Am I playing MTTs the wrong way?

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Bentheman87

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I've recently started to play more MTTs, I used to play SNGs or cash games more often. I've had a few big cashes ($2000+ :D ), but lately I just can't seem to cash and I hate the feeling of getting knocked out and winning nothing after I've put in a lot of time and effort. Here's my basic MTT strategy.

In the early stages, the first hour and a half about, I play extremely conservative. I just try to keep from losing any chips and preserve my stack. I'll make big laydowns if I think there's a decent chance I'm beat and if someone puts me all in preflop I'll only call with AA KK or maybe QQ. I try not to take much risks, but I will play the small pairs or suited connectors if I feel I have huge implied odds, but sometimes I feel I shouldn't even be speculating. Sometimes it will work out, I'll hit a set and double up early, which is very nice, but lately I've been speculating with those types of hands but just losing chips early on. I'll start with 2000 chips and by the first hour I'm at 1400 or 1500, and IMO that is a disaster. Why? Because if I were to double up right after the first hour against a stack that has me covered, I would be at 4000 if I didn't do any speculating. If I double up at 1500 I'm only at 3000 and it's like 1000 chips vanished. If I lose half my stack in the first hour and double up in the 2nd hour, I'm at 2000, but had I preserved my stack I would be at twice that, 4000.

In the middle stage when my M is between 10 and 20, I'll still play conservative, is this the wrong idea? Usually at this stage, probably 60% of the field is eliminated. My plan is to play similar to the early stages and just get closer to the bubble.

In the late stages of course I play aggressive, I'll start making moves and attacking the smaller stacks. I'll take many many risks and I'll put all my chips in for a coinflip if I can. I'll also start making loose calls if someone puts me all in (unless it's obvious the raiser is strong, like if he opened from UTG).

Anyway that's my basic game plan, but what has always been happening lately is I get to the bubble as one of the shorter stacks. Like in a 900 person tournament I'll be ranked 190 out of 210 remaining players (about 150 get paid). And lately I've almost ALWAYS got knocked out right on the bubble or right before the bubble.

The times that I have made final tables in MTTs I've always somehow managed to be 1st-9th in chips by the time it got to the bubble. I can never make a final table in a MTT using the strategy I described above, the times I went really deep I always somehow had a massive chip stack by the middle stages, but doing that means taking risks and going against the game plan I described.

So am I playing MTTs the right way or the wrong way? Should I be taking more risks in the early to middle stages?
 
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Bentheman87

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Oh yeah, and another thing that's very bad about my strategy is by the time it gets near the bubble and I'm shortstacked with an M between 5 and 10, my ability to steal pots is extremely limited yet without stealing at least once every round, my M quickly drops below 5. It's difficult to steal blinds because most of the other stacks at my table are usually huge and have me covered. I could double up through them and it would hardly damage them. The average chip count is usually about 4000-5000 at this point and I have 2000 to 2500 chips and somehow the biggest stacks in the tournament always end up at my table to my left. They have like 15000 to 30000 so I just can't steal from them with marginal hands like I have to to survive. They will put me all in preflop or will call with garbage and bluff me off the pot.
 
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Bentheman87

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Another thing I've noticed when I use my strategy (IDK if this is good or bad), is that I almost never get knocked out early. Out of the last 20 MTTs I've played, I've outlasted more than 75% of the field every single time. If I play a 900 person MTT, I almost always can make it to the final 200 or so. I guess this is a good sign because the whole point of tournament poker is survival, but then again finishing 160th when 150 players get paid doesn't win any more money than getting knocked out in the first hour.

