Our good friends at OP-Poker are not just regular poker streamers. They have developed a reputation over the past few years as early adopters, jumping on the many new variants launched on PokerStars and readily experimenting with the new formats. They aim to work out optimal strategies where none yet exist.
Grand Tour is right in their wheelhouse, and it’s no surprise to learn that Nick Walsh, one of OP-Poker’s founder members, has already completed 17 Grand Tours (and counting). He streams his progress almost every day on OP-Poker’s Twitch channel — and there may be the occasional ticket giveaway on the stream too.Nick was kind enough to provide his top five tips for prospering at Grand Tour. Read our step-by-step “How To…” guide to learn the basics of Grand Tour, then it’s over to Nick for how to refine your game and make the most from this format.
Nick “OP-Poker Nick” Walsh’s tips for Grand Tour:
1. Learn bankroll management for hyper formats
Whenever you are playing high-variance formats such as Grand Tour it is very important you set aside a bankroll that will allow you to “take the swings” you will inevitably encounter. The variance in Grand Tour is so big because sprints are played as hyper turbos, where blinds escalate very quickly. We recommend you have a bank roll of 200 buy-ins at the stakes you wish to play. For example, if you wish to start your Grand Tour race at the $1 stage, you should set aside $200 as your starting bankroll. This means you will give yourself enough ammunition to play a good volume of Grand Tour sprints — which is required to conquer this format in the long run — without the constant threat of busting your bankroll.
2. Learn your late game push/fold
Grand Tour is a very fast-paced format which means the blinds increase in a way that leaves players short-stacked after very few hands. It is therefore crucial you invest some time learning some basic “push/fold” (all-in or fold pre-flop) strategies. You need to become confident in knowing the range of hands you can move all-in with at various stack depths. For the most part, we use a push/fold strategy at shorter stack depths where the expected value of an all-in is often greater than an alternative strategy (such as calling or raising non-all-in preflop). For more detailed information on push/fold strategy you can join us on the OP-Poker Discord or for a more advanced/exhaustive hyper format education you can check out the OP-Poker Spin & Go course.
3. Adjust for bounties
A huge component of Grand Tour is the bounty/knockout element. The majority of the money you will win when you don’t successfully complete a full Grand Tour (by winning the final $60 sprint) will be from the bounties you accrue during your race. As such, it is vitally important you adjust your play to maximise your exposure to the potential bounties at your tables while also being aware how your opponents will adjust their play to do the same.
– Adjusting to win a bounty: as a general rule we should be more willing to gamble with a wider range (selection) of hands. We should also try our best to “isolate” — in other words, we want to make a play pre-flop that pushes potential opponents out of the pot so you are facing only one opponent post-flop. You’ll usually do this via an all-in shove. You want to be heads-up against the opponent whose bounty is in play, as that will increase the percentage chance that we will win that bounty. For example, if we are on the button and the big blind is very short stacked (where we have them covered) we can move all-in with a wider range of hands to push the player in the small blind out of the pot. This allows us to isolate the short-stacked big blind and their bounty.– Adjusting to opponents who are bounty hunting: we also need to be aware of the fact that our opponents will be more willing to gamble with a wider range of hands in order to isolate and potentially win a bounty. Therefore we can also call with a wider range of hands in situations where we feel our opponents are making the kind of adjustment described above. For example, if we are in the small blind and the big blind is very short stacked (where we have them covered) and the player on the button moves all-in (as a clear attempt to steal the big blind bounty) we can call that all-in with a wider range of hands in anticipation of the button’s wider shoving range.
4. Adjust your payout expectation
Although Grand Tour is presented as a kind of single table sit-and-go format, it is actually much more like a multi-table shoot-out tournament. The reason for this is that a large amount of your return on investment will come from the situations where you successfully “complete” a Grand Tour race, by winning the final $60 sprint. In Grand Tour, you should not expect a “slow grind” steady monetary return. Rather, the format offers large profit “spikes” in the races where you either complete a full Grand Tour or when you manage to win a large bounty multiplier. That’s not to say you won’t sometimes profit without winning a complete race (this will sometimes soften the overall variance of this format in fact) but managing your expectations of unusual formats such as Grand Tour is key to maintaining a strong mental game while you enjoy this hyper format.
5. Work with a community
Often the best way to improve your poker is to share tricky hands/thoughts/strategies with a community which specialises in your desired format. The OP-Poker Discord is a highly active, super friendly community of players with a Grand Tour specific channel to do exactly that. It’s also a great place to share your Grand Tour wins/big multiplier scores to keep you motivated and focused on playing your best in this new format.