For the second year in a row, 888poker will serve as the official sponsor of the World Series of Poker, which will kick off in early June. Under the terms of the sponsorship, we have the exclusive rights to run official WSOP satellites online, meaning we'll be sending players to Las Vegas all summer long.
To help them prepare for the journey, we created the "Road to the 2016 WSOP" series, which consists of useful articles ranging from things you should know at the Rio, to how to play events like the Tag Team and "Crazy Eights" events. Keeping with that, we've decided to focus a bit on two of the most anticipated events of the summer – Event #2 $565 Colossus and Event #14: $1,500 Millionaire Maker.
To help you prepare for these two events, which will draw crowds in the thousands, we touched base with our team of pros – including Kara Scott, Nicolau Villa-Lobos, Bruno Politano, and Sofia Lövgren – to get their advice on what you should and shouldn't do.
Advice for Amateurs
A lot of amateur players will be playing the Millionaire Maker and Colossus events at the WSOP. Both feature massive fields. What advice would you give an amateur who is looking to play in one or both of these events?
Scott: The Colossus event is a great way for recreational players to play in the World Series of Poker without the bigger price tag of the larger buy-in events. Because both the Colossus and the Millionaire Maker are re-entries, make sure you know how many buy-ins you're willing to risk before you sit down to play. For example, the Colossus has six starting flights, so you could technically play any or all of them. Knowing how much money you're willing to risk is an important part of bankroll management, particularly for recreational players.
Also, be aware that in the earlier flights, some players will definitely be playing a more gambling style in an effort to 'go big or go home and try again tomorrow'. Keep an eye on your table and try to identify which players are in which category. Ask yourself what is the best way to take their chips from them, given their style of play. If players are clearly trying to conserve their stack, you should certainly be able to put more pressure on them.
Villa-Lobos: Huge fields and lots of amateurs aiming for the top prize, which means you will have to dodge a lot of bullets. Try to stay calm, play your best, and try to win the coin flips [laughs].
Politano: Play tight. Don't lose your chips in the beginning. Take care with your chips in the first four levels!
Lövgren: Be cool and patient in the early hours. First of all, remember that tournament poker is like a marathon -- you need to be ready to play for hours. The starting fields are massive, but don't let it stress you that you have to build a stack very early. You will see that players will bust faster than you can imagine and without looking at the clock, you'll suddenly realise that the field size has shrunk very quickly. You just need to focus on the players at your table, your own stack and the blinds. As long as you have a playable stack, don't worry about the rest.
Also, study your opponents. In WSOP events, you'll have relative small starting stacks and after three hours you will often be down to a short stack, and it’s very important to know your opponents around the table. If you are dealt very bad cards and play few hands, then take the opportunity to look carefully at how other players play.
Try to find tells and notice which hands they go to showdown with. If you don't pay attention, you will lose valuable information and even miss if someone is making a terrible bet sizing, is on tilt, or is just playing complete air all the time. Study every hand played, find out how they play and try to exploit their weaknesses. If you see some players are opening a very wide range, and trying to win every pot, then look for good spots to float them. If you have a monster hand, you can just call in position and let them hang themselves.
Strategy for Larger Fields
How does strategy for these events differ from say, the WSOP Main Event or event a $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em event at the series?
Scott: The re-entry aspect of play will change things, but the size of the field actually isn't as important as you might think, aside from making the prize pool so much more appealing! It's important for amateurs who might be playing their first big tournaments to remember that you can only play the table you're sitting at. Try to ignore the fact that there are thousands of players to get through, because you're not expected to knock them all out yourself. All you can do is play your own hands at your own table, in the best way possible. Try not to keep your eyes on the player count as you can't control those numbers and it will only distract you. Focus on your table because the opponents sitting across from you, right then, are the only ones that really matter, until you get much deeper into the event.
Villa-Lobos: I think in the Millionaire Maker you start with 7,500 chips, and Colossus with 5,000, so you have a little bit more room for mistakes in the Millionaire Maker. The key point in all tournaments is to read your opponents well. The fact that in these tournaments you will find way more amateurs, you have to be careful with big bluffs since they sometimes won't fold top pair, or even middle pair. So, be aware of that.
Politano: The structure. The Main Event is perfect to play small ball -- small pots a lot of the time – but the $1,000 events are totally different. You need to play big pots soon, to go longer in the tournament.
Lövgren: Both the Colossus and Millionaire Maker will reach huge entry numbers. Since the structure is much deeper in WSOP Main Event, you get room to play more post flop, like in a cash game. You can play more creatively, and there is more skill involved. In $1,000 events the structure is quicker, and the majority of players will be down to a shallow stack after a few levels. You can't afford to make any mistakes since each chip will be worth so much, and you will need to manage your stack very carefully. You will need more luck in these and be a little bit more on the gambling side. I would say that Millionaire Maker and Colossus are more similar to $1,000 WSOP events, and you should look to play a quite similar strategy as in those.
Amateurs often make the mistake of blinding down a lot and not seeing the value of stealing pots. Be very attentive to the game all the time. That extra steal could do a lot for your stack when you later double-up. Amateurs will be very scared to call all-in, for fear of busting, so rather make some squeezes and steals while your stack has fold equity. It obviously will benefit you to later double-up when your stack is a bit larger than smaller.
Who's Playing these Events?
Do you plan to play the Millionaire Maker and Colossus?
Scott: I won't be in Vegas for these events as I plan to go out earlier, have a break in the middle, and then fly back for the last three weeks.
Villa-Lobos: No, I think this year I will come for the Crazy Eights and on.
Lövgren: Yes, I'll play it! There will be tons of recreational players playing it and a very soft field. Good value tournament and I might use a couple of bullets, yes.
If so, will you fire multiple bullets?
Villa-Lobos: If I would play, I would definitely fire as many bullets as needed to get to Day 2. It's a big tournament and pays a lot to the winner.
Politano: Max two bullets.
What are your thoughts on firing multiple bullets in events such as these?
Villa-Lobos: I really don't like to fire multiple bullets, but I think the structure is a little bit more "short" so it's good to know that I can re-enter
Lövgren: If you are a good player and can afford it, you should definitely do it. If there is one event you should look to fire multiple bullets in, then it's these kinds of tournaments! If you are ready to fire multiple bullets, you can gamble more trying to spin up a stack early. Being a big stack will benefit you a lot.
If you learn a player is unwilling or unable to re-enter, say they don't have the bankroll, is this information you'll exploit (i.e. putting pressure on them)?
Villa-Lobos: Of course! You should use it for all tournaments that you play. Poker is a game of people, and if you have this kind of information about a certain player you should definitely use it.
Politano: I will play my game, and I think I don't put pressure on him. I will pressure by bluffing normally, independent of their bullets. I don't think this when I'm playing.
Lövgren: Yes for sure! You can pull off that bluff on the river if you believe your opponent is money scared and doesn't want to play for his tournament life. If you know it’s a player who is ready to gamble and fire multiple bullets, then totally stay away from bluffing him!