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How to play Freezeout Tournaments

FreezeOut tournaments are the most common format of poker. And why not, if it’s a last-man standing event? Freezeouts are one-time buy-in, no re-buy, no add-on tournaments, where once you lose your chip stack, you bid farewell to the tournament.

Thus, it makes sense to learn a little about freezeouts before you sit at a table, and unexpectedly (but courteously, of course,) asked to leave it before you know what has happened with you.

Freezeouts are good for both sharks and fish, and have nothing to do with who’s got more money, unless it’s their chip stack, and they bought in at the start of the tournament. Let’s see how:

For Sharks

Sharks are the pros. The veterans. They know how to play, what all to play, and when. No tournament is bad for them. But there are a few reasons why freezeouts are better than other tournaments, or cash games.

  1. It’s better for sharks to restrict the urge of the fish, to call on a slight hunch of having a good hand. Freezeouts maintain a kind of pressure on the fish.
  2. Fish who have more moolah than they can handle, may not re-buy their chipstack, so it keeps the shark safer from such fish.
  3. Freezeouts allow only a limited amount of grinding. So, a shark is secure that way against other sharks.
  4. It becomes difficult for fish just trying to get lucky. One bad move, and do svidaniya.

It’s all about pressure in poker. Sharks may very easily maintain that against those that are cash rich, but experience-poor. It won’t be fair for the fish, to call freezeout tournaments a shark vs. shark game, but until you have experience, fish, life is unfair.

For The Fish

The fish are the newbies. The novices. Against sharks, no game or tournament is cake walk for them. But freezeout tournaments provide a bit of an edge in favor of the fish, and turns the scale of balance in their favor, in respect to a few factors.

  1. It gives the fish the much needed experience. No other tournament or game will teach the fish like freezeouts (if they hold on to their chips that long, that is).
  2. The fish get to learn to handle various chip stack sizes. After a while, the chip stacks rise, and become unmanageable. Pull your socks up, fish!
  3. The fish get a chance to play under pressure. Not much, just that as soon as their chipstack is over, their game is over. No God-mode, no cheat-code.
  4. The blinds increase after every few rounds. That helps the fish micro-manage their finances. Well, at least those on the table. Someone who has experience playing 5-10 blinds will learn how to play with 100-200 blinds.

Freezeouts do not have anything to do with how much money you have. Unless it is plastic money, and it is round in shape, and it has the casino’s logo on it (poker chip, for a want of a simpler term). Once you’ve lost your chips, you’re done with the tournament.

For the Casino

Isn’t every game in favor of the casino? Well, not freezeouts. The best part of the freezeout is the one-time buy in. Thus, no multiple rakes. The house always wins. Not!

Freeze-Outs do not allow a casino to rake in, each time a player buys-in (because there are no re-buys, remember?). FreezeOuts also affect the longevity of the game. As there are no re-buys, the matches should get over sooner, but because players play diligently, and cautiously, it affects the time spent on a table, and thus, the casino.

Thus, it is without doubt, that be a fish or a shark, freezeouts are for everyone (except the casino, that is, thank the Lord!).



Ankit Malhotra

Ankit Malhotra is an erstwhile practising advocate and an active poker enthusiast. He is professionally a content consultant, who happens to be a published poet as well.