When it comes to online poker tournaments, the “Sunday majors” currently include a lot of great alternatives for poker players of all skill levels. For example, 888poker has now established what has become a very popular line-up of multi-table tournaments at a variety of price points that more and more players are starting to add to their usual Sunday line-up of “must play” tournaments.
Among the most popular offerings each Sunday on 888Poker are the Mega Deep, the Sunday Challenge, and on alternating Sundays the Whale and Baby Whale.
While a number of players jump in all of these every Sunday, the tournaments tend to attract slightly different fields, which along with their differing structures can translate into different expectations and strategic considerations when approaching these tournaments.
Here's an overview of each of 888poker's popular Sunday tourneys, along with a few strategy tips to consider taking a seat in each.
The Mega Deep
The “Mega Deep” is currently the most popular of the Sunday offerings on 888Poker, a $215 buy-in tournament that at last check had a $100,000 guarantee (although sometimes it is higher). Of late there have been fields of 800 or more, with a first prize often adding up to around $30,000.
As the name of the tournament implies, you get to start with a “deep” stack of 10,000 chips in the Mega Deep, and with long 30-minute levels it's a great one for those who like to enjoy a lot of play in their tournaments. It's a “freezeout” (that is, no rebuys or reentries), late registration is open for four hours, and it plays “full ring” or nine-handed.
As the most popular weekly tournament (and thanks to its reasonable entry fee), the Mega Deep tends to attract a decent number of recreational players — more so, percentage-wise, than you'll encounter on similar Sunday tournaments on other sites. That's obviously good for more experienced players, but also means if you're still building up your tournament skills the Mega Deep presents an inviting alternative that isn't going to be quite as intimidating as other choices.
The deep starting stacks mean you can be patient and play a tight game early on, and can even be on the tight side during the middle stage while still looking for opportunities to accumulate chips via blind steals (as they're worth more) and via other means. Don't overlook chances to stack players making missteps early, however. Calling raises (especially with position) with solid speculative hands like suited connectors and small pairs can lead to profitable trapping opportunities versus opponents who have a hard time folding top pair, top kicker.
As is true with any deep-stacked tournament, accumulating chips early isn't necessarily as important as surviving, so don't go looking for big preflop all-ins with ace-queen or pocket jacks. Start making moves and opening up in the middle stages, then position yourself for a deep run to the big prizes at the end.
The Sunday Challenge
Another favorite option for recreational players on 888Poker is the Sunday Challenge which sports a $90 buy-in. This week the guarantee was $60,000, although it is also sometimes higher. The Sunday Challenge similarly routinely attracts big fields of as many as 700-800 entries, with first prizes sometimes approaching as much as $20K.
The structure for the Sunday Challenge is faster, with 15-minute levels and starting stacks of 5,000 chips. There's one rebuy available (as long as you're at 10,000 or less), so players can if they wish add an extra 5,000 to their stacks (for another $82). The blinds go up relatively quickly, too, making it a much more “shallow-stacked” tournament than the Mega Deep, if not exactly a turbo.
As already suggested, that lower buy-in definitely attracts more players with relatively less experience, which makes the Sunday Challenge a unique offering given the big prize pool and (relatively) “softer” field. Of course, it always depends on your table draw — a lot of “regs” and pros also play this tournament, too, and so don't go in assuming you'll be able to dominate your table from the get-go.
Speaking of, even though late registration goes for three hours (also the rebuy period), you'll want to start this one on time as those blinds go up quickly. This would also be the kind of tournament where chip accumulation is of greater importance early on to help you stay ahead of those blinds and position yourself later on to have chips with which to make moves both before and after the flop.
The rebuy wrinkle also should encourage you to get involved early and do what you can to add to your stack. There will be some looser-than-normal play during the rebuy period, which means it can be valuable to target bluffers and adjust your range upwards a notch so as to be able to call them down with better hands. Betting for value with your good hands and not slow playing (even monsters) is probably a good approach as well during the early and middle stages.
The Whale and Baby Whale
Each Sunday 888Poker also hosts what have become increasingly popular “high roller” Sunday tournaments — the Whale and Baby Whale (which alternate Sundays).
The Whale has a big $600 buy-in and of late has had a $120,000 guarantee. Meanwhile the Baby Whale costs $320 to play, with the guarantee most recently being $100,000. Both “Whales” often attract big fields of 300-400 or more and thus often exceed those guarantees with first prizes in the $30K-$40K range.
The structures for the Whale and Baby Whale kind of split the difference between the Mega Deep and the Sunday Challenge, in terms of the speed of the tournament. Players start both with 10,000 chips, with levels lasting 25 minutes in the Whale and 20 minutes in the Baby Whale. Both are freezeouts (no rebuys). That means you can be a little more patient early in these tournaments, and likely don't want to get too involved bloating pots with less than strong holdings during the initial levels.
Aside from pursuing basic multi-table tournament strategy, though, the higher buy-in is going to mean a different level of opponent with which to contend (generally speaking).
Unlike less savvy players, your opponents in the Whale and Baby Whale are often going to be capable of making moves like three- and four-betting light before the flop or check-raise bluffing later in hands. These are also players better able than your average recreational player of folding medium-strength hands in the face of aggression, which means you can bluff or bet light against them if you are smart about picking spots to push them off of hands.
Finally, once you reach the late stages of each of these tournaments — and especially the final tables — be mindful of how the different buy-ins may or may not be affecting players' desire to ladder up the payouts. Try to distinguish who is going for the win and who is starting to “turtle” up, and be cautious with the former and more aggressive with the latter.
Join the Sunday Fun at 888poker
There are a host of satellite options for all of the tournaments on 888poker as well that can enable you to win your way even into the higher buy-in Whale and Baby Whale events for relatively little.
If you want to get involved with these popular Sunday offerings on 888poker and don't already have an account, now's a good time to give them a try since you can get an account and get in the game without even making a deposit. Create your free 888poker through PokerNews Canada and you'll be awarded a free sign-up bonus of $88 which includes $8 in free cash and tournament tickets and an $80 bonus.