Playing Very Tight. This is the average place you’ll be in when you get to middle stage. Many times you will actually have a little less. This is also the hardest position/stage to play. Notice the blinds are small but they are still big enough that they will be eating into you very soon. When you hit the 1000 chip level (with a starting stack of 1500), you are starting to get into do or die territory. You don’t want your stack to get much smaller than that. This stage, is the stage right before the late stage when your M is in a danger zone low. You still should play tight and basic poker, but there will be an exception if your stack is about to get under 1000 because the blinds are upon you. More details below..
Raising 3BB or All-in?:
At this stage, there is very little raising 3BB. You are pretty much going all-in or not playing. You can call in some cases, but a 3BB raise will have you pot committed – therefore, you might as well go all-in to increase your fold equity. If you have AA/KK, you might raise but this is a trap play.
Pre-flop Starting Hands:
Limping Hands – late position
No limping(instead of limping, you will either go all-in or raise to steal the blinds)..
All-in Hands (we don’t want anyone to call)
From early position (right after the blinds): Push all-in with AK or 88+. If the blinds are about to take you under the 1000 level, go all-in with Any Ace, any pair and any KQ,KJ, QJ, or suited connector (IP: This is only true if after the BB and SB pass you, you will have less than 1000 chips – starting 1500 chips). You should have a tight table image so you should be able to pull it off without someone calling. You are doing this for a couple reasons. First off, you can’t let your stack get below 1000 without putting up a fight. If you do, it will be much easier for someone to call you when you do go all-in (before the next blind pushes you into the 700 range). A general rule is to not let your stack get below 1000 by having blinds take you out. By pushing all-in, you have a decent chance at taking the blinds down without a fight. Even though you are in early position (there are lots of people to act still). This move becomes much more possible in the next section (M:4-5) but you must be aware of it here as well – just in case you are in an odds situation where you’re about to go under 1000. When you do go all-in, and people call – hopefully you have a coin flip at least. This is ok. At some point you need to take a risk. If you do win the blinds without a fight, you will be able to keep afloat (above 1000 chips). Hopefully you’ll get a real hand soon that you can call with and actually double up.
NOTE: This is normally not the case. Usually if you are in early position, M:6-9 in the middle stage of the tourney, you won’t be knocked under 1000 chips after the blinds go by you. If this is the case, you only play the AK and 88+ from early – still pushing all-in. You only play the weak hands (Any A, any pair, KJ, etc) if it means you will NOT go under 1000 chips on the next turn.
From middle position :
Push all-in with AK or 88+. You can also push all in with AQ. Otherwise, don’t play. In some rare cases, you can limp in with a pair. You should have a M of around 9 for this to be ok. If it’s a small call to see the flop and there are limpers, go ahead and do it with any pair – looking for a set on the flop.
From late/button position :
Push all-in with AQ+ or 88+. You are really trying to steal the blinds. Many times, this will end in a coin flip if someone calls. You are allowed to attempt a Blind Steal: 1.5 X BB with the following hands: AT, AJ, 22-77, KQ. Make a small raise (1.5BB) and hope everyone folds. If someone calls, push all-in if you made a pair, otherwise check it down or fold. If you raise 1.5xBB and they reraise all-in you have a very tough decision. It is ok to fold if your stack size is still going to be over 900 chips. If after you fold, you will have less than 900, you should strongly consider calling. Especially if you have a pair or if your opponent is a big stack. Big stacks might be trying to bully you so you could have at least a coin flip. If you knew for sure you had a coin flip – you would definitely call. Since you could be dominated or be an underpair to an overpair, you can fold if you will still have some chips left.
From small blind position :
If you have A7+ or any pair, push all-in to steal the blinds. Only do this if there are no limpers! Otherwise, follow same rules as late/button for blind steal: 1.5x BB play: Make this 1.5xBB raise with KQ, KJ
Facing a raise (you haven’t acted yet)
AK or JJ+: You may use the Standard Reraise: ALL-IN play. This is hard to do if you are not use to pushing all-in like this. You have a lot to gain however. This is a key edge in this system. You have fold equity, plus a decent chance at winning should you get called.. Since you still need to grow your stack, its ok to make this move even if it means you might lose the tourney and get knocked out.
You need to grow your stack still and this is a good chance to do it. Most of the time, the raiser
will fold. If he calls, hopefully he’s dominated. Should this happen, you will have a very big stack which will help you coast into the money.
Facing a raise (you have acted already)
JJ+ and AK: You may use the Standard Reraise: ALL-IN play same as above.
ATs, AJs, AQs: Call.
AA or KK: You may use the Standard Reraise: ALL-IN play.
Blind Stealing (button or one off button)
See comments from above.
Blind Defense (from big blind – small blind is stealing)
You are allowed to use the Blind Defense: Reraise ALL-in This play is more risky, however you need to make a move and preserve your stack. This is a good way to do this…Using a high probability play. Since your table image should be tight, he should fold.
Other Pre-Flop Plays/Comments
You are allowed to make the Small Blind Play: Call any half bet from small blind if one or more limpers exist. You are hoping to trap someone and get a lucky double up. Again, check down/fold if your hand doesn’t improve after the flop.
Post-flop Play (flop,turn,river):
Most of the time at this stage post-flop, you will have pushed all- in. Because of this there are no rules for post-flop play. Refer to the previous section for details if you find yourself having to make a descision post flop. It is relatively straight forward however. All-in if you have top pair or a good drawing hand. Otherwise – check it down or play passive.
Since you still need to grow your stack,
its ok to make this move even if it means you might lose the
tourney and get knocked out.