MTT – EARLY STAGE STRATEGY – P2

Increasing the Odds

I want you to have a solid handle on what situations are good to stay in and see out, and which ones are best

viewed from the sidelines. I want to start by familiarizing you (or re-familiarizing you, depending on your existing level of poker knowledge) with two simple and important concepts: implied odds and reverse implied odds. Implied odds refer to the future payoff you expect to receive if you catch a flop (or a particular card) that gives you a winning hand. Situations offering good Implied odds refer those where you will be winning a big pot or losing a small pot. Situations offer reverse implied odds are those where you are most likely to win a small pot or lose a big pot. In the early stages of MTT play, implied odds are good and reverse implied odds are undesirable. We want to do everything we can to keep the risk low and rewards great – and the best way to do this is to keep the odds in your favor by gaining and preserving chips. You can accomplish this by…

1) making small investments. Don’t shy away from investing a small percentage of your stack to see cheap flops in order to try and bust tight-playing. More opponents in the hand = more people to potentially pay you off. I recommend that you only do with this pocket pairs, suited connectors, and suited aces. After all, you want to be on the winning side of setup hands.

TIP: BE CAUTIOUS WITH BROADWAY HANDS. I can’t emphasize this enough. Making top pair in deep stack situations is not your primary objective. Knowing your opponent will tell you when it’s OK to go to the house with top pair and against who you can play more hands.

2) gauging your pre-flop play. The worse you expect someone to play after the flop, the larger you think your post-flop edge is, the more hands you can justify playing pre-flop. Don’t play loose just because you want to; there has to method to your perceived madness.

3) being wary of crowded tables. More players also means more people who may have hit lucky on the board. You’ll need to have a more nutted hand to be able to withstand a lot of action in a 5 or 6 way pot.

4) keeping the pot small. The pot size grows exponentially, so be willing to keep the pot small when you are unsure of where you stand in a hand. It’s less disastrous to miss a value bet than to risk losing your entire stack in a spot where you aren’t sure where you stand.

5) punishing your opponents. I’m not talking about taking up an active vendetta against anyone, but you can give a rap on the knuckles to opponents who are playing too loose by playing a tight range in position. This way, when you both hit the flop, you can hit it harder and make the action work for you.
Alternatively, let’s look at sure-fire ways you can lose your chips – not to mention any credibility you’ve gained at the table. We’ve already discussed most of these, but they stand revisiting.

Ways to Bleed Chips
1) Playing too loose pre-flop, especially in early position when it compounds into post-flop errors;
2) Calling down too light, especially when competing with other tight players (i.e. making stubborn calls); 3) Playing impatiently in general;
4) Not paying attention and consequently, missing out on profitable opportunities;
5) Making bad bluffs;

Post, Flop, Action!

Once you make a hand, it’s time to figure out how to get the most out of it. It’s hard to get dealt strong hand, let alone connect with the flop strongly, so you really have to capitalize on these opportunities. Bluffing does play a role, but when it comes to poker tournaments, for the most part you are going to win the most chips when you are holding a strong hand. Remember, big pots are for big hands!

When to Play your Hands Fast

You are going to want to take a more aggressive approach when…

…you think your opponent likes his or her hand and you believe you have a stronger hand …you encounter dangerous/dynamic boards (i.e. when there are many draws possible) …scary cards are turning up (think 77 on 235; or when every turn is an over-card or straight) …you encounter multi-way pots (more opponents means lower chances of winning) …you’re out of position (i.e. you don’t have control of the action)

…you’re up against passive opponents who need you to do the betting for them

When to Pay your Hands Slow

You are going to want to meander down easy street and keep a more passive front when… …the board is dry/static and doesn’t contain many draws.

…the pot to stack ratio is low. (How many “pot sized bets” do you have left? Hint: The fewer you have, the easier it will be to get all-in by the river and the slower you can play your hand.)

… it’s you vs. only 1 or 2 opponents. (Lower odds of getting sucked out on, and less likely someone has a good enough hand to give you a lot of action.)

… you’re up against hyper aggressive opponents. (Let them seal their own fate! You can always wait until the river to put the last bet in, and you may get 3 streets of value from a dud-hand they were bluffing and would’ve folded if you’d shown any interest earlier on.)

…you have all the cards in the deck and it’s near impossible for your opponent to have anything that will give you action. (In these cases, you have to give your opponent a chance to bluff; they cannot call any bets from you but they can bet themselves.)

Your middle stage strategy for MTTs should be a lot like your middle age strategy for life: you’re still in the
game, you’ve made it this far, earned your place and now’s the time to take risks. You could easily just keep coasting along, but that’s not how you make an impact, that’s not how you get attention and get your name well known. Want a hot new car? The kids are grown and you don’t need the minivan anymore, so why the hell not? You can afford it. Want a hot new wife? Hmmmm…well, unless you can also afford a good divorce lawyer, this little indulgence probably isn’t a good call. It’s a play that can cost you a lot more than you were betting on. A good idea in theory, after all, is one thing. A good idea in practice is quite another. Much like successful mid-life strategy, successful mid-stage MTT play depends on balancing solid theory and solid practice. It’s a good time to take risks (theory), granted those risks are founded in strategic, tried and tested rationale (practice). I’m here to show you why you should take those chances and how you can blend the two areas into one bankroll pleasing plan.

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