Rebuy/MTT Strat Guide (by request)

ripptyde

ripptyde

Rock Star
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Total posts
448
Hey guys I just wanted to preface posting this with a couple of things...

I posted this on a couple of other forums in the past, and naturally I was trashed and ridiculed. Sharing my strats really left a bad taste in my mouth when everything was said and done, so I haven't really discussed game theory or shared any of my ideas of holdem for quite some time because so much of the feedback and comments I got were negative..even vicious in nature.

I have mentored a few people (one on one) who went on to become winning players and I think my own MTT stats and ROI speak for themselves. I am very proud of the fact that I was able to communicate a lot of my ideas to some people and that I helped improve their game(s) or changed the way they think. That for me was satisfaction enough. A while back this guide was floating all over this internet and I was getting a ton of emails saying 'wow you really helped my game and opened my eyes' etc etc. Thats all that mattered to me.

Now by no means I am saying this guide (which I wrote when I was a moderator for another forum) is the ultimate holdem playbook. All I want to do here is share MY ideas with others...if it helps you, thats great....if you disagree, well thats fine too. I am not trying to (nor did I ever) promote this piece as the only way to approach tournament poker.

With that said, let me add that I am happy to be a new member of Cardschat and I hope after reading this, you can take something from it and with a little luck add some weapons to your arsenal(s). :)

Ripptyde

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"Luck comes and goes...Knowledge stays forever."

I'm going to break this down into several sections/stages, and also explain some of the strategies you should be using for both (freezout) and (rebuy/add-on) tournaments which I'll incorporate when applicable. I'm also going to include numerous hand histories to illustrate various points when the topic calls for them.


I do have a tendendency at times to ramble on and get off the 'beaten track'.... and I'll warn you ahead of time that this essay will undoubtedly be a tad 'cluttered' ...but I am confident that by the end of it , you'll have a better understanding about how to approach MTT's in general and with a little luck some of my observations and tips will help you to go deeper...more often...and who knows maybe even get a win or two

So before I get underway with the overall strategy content here, I'd like to state for the record that I admittedly have an extremely aggressive style that many players simply cannot (or will not) adopt. I take risks at various stages of tournament poker which often result in busting out. I'll be the first to confess that...BUT...What you have to understand is that if you arent WILLING to take risks and execute bluffs holding nothing (when the situation calls for it)...then I can promise you that you will never succeed at MTT poker.

There is absolutely no way you will ever make final tables in this venue of poker without occassionally taking risks which defy logic. So called 'tight' play is appropriate in the early stages of MTT's and I fully appreciate the approach (and utilize it myself) however, in mid and latter stages you simply have to be prepared to abandon 'logic' and play a much more aggressive brand of poker...always looking for opportunities to take down blinds as well as large pots when you are holding nothing but rags. Now I am not by any means advocating foolish play such as making expensive calls out of position with rag hands just because you have a 'chance' at cracking someone else holding a strong hand....not by a long shot...But what I am seeking to stress here more than anything...is that POSITION is the most valuble commodity in tournament poker....Far more valuble than hole cards. Once you begin to understand the value of position in tandem with leverage in tournament poker....you have 1/2 the battle won. You begin to look down at suited connectors licking your chops raising with them like you would with rockets when the big blind is on a short stack. Understanding the value of position combined with leverage is absolutely imperative to becoming a winning MTT player....and thats the bottom line.



The point I'm really trying to drive home here is that gaining a big stack early is vital to being able to implement some of the strategies which you are going to read about. Without a decent stack you have virtually zero chance to make it deep in MTT's so being willing to bust out early is necessary when you approach the tourney. Playing weak/tight passive poker is just going to result in spinning your wheels and finding yourself pushing all in with some mediocre starting hand when the blinds begin to threaten your stack. The idea is to stay ahead of the blinds throughout the entire tourney so you don't have to make these types of moves late.

With that said, lets get under way...



STAGE 1

Early in a large field tournament is essentially 'sink or swim' time in my opinion. Especially in a rebuy/add-on format tourney where the chip leaders often reach 50K in chips or more by the end of the first hour. Lets talk about rebuy/add on strategy first.

Typically you are going to begin a rebuy add-on tournament with 1500 in chips with an option to rebuy. The first hour of these tourneys is generally not 'real' poker..its an all-in fest with players pushing all in (even calling) with marginal and even garbage starting cards. The first hour of these tournaments are often frustrating for the novice player because they are too busy playing 'poker' and fail to realize the objective of the first hour. The objective is simple: ACCUMULATE CHIPS

I strongly suggest that when you enter an 'R/A' tourney...you commit yourself to spend 6 to 8 rebuys/add ons. The first hour is going to give you approximately 50-70 hands to play and its imperative that you are not playing 'poker' but pushing pre flop 90% of the time. Use the 1st rebuy immediately giving yourself 3000 in starting chips and then wait. Take yourself out of the mindset that you can be limping in with hands like J/10 or A/9 etc and making a hand and extracting chips after the flop. The first hour is not the time for this mindset.

