Survivor Poker

In what is shaping up to be my best year in poker thus far, I thought I’d write something about an uptick in popularity of a well-known tournament strategy.

Something that seems very common in tournaments, is when people who really can’t play poker try to win a tournament using other types of gaming theory. One of those strategies, I like to call “Survivor Poker.”

Poker, Survivor Style, is when a person realizes that he doesn’t know how to play, so rather than try to actually learn, he takes ridiculous chances to try to knock out players who can play in order to get to the money against diminished competition. While these Survivor types will play badly against basically everyone, decent player or not, they specifically target the best, most solid competition for their monkey games.

I know this is as old as time, but lately I’ve been running into a “group” of non-players who invade and take over small games with this strat, which makes winning tougher for a rock like me!

As I previously wrote, I have begun picking good hot & cold hands to go with, when pressed. I have also been setting up plays and trapping a lot more lately, hoping to get the Sucky-Survivor (SS) to commit all of his chips with a 2nd best hand (just sure he has “outdrawn” me). Instead of using hyper aggression to try to force SS to give up a hand, which doesn’t work, because he is looking in the mirror and thinks I’m bluffing every time, combined with his overall theory of eliminating the strong at his own peril, I am laying traps and landmines when he allows me to. Yes, sometimes I am the one eliminated when his 93 makes some kind of miracle against my set or overpair, but right now the cards are running well for me, and holding up their fair share of the time.

Since these SS’s cannot ever see the forest for the trees, it is relatively easy for me to get them to commit everything, especially in the beginning of a tournament when they are fastidiously sticking to their “elimination of the strong” strat. Later, when we are in the money, it takes a bit more creativity, as they realize they really have no clue about how to play poker, and they become much more passive and apt to fold, rather than simply raising all-in every hand with any two.

Another thing I’ve been doing quite a bit of lately, when the situation calls for it, is to play for 2nd place. This is a horrible overall strategy, but when we get deep into the money in a tournament where two terrible players have managed to get almost all of the chips and I have just a couple of blinds left, they tend to try to eliminate each other, while simply pressuring me out of every pot (when I know I can skate into second place money, I LET them).

It is not in my nature not to play to win, but sometimes I literally have like 500 chips left, and the other two maniacal players who will play for all of their chips with horrible hands have over 10k each, it is a good thing for me to let them kill each other off, instead of them doing the prudent thing and waiting for me to “blind out.” It is amazing that they are consistently willing to do this, while I am sitting in between them, 500 chips left to my name, at something like 100/200 blinds. I just can’t believe how often I slide right into a second place win, usually doubling, tripling or even more, my pay-out. It seems to happen more in Omaha derivatives than any other tournament game, as players who generally suck, REALLY suck at Omaha!

I hate going out with a whimper rather than a bang, but I’m alert enough to realize that my expectation is not winning, being so insanely outchipped, nor should I reasonably expect 2nd place. Fortunately for me, that is exactly what is happening!

A couple of nights ago, however, I was lucky enough to actually win a PLO8 event using this strat. Even now I can’t really believe it. I think I was the shortest stack, by far, when we reached the final table. I stayed out of the way of the SS’s who remained (which was the majority of the table). One guy really does try to play well, so if you are reading this, I’m not talking to you when I mention the SS’s at this table.

Anyway, I folded a lot of good PLO8 starting hands, due to the SS’s potting every betting round, every hand. I managed to keep from blinding out, but just barely. I would squeeze in a double or triple up here and there when I absolutely had to, but for the most part I just kept folding, which is okay for a rock like me. I’ve always maintained I’m a folding station :)

Soon the final nine became the final four and we were deep into the money. Natch, I was constantly just barely hanging on with a couple of blinds left and had to double, double, double every round or whenever I was in a hand, due to every pot being contested heavily pre-flop. Most of the time I will be eliminated in one of these desperate attempts, but this is my success story, not one of my many failures!

Once we were three handed, I had only 500 chips (and some change). I posted my big blind of 200, which was, naturally, immediately contested. I had a good hot & cold hand, something like A3xx with a suited ace. I more than doubled up, giving me a couple more rounds to go.

Sucky Survivors kept battling each other, me caught in between, until one of them was eliminated, while I kept chipping up. So once we got heads-up, he never really had a chance, other than pure luck, which wasn’t on his side. I think I had maybe 1500 chips to his 10,000, but when the cards even out and the SS had no clue how to play PLO8, he is in deep doggy doo doo.

Not knowing what to do, he became unbelievably passive and tight with hands he should have pushed and pressed his luck with hands he should have folded. They are simply lost when their miracles run out. They zig when they should zag, and vice versa. If zigging when I should be zagging happens to me quite a bit, a player who folds so easily and has tons of experience, it must be astronomically bad when it happens to someone who cannot play his way out of a wet paper bag.

Well, it only took a dozen hands, but I dispatched him pretty handily. He never really had a chance. He needed his miracle suck-outs, of course, but this time they stopped.

As a fitting anecdote to end this success story, I was playing in a morning tourney which included a lot of Russians. At first I didn’t understand what kind of glitch I had in the software and was scrambling like mad to fix the problem. Then I noticed the exact number of Russians at the table with me and figured out just why I had FIVE fold buttons!   ;)


About Felicia Lee

Poker, Writing
This entry was posted in Hold'em, Omaha Eight or Better, Poker, Tournament Poker. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Survivor Poker

  1. mrmiyagisan says:

    Another good blog. Gotta love the suckers who hardly even know how to play. I’m glad to see that their luck ran out enough for you to play some real poker and take the tourney down. Congrats.

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