, you are the clear chip leader and have a great shot at the big money. If you call and lose you are out on the bubble and don’t cash.

In the above example, you have to call every time. A risk averse player would fold here to guarantee making the cash. But that would be missing an amazing opportunity to have a shot at winning.

Strategy to Make that Big Tourney Cash More Often

Many players will have a real fit or fold mentality in tournaments especially around the bubble. For example, many players will simply call with a hand such as AK and then shove when they hit either of the two cards on the flop.

With the right stack sizes (up to 20 BB or more) you can certainly be shoving here pre-flop. You’ve got fold equity, meaning your opponent will simply fold their initial raise, and if they do call, you are in good shape. If you flat call, the many times you miss, you’ll be folding, and when you do hit, that scare card A or K might scare off your opponent from committing any more chips. The first approach will see you making the big cash more often, the second is a safety-first option which will see you min cashing more often.

When playing tournaments, aim to be the aggressor in most situations. This will stand you in good stead and see those oversized pay outs within your reach.

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