Article- Comments Plz ;)
Hey guys, here is an article I wrote for a competition on another forum, all comments appreciated
Hand Selection and Strategy – Hold’em MTTs
Early on in a tournament, there are many different theories and methods on what hands to play in order to both survive and build your stack. Throughout this article I will give the various opinions that different people have, and then say what I believe is the best theory and why.
The main theories saying which hands to play early on in a big mtt are as follows:
1)Stay tight, for the first hour survival is our main aim. The less pots we enter the less we can lose all we want to do is wait for the lesser players to slowly get knocked out and we can then play poker in the 2nd hour. If we do play a hand we play it aggressively raising and reraising to get as little people left in the pot as possible. The hands we will do this with are as follows: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, 1010. Raise and reraise to thin the field. We will also raise or call a raise with the following hands: 99, 88, and 77 AJs KQs (KQ and AJ suited preferably in late position). We may limp in late position with the following hands: 66, 55, 44, 33, and 22.
Then within this theory there are two ways you can play post flop. Because we have been raising before the flop every time we play, it is likely that we have the image of a solid player. We can if we like use this to our advantage by deciding to bet EVERY single flop when we have raised preflop, however good or bad the flop has been for us. This way we are just looking to take every flop down as quickly as we can, the theory behind it being we give ourselves as little chance as possible to be eliminated. Even if we flop a huge hand, we won’t ever give a free card so we cannot get ourselves in trouble with silly draws hitting.
The other way to play it is to play as if you normally would, trying to extract as many chips out of a big hand, through trapping, check raising etc and dumping a hand when we miss. The theory behind this is that when we miss we lose the minimum and when we hit we get the maximum. In a sense this can be a riskier way to play because you will win big pots but you will also get beaten in big flops when you let the flush draw beat your top set because he got a free river card.
I think the better method of these two is to bet every flop you raised and just try and take down all of the pots you enter as quickly as you can either preflop or post flop. Build your stack fast, and with minimal risk. This first method I call the survival method, after I explain the next method which I call the all or nothing method.
This theory works as follows:
2)Totally the opposite to the survival method. Our general is to get as many chips as we can within the first hour and try and become as near to the top of the leader board as we can, making the 2nd hour a lot easier. Hands to play are all as in the survival method except you can also play lots and lots of speculative hands. Suited connectors, one gappers, all pairs and suited aces.
Unlike the survival theory in the all or nothing theory raising is not something you will be doing so much, we will raise with big pairs and maybe AK, but with everything else, and especially with the speculative hands (suited connectors, etc) we are trying to get as cheap a flop as we can. The idea of these hands is either to get in and out cheaply or to hit your hand hard and win a big pot because it is so deceptive.
This means that with the all or nothing theory because your style of play will be recognized by the other players as being loose, you cannot make as many steals as with the survival theory as your table image won’t be what it would be if you were playing a lot tighter. Therefore you need to use a method of either “pump it or dump it” after the flop. In simpler terms this means if you miss the flop get out, and if you hit the flop bet and raise to take it down.
You continue to do this over the first hour, whilst the blinds are low and you can take cheap flops. The main problem with this theory is the fact that you can hit half a hand such as top pair with a hand like 89s and you end up losing a big pot to JJ. Also, your table image will mean that you cannot bluff or even semi-bluff as your opponents will keep calling you all the way down. This can however be used to your advantage, and when you do hit your hand you can count a big flop, hence the all or nothing in the name, you either win big pots or lose big pots, but the pots you play will be bigger than the ones you play in the survival theory.
I have now explained hand selection and how to play these hands in the early period (the first hour) in online poker tournaments. It can also be applied to live poker, but it will be a longer period and the blind structure will be very different.
The idea of these 2 theories is either to try and give yourself as much of a chance as you possibly can of getting through the first hour, or on the other hand to either get a huge stack early, or bale out. It all depends on the type of style that most suits your general way of playing poker.
Personally I think that my survival theory is best, because you can wait for the worst players to be weeded out, stay in the tournament and wait for a hand, and if you get a bit of luck and some good hands, you still may end up with just a big a stack as using the other theory, but putting yourself at less of a risk of being eliminated early. This is the strategy I try and use in mtt’s.
Hope you enjoy this,