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This review article will be based on the freezeout tournament format and focus on the concept of Freezeout Poker. There is no chance to rebuy (add-ons and re-buys are not included) is the main distinctive feature of tournaments. Tactics of the game at the early stages of Freezeout tournament

  • Tactics at the initial stages of Freezeout tournament
  • Tactics at the middle stages of Freezeout tournament
  • Tactics at the last stages of Freezeout tournament

During a freeze-out of the tournament if a player loses his total stack, regardless of the stage of the competition, then he leaves the game without any chance to rebuy or restore his stack.

In online poker freeze-out tournaments are popular. It is for this reason that freeze-out events are considered more challenging with higher risk.

Buy-in is the only but required cash payment. Just to let you know that WSOP (The World Series of Poker) and EPT ( European Poker Tour) are held in the freeze-out. In freeze-out tournaments, the player receives the suitable stack and it is his entire bankroll for the tournament.

Freeze-out format in poker obliges players to use specific strategies and tactics. Professionals choose a tight style for the initial stages of such tournaments – they avoid all-ins and large bets, as well as large reraises. All this is due to the fact that in the freeze-out there is no way to restore the stack in case of defeat.

Features of the freeze-out format in poker


Freezeout is a classic tournament. The biggest poker events take place in this format.

Main features:

  • At the beginning of the event, all players receive the same number of chips
  • Having lost the entire stack, the participant leaves the tournament
  • In this format, you can not make a addon and rebuy

In such competitions, the value of the stack is high. Poker players behave much more cautiously than in rebuy tournaments. Especially in the early stages.

Tactics for the initial stages of the Freezeout tournament

At the initial stages of the freeze-out of the tournament, it is better to abandon all sorts of aggressive decisions. Do not make rash and risky big bets, at this stage there are still too many opponents who are ready to call your bets.
As mentioned above – play tight, carefully monitor your cards and the behavior of your opponents – their reaction to the strength of pocket cards, pay attention to your position at the table relative to the button.

Tactics of the game in the middle stages of Freezeout tournament

At the middle stages of the tournaments, inexperienced or weak participants are usually already eliminated. More experienced and stronger players remain in the game, choosing a tight-aggressive style of play. Recall that there are no add-ons and re-buys and no one wants extra risks.
Players only bet when they have a strong enough hand. Very few calls occur unless the participants have a strong hand. Note that small pots are played at this stage. According to the scheme – “slowly but surely” you can increase your own stack.
Some experienced poker players resort to aggressive behavior in the course of the draws – making a minimum number of check and call decisions. In tournaments with a large number of tables (MTT-tournament) with a significant reduction in their stack, players resort to push-fold strategy they fold or all-in preflop.

Tactics of the game at the last stages of Freezeout tournament

In the final stages of the tournaments, the prize stage begins. With each elimination of losers, the size of the main prizes increases considerably, as does the heat, which must be kept in check by each player to avoid making mistakes one step away from victory.
When it is already very close to the cherished goal, you can no longer find loose players at the poker tables. Participants behave as accurately as possible, there is a real scan of each opponent and his behavior. The most experienced and attentive to the reactions of the opponent players can afford a carefully calculated bluff, for sure they know that the opponent will fold.
It should be noted that in this part of the tournament, the sizes of blind mandatory bets – blinds – have been significantly increased. It becomes clearly large, relative to the stacks of participants themselves.
Now is the time when a strong preflop starting hand can become a reason for a big bet, provoking opponents to not wait for the flop and fold. Since even the bank collected from the first bets at these stages is already a good win.
Let’s sum up – Freezeout Poker really obliges players to observe special rules of conduct and strategies in the early – initial stages of the competition. This is the time to use a tight style and extra caution.
As for the final part and the middle stage, everything here is the same as in the classic rebuy version, because rebuy and add-on do not happen “when you want”, there are clear time limits for it, and by the middle of the tournament the opportunities to rebuy are already over.

Game Tips & Tricks


Tight play in the early steps

The early stage of the tournament is the time of elimination of beginners and maniacs. It’s only worth disturbing their fun in the rare situations where the table is clearly in your favour. There are a few principles you need to follow to avoid being among the first to drop out:

  • Open bidding with good hands.
  • Play passively with high odds.
  • Avoid bluffs.
  • Go all-in only with monster hands.

Basic advice for playing in the early stages. In any unclear situation, fold.

Aggressive play as the stack gets smaller

When there are enough chips for 50 big blinds or less, you need to slightly adjust your actions:

  • Forget about passive play. There won’t be enough pot odds and implied short stack odds.
  • Act more aggressively. More raises, resteals, semi-bluffs with a high chance of gaining.
  • Narrow the spectrum. Since passively playing marginal hands is no longer worth it, small pockets and connectors can be folded in most situations, with the exception of stealing the blinds.

At this stage, the stakes relative to the stack will be high. Often post-flop aggression ends up all-in. This should be taken into account when c-betting or bluffing later streets.

Energetic short stack play

With a stock of 15-30 BB chips, the range of possible solutions for a freezeout participant in poker is narrowed. General recommendations for short stack play:

  • Put pressure on outsiders and tight opponents.
  • Against loose opponents and chip leaders, play only with top hands.
  • To use position. Steal blinds, resteals against players with high 3-bet fouls.

At this stage, many hands end up all-in pre-flop.

ICM at the final stage of the tournament

ICM (Independent Chip Model) is a mathematical model that shows the player his fair share of the prize pool. This setting takes into account several factors:

  • The stack size of all participants in the tournament.
  • The number of players remaining.
  • Structure of prize distribution.

Using this model, you can calculate the mathematical expectation of any action in the tournament. ICM becomes most relevant in the final stages of the event.

It is practically impossible to calculate the profit of an all-in in MTTs on your own. But this skill is trained with the help of special calculators. Analyzing your actions at the push-fold stage after the played session, you can avoid mistakes in similar situations in the future.

Pros and cons of freeze-out

Freezeout is a poker classic. But this type is not for everyone. The disadvantages of competition include:

  • Lack of add-on. Losing your stack means you’re out of the event for good. Many rooms solve this problem with re-entry tournaments. There it is possible to re-enter after a knockout.
  • Lack of action. Due to the high cost of mistakes, many participants behave too carefully. This annoys the players who have come to have fun, fighting for the pot and going all-in every third hand.

Advantages of freezeout in poker:

  • Fair distribution of prizes. All participants have equal starting conditions. The higher the place, the greater the reward.
  • Clear structure. Suitable for beginner players.
  • Classic format. The main events of the biggest tournament series are held in freesave mode. By getting to one of them, the player has a better chance of winning.

Online rooms in many tournaments combine freezeouts with other formats within the same event.


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Kristaps is an expert in the field of online casinos. Since the age of 20, he has been interested in casino games; poker and blackjack are his favorites. Thanks to his studies and work experience, he has found himself a gambling critic and analyst. He likes to share his own authentic experience with the audience, so his articles are very informative. Kristaps' lifelong dream is to participate in a poker tournament in Las Vegas.



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