Tournament Chip Leader

Intermediate Chip Leader Strategy for Poker Tournaments

Chip Leader Advanced Theory

An advanced concept I would like to share about being chip leader is related to why it is correct to bully other players when you have a big stack. Besides the fact that they are trying to get into the money by avoiding confrontation(which allows you to steal more).

It is also mathematically correct to push when you have the largest stack. Even with an inferior hand. At the start of a tournament everyones chips are worth exactly the amount of the buy in. But chip values change when someone becomes chip leader. The math I have used is quite complex so let me show you an example of this instead.


It's a typical sit-n-go that started with 10 players. It is now four handed and only the top three players will get paid. There are 10,000 chips in play. I have 9,700 chips, and everyone else only has 100 each.

Prize pool $10,000. 
Payout=
$5,000 for 1st
$3,000 for 2nd
$2,000 for 3rd

My 9,700 represents 97% of all chips. That doesn't mean it represents 97% of the prize pool since the best I can get is first place which is $5000. Since 9,700 chips is not equal to $9,700. This means each of my individual chips are worth less than they should be. And each of my opponents individual chips are worth more.


The above is an exaggerated version of a typical scenario. But the principle is the same anytime you out-chip your opponents. Especially late in a tournament. The more chips you have compared to your opponents the less each of your individual chips is worth.

The same principle would apply if I had 4000 chips and everyone else had 2000. Besides the mind set players have of getting in the money. The math is another reason to push hard stealing blinds as much as possible! The 2000 you are risking is worth less than the 2000 they will be risking if they confront you.

You will have a chance to pick up blinds if not confronted. And you will have the right odds with a hand like J8 against a hand like AK if you are confronted.


This concept applies much less in early stages. The chip value is pretty close to what it should be. I want to emphasize this theory applies more to late stages of a tournamentDo not start overplaying hands and pushing early on if you become chip leader. I recommend tight solid play early on and in middle stages even if you are biggest stack at the table. And then stealing when the blinds are big and juicy in late stages.

Also note that you do not have to be the biggest stack for this to theory to apply. Just ahead of over whoever you are going to be up against in the hand. So if I have the actual chip leader on my right and two smaller stacks on my left. As long as the chip leader folds that particular hand it makes me the biggest stack among the remaining players in the hand and the same math applies to chip value. Hopefully this has helped you jump ahead of the competition and I wish you lots of luck.

Here is strategy for
Late Stages and being Chip Leader
Sit-n-Go Strategy Overview
Early and Middle Stages
How to Play a Short Stack
No Limit Holdem Strategy Section
Online Poker Tells
Adjusting Play
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