Properly adjusting to blind increases
This a brief review of adjusting to blind increases in tournaments. Many players know how to play based upon the current blind level, but what about when the blinds are increasing in less than a minute?
Knowing when the blinds are increasing is a vital bit of information that often goes overlooked. The process of finding out exactly how long until the next increase is usually relatively easy. It tends to involve clicking a button somewhere on the table interface and looking at a number. Something of that magnitude takes maybe 2 seconds, tops? Anyhow, it's very easy, but the ramifications of not checking that number can turn devastating.
Almost every decision made in a tournament is based upon our current stack level. All sorts of strategies exist, but every style out there corresponds to how many chips are remaining in our stack. That being said, combined with how incredibly easy it is to know this information, means we should allow for some flexibility in our strategies when the blinds have either just increased or are soon to be doing so.
Let us imagine a situation involving us in late position on an eight-handed table. The table folds around to us and presents us with the option of opening. Our stack size is slightly larger than what we consider "proper" to shove and are holding a marginal shoving hand, but the blinds are increasing within 1 minute. For the sake of visualization, we'll give ourselves Q8s in the hi-jack with 10BBs. For most players this is a fold as our stack size is large enough to continue waiting, so let us assume we fold. Suddenly, the blinds go up the next hand and we drop down to 6-7BBs. Wow, that sure sucks doesn't it? We're now in a situation approaching the big blind as our position gets worse and worse until the blind hits us. If the poker Gods do not grant us a beautiful hand in the blinds, we might find ourselves sitting on the button with 5BBs. One round has passed, and our stack dropped from 10 to 5BBs. Sure would have been nice to win some chips with that Q8s eh?
Alternatively, the amount of time until the next blind increase could turn a marginal shove into a fold. Let us pretend we're in early position, in a marginal spot to shove, but the blinds literally just now increased. Directly following a blind increase gives us the most time at the current level, which gives us less reason to risk our stack and more reason to fold. This extra motivation to fold is, of course, then combined with all other factors at play to make our final decision.
Another reason we're checking when the blinds go up is to make sure the level increase will not eliminate any potential that our stack size currently has. For instance, if we have 14xBB(enough to steal/fold to shoves), but after the level increase we would only have 9xbb (stuck in shove/fold mode), we would lose the ability to steal without shoving. In that case, marginal steals become less marginal so we can protect our continued ability to steal. One failed steal now will not really affect our stack ability after the level increase as we'll still be in shove/fold mode and still have decent fold equity with our stack size.
SNGs that have antes, on sites like Pokerstars
, make knowing when the blinds increase even more important. A very sneaky blind jump exists in these games usually after the 100/200 level. The blinds actually stay the same, at 100/200, but a 25 chip ante shows up and changes everything. This level jump is roughly the equivalent of moving up to 150/300 and should be approached accordingly. We need to react to this inclusion of antes the same way we would if the blinds were truly increasing.
Checking the tournament information and finding out when the blinds are going to increase is certainly a great practice to get in. I have had students mention their multi-tabling gets in the way of looking for this information, but really the benefits outweigh the difficulty. Why wouldn't we want to be aware of more information than our opponents?