Texas Hold-em Double Up – What is it?

April 17, 2020
Double Up Poker - What is it?

If you’re not already familiar with Bovada’s Texas Hold-em Double Up – Sit and Go Tournaments – it’s a good way to consistently “double up” your money with some basic poker skills, a little patience, and a good strategy in mind. The general idea is that you join a table (6 total anonymous players) and only have to make the top three to double up your buy-in amount. That’s right…you can get 3rd place in a tournament of 6 and still double up your money. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it usually is. Although there is probably more than one reliable approach – and no one-size-fits-all approach since every table will look and feel a little different – the strategy I’m about to present works pretty well most of the time. Hopefully your poker instincts are good enough to adjust when you run into streaks of bad cards or weird tables with an imbalance of passive vs aggressive players.

Here’s a general idea: Again, you’ll be seated at a table of 6 players. They’re all assigned a number 1-6 (not a name) and you won’t know anything about anyone you’ve been seated with until you start to get a feel for how everyone is playing. Everyone starts with a chip count of 1500. Blinds start at 10/20 and increase every few minutes. Unless you get knocked out right away (which you shouldn’t if you use this strategy), games last anywhere between about 30 and 60 minutes. You’ll occasionally find yourself sitting at a tighter playing table (i.e. everyone else playing conservatively just like you will be after reading this). Those tend to last a little bit longer because everyone’s doing what they can to hang in there to make the top 3.

Buy-ins start at $5.00 and go all the way up to $100.00. Keep in mind that the lower amounts are often easier to win for a couple of reasons. 1) People are more likely to carelessly throw around their chips and 2) It’s easier to play more naturally when you’re not as stressed about the possibility of losing your money.

By playing the strategy I’ve outlined below, I tend to win about 8 out of 10 of the double up poker tournaments I enter. We all know that no matter how solid your skill and strategy, you’re bound to run into some bad luck and lose that all-in pocket Aces (with one Ace in the community cards) to someone with a full house, straight, or a flush.

Side note: If you’re an aggressive poker player and don’t like the idea of going a conservative route, you probably won’t like this approach. If you’re already winning some other way, stick with it. It doesn’t make this strategy or yours wrong.

Extra side note: The outlined strategy assumes you already have a good understanding of poker, strength of hands, and a general sense of odds of winning a hand based on the cards you have and those in the community cards.

Here we go:

1. Always pay to see the cards while blinds are still small – You might be tempted to fold those unsuited 2 and 9 cards, but as long as the blinds are small and someone hasn’t already drastically raised, pay to see the flop. I can’t tell you how many times in the beginning I folded instead of matching the cheap big blind to see a two and a nine pop up on the flop. That’s gold because nobody sees the damage you’re capable of doing.

2. Don’t bluff too much – Although it’s good to mix things up every once in a while to keep opponents on their toes, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) bluff much with this strategy. Play your cards and don’t risk people calling your bluff.

3. Be patient – Remember, you only need to make the top 3. No need to get too active too early. Wait for the good hands.

4. Don’t raise before the flop – Even if you have a really good pair of cards to begin with, you don’t want to scare everyone out…and you just might end up seeing a scary looking flop.

5. Only call all-in or high bets if you have to or if you’re sure you’ve got a winner: It’s tempting to call someone’s all-in bet when you’re sitting with there with a pair of Kings before or after the flop…but plenty of times when I first started double up poker, I had been doing comfortably well with chips only to find myself left with half of what I had when it just wasn’t necessary to risk it. I may have been sitting pretty with only one more player that needed to be knocked out, and then found myself left in a vulnerable position.

6. If you’ve managed to double up your stack, sit back and watch – Except for when you have really good cards, don’t play if you don’t need to. Remember, you only need to make the top 3. Let other people take care of business. Don’t throw your chips around just because you have some to lose. You might only be able to do this for so long because blinds alone can drain you when they get too high, but do it while you can. There have been many times that other players were active enough, that I did nothing after doubling up early and still easily made the top 3. Little boring, yeah, but ultimately you just want to win the game. Right?

7. Pay attention to your opponents – Although this strategy involves some patience and sitting back, you want to pay attention to what’s going on at the table instead of scrolling through facebook or rubbing your dog’s belly. You’ll want to know who you can exploit when the cards are right. That annoying player you have to fold to every other hand because they bluff/raise every damn time – wait it out. When you get the cards you need, you’ll be able to sit back, call the bets, and cash in on their reckless play.

8. Don’t bet too early even when you have good cards – pocket A/K with 2 Aces on the flop? Check on the first round to see if someone else starts the betting. Call ‘em. Bet low on the turn if nobody else has…bet more on the river but don’t go all in unless you’re convinced someone will call it. You want to offer them something affordable but that will give you a nice jump in chip count if they call. Don’t go all-in unless your bets are being called and raised and you are pretty sure you have a winning hand.

9. If your chips are getting low and blinds are high, go all-in pre-flop with good cards. Although not an ideal situation to be in, every once in a while you’ll find yourself in a situation towards the end of a game with few chips left and blinds that will kill you. This is where you have to get aggressive and go all-in before the flop with decent starting cards. Since others are often playing the game of patience as well, more often than not (and unless they happen to have A/K or a great pair) they’ll fold…and getting away with only stolen blinds is worth it. I usually only do this if both of my dealt cards are a Jack or higher or if I have any pocket pair.

10. Take a break if you find yourself on a losing streak. If you end up losing a couple games in a row, take a break instead of signing up for your next game. Regroup, get your mind right, and get back to the action when you’re not anxious about chasing the money you just lost… Stick with the same buy in amount you’re used to instead of picking a higher tier to earn back your losses. Remember to think long-term. If you’re winning at least 6 or 7 out of 10 games, you’re doing alright.