Also, when I play a MTT, I really play to get first second third or fourth. I've got a pretty huge bankroll compared to the tournament buyin and I really don't care about just winning my buyin back plus a little more. It makes almost no difference to me if I get knocked out on the bubble or if I win my buyinback plus a little more. If I buyin for $55, I'd rather just get knocked out early than to get past the bubble and win like $150 or $200, because it's just not worth all the time IMO. The players who get 1st-5th get so much more money compared to the bubble prizes its crazy (but it's like that for all MTTs right?). In the Fifty Fifty tournament that I play regularly on Full Tilt, the bubble gets about $100-$250 and the final three players get between $5000 and almost $10,000. It's more profitable to get first place once and get knocked out on the bubble 99 times than to barely cash 100 times. I'm just saying this because it seems there are a lot of players who play extremely conservative when they are on the bubble because they want to get their buyin back, but I'm not one of those players. I've read HoH Vol 1 and 2 and I pretty much follow Harrington's advice, but knowing my goal in a MTT, should I be using a different strategy? Should I be willing to flip a coin in the first hour to try to double my stack (which harrington advises against)?
 
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soccerfreakjj10

soccerfreakjj10

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In the middle stage when my M is between 10 and 20, I'll still play conservative, is this the wrong idea? Usually at this stage, probably 60% of the field is eliminated. My plan is to play similar to the early stages and just get closer to the bubble.

Your early game strategy is very good, but I really dislike your middle state strategy when you are in the yellow zone. You really shouldn't be playing conservatively here! You need to play aggressively here to keep your chip stack intact, and building it if you can.

Also I think your late game strategy is too aggressive. If you are in the red zone with an M of less than 5 then you need to be pushing hard, but "taking many many risks" is a bad idea in general because it is risky. You can still maintain aggression without moving all-in hoping for a coinflip situation. If you take even two coinflips NTM, mathematically you should be eliminated. In late game play though, how aggressive you should be should be dictated completely based on your mzone. I would strongly recommend reading Harrington on Hold 'em 2, if you haven't already.
 
goozik

goozik

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Sounds to me like you have a sound strategy for the tournament. But it seems like you are focused to much on your strategy and not enough on your table and your image on it. If your so tight/solid in the first 90mins of a MTT, you should be able to play some "small ball" with your occasional suited connectors you play, and get paid off when it connects. You play like a rock, learn to lead out and get small-medium payoffs on your occasional draw hand.
Obviously the first 30mins of the tourney things are so crazy sometimes just stick your top 3 hands. But in the 45-70min area, you should have a good read on at least a couple people at your table. Attack your fellow tight people blinds, and play your small ball against call stations.
 
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switch0723

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if your stack is depleting at start, it sounds to me like your a limping pre flop. The idea of a mtt is to build chip stacks. Therefore you need to be raising when first to come into pot instead of limping, that way you build the pot ready if you hit, but also you are the agressor to steal the pot. Sounds to me you need to be a LOT more aggressive
 
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younggun03

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it sounds to me like ur paying too much attention to ur strategy and not enough to ur table. coming in with a gameplan is good but u gotta remember to adjust to the table. overall ur early stage tournament strategy i think is good but after that u have to be willing to make some out of the box plays to build a big enough stack to have a shot at the final table. so basically im saying dont play so much by the book. play the table. also a rule of thumb i like to use is when u hit 8bb its time to start pushing and picking up the blinds because u still have fold equity. dont get so low the ppl dont give a shit about calling u

younggun03
 
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Bentheman87

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And yeah, I do limp a lot in the earlier to middle stages. When I said I play conservative, that meant limp preflop more than I raise. I limp with the same hands I'd raise with later in the tournament when my M gets smaller. But I think you're right Switch0723, but it's the middle and late game stages that I'm not playing aggressive enough, I don't think playing too tight in the early stage is so much of a problem. I feel I'm always just fading at the finish.
 
soccerfreakjj10

soccerfreakjj10

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And yeah, But I think you're right Switch0723, but it's the middle and late game stages that I'm not playing aggressive enough, I don't think playing too tight in the early stage is so much of a problem.

I also said this!

haha
 
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switch0723

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ye limping is fine in start of tourny if you are looking to survive and cash in the tournament. If you are looking to win however, then you want to build a large stack, raising at start of tourny is a good time to do it when people are a lot looser calling with marginal hands just bleeding you chips.

Other people do say play tight tight tight at start, but naturally being an aggressive player, i find it easier to play agressive throughout
 
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