I played in my first live tournament at the casino Saturday night, not a bad turn out, 61 entered. Starting chip stack 15,000.

I have been playing online for about 5 or 6 years now and something started to happened that was not prepared for. Toward the end of the event it was either All in or fold, no was even trying to limp or raise. I was ~4th out of ~11 people judging from the chip stacks at my table and the other table.

The blinds were ~4k/2k (20 minute levels) there were 5 people (Starting number was 10) at my table and 6 at the other, which was causing the blinds to come much more frequently, which in turn were eating up my stack.

My question is how to play when the table is all in or fold.

I noticed that compared to online when people were calling all in they actually had something, not to say some were not bluffing, however when the cards were shown it was AK against AQ or AJ or a high pair.

Couple times I actually had good hands, I would raise, normally about 4X the blind and everyone would fold, couldn't get a caller, however when they did get hands they would call (just didn't happen to me)so risking a bad hand on a raise was something I was not willing to do.

My stradegy was to just sit tight until I got a good hand, which didn't come around as much as I would have liked, I was able to recover my blinds by going all in when I did have something but about 30 minutes into that I was not longer 4th.

Is there a strategy or concept when playing in a live tournament, or was this maybe a fluke and not the norm?

"All in or fold" Game.

  • 1
    Stack size would be real important here.
    – paparazzo
    Oct 1, 2018 at 20:05
  • @paparazzo you mean how much I had? Oct 1, 2018 at 20:06
  • Looks like average stack at this point would have been 83k or 21bigs.
    – Buh Buh
    Oct 2, 2018 at 7:33
  • It varied, at the start of the 13th round there were 1.3 million in play, I had about ~150k, others at the table smaller around 30k, and some double what I had. I was right in the middleish Oct 2, 2018 at 13:06
  • how fast were the blinds going up? I played in a live tournament with 20 minute blinds and it was all-in fold toward the end as well. The short-mid size stacks get pushed out by the quickly increasing blinds.
    – Clarko
    Oct 3, 2018 at 1:50

1 Answer 1


This all-in or fold play is most likely due to the fact that blind levels were moving fairly quickly for a live tournament.

20 minutes is only enough time to play around 10-15 hands, depending on how fast the hands are going and how fast the players are playing. If there are players stalling or otherwise taking a lot of time, this number could be even lower.

as paparazzo mentioned in the comments, stack size is the important factor here.

If average stack was 83k, that means that most players had less than that, which would be less than 20 big blinds

the players who are 5th-11th would have even shorter stacks than 83k. This does not leave a lot of room to "play poker" because any raise pre-flop would commit a large portion of any players stack.

This is why the players are going all-in or folding, they do not want to raise (commiting over 1/4 of their stack) and see a flop that does not connect with their hand. A tournament with a slower structure would leave more time for the players to play hands and acquire/lose chips.

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