Now in the first hour you WILL be dealt 3 or 4 monsters....they are coming trust me. A/A, K/K, Q/Q, A/K. But do not try and get fancy with them. With a little luck you have a loose table with lots of action, and if you just sit quietly in the wings waiting on your hand...you will get action...and 1, 2 perhaps even 3 callers on a pre flop push. Now I am not suggesting that you do not play any hands other than the ones listed above. Because when you are dealt a hand like J/10s, or Q/Kos or any low pocket pair you should also be pushing all in pre flop. (provided there are no all ins before you...these are hands that you should be initiating action with...not calling with) but what I am suggesting is that if you have been just camping out folding multiple orbits, its unlikely that you will get any action when you do catch that monster. This is reason why I strongly urge all in pre flop with even group 2 hands. To ADVERTISE !

The idea here is to establish a wild table image in the first hour and hopefully induce action when you do catch your golden hand. Ex: you are in on the button with 8/5os and everybody folds around to you. PUNCH IT ! ..of course you don't want a caller...in all likelyhood the sb and bb will quickly fold. This is when you SHOW your cards ! The only purpose this move is serving is to demonstrate to the other players that you are reckless and have no regard or respect whatsoever for the value of your buy in(s). Its also giving you less respect for when you push pre flop and increasing the probability that you DO get called when you push pre flop again. In short this is a 'set-up' (the beauty of this play is that even if you do get a caller with an unpaired hand...you are only a 2 to 1 dog to crack him)

What you are trying to accomplish in the first hour of an R/A format tourney is to at the very minimum double up. My goal is typically to go into the second hour with 10K or more in chips. Ive gone into second hours with as much as 40K when I was dealt some good cards, but understand you are at a tremendous disadvantage when you enter the second hour handicapped with a short stack, so don't waste precious time playing post flop poker.

When I say 'sink or swim' I mean simply that you cannot be playing 'timid' , cautious poker the first hour. Be willing to either double/triple up or go home. Its as simple as that. Commit yourself to 6-8 rebuys and make all your moves all in pre flop (with a few exceptions)

Now there are actually some cases when you should just 'call' or limp in. You want to be playing as many hands as possible when you aren't pushing all in pre flop. Ex: hands like 6/4os, any suited cards (yes I said ANY) J/9os, K/7 etc. You have plenty of time to rebuy but essentially you are playing flop poker here. Limp in with marginal cards and play the flop...period. Dump your hand if you miss. The 1st hour of a rebuy add on tourney is not the time for bluffing...you'll have plenty of time for that later. You are looking to catch the odd set, a flush draw or two pair...thats it. Sometimes you are fortunate enough to double up by investing only the amount of a small sized big blind on a flop so don't just fold that J/9os because you wouldn't normally play it if its only going to cost you 20 or 40 chips to see the flop. If you flop a draw and its cheap to see the turn, you have a good chance to blindside someone who fell in love with top pair...especially if you are playing a hand like 10/7os or J/8 etc. Now the hand below is from a sit & go..but it illustrates this point perfectly >

PokerStars Game #3417712472: Tournament #16946638, Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30) - 2005/12/23 - 20:48:41 (ET)
Table '16946638 3' Seat #7 is the button
Seat 1: stallion712 (720 in chips)
Seat 2: team shisler (1450 in chips)
Seat 3: sprinkler19 (1470 in chips) is sitting out
Seat 4: deckhandj_ (1420 in chips)
Seat 5: Comptr (2090 in chips)
Seat 6: bertdale4u (1465 in chips)
Seat 7: Thor3365 (2415 in chips)
Seat 8: fastdenny (970 in chips)
Seat 9: ripptyde (1500 in chips)
fastdenny: posts small blind 15
ripptyde: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ripptyde [8d Jc]
stallion712: folds
team shisler: folds
sprinkler19: folds
deckhandj_: folds
deckhandj_ is sitting out
Comptr: folds
bertdale4u: calls 30
Thor3365: raises 30 to 60
fastdenny: folds
ripptyde: calls 30
bertdale4u: calls 30
*** FLOP *** [6h 9c 7s]
ripptyde: checks
bertdale4u: checks
Thor3365: bets 90
ripptyde: calls 90
bertdale4u: calls 90
*** TURN *** [6h 9c 7s] A♣
ripptyde: checks
bertdale4u: checks
Thor3365: checks
*** RIVER *** [6h 9c 7s Ac] 5♦
ripptyde: checks
bertdale4u: bets 300
Thor3365: folds
ripptyde: raises 1050 to 1350 and is all-in
bertdale4u: calls 1015 and is all-in
*** SHOW DOWN ***
ripptyde: shows [8d Jc] (a straight, Five to Nine)
bertdale4u: shows [Qh Ah] (a pair of Aces)
ripptyde collected 3095 from pot
Seat 6: bertdale4u showed [Qh Ah] and lost with a pair of Aces
Seat 7: Thor3365 (button) folded on the River
Seat 8: fastdenny (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 9: ripptyde (big blind) showed [8d Jc] and won (3095) with a straight, Five to Nine

This was a cheap flop to see when I was on the big blind and only had to call a mini-raise preflop....and only a small flop bet to see the turn with an open ended straight draw....a good example of how marginal cards can quickly turn into monsters.

Now lets assume you have managed to double up and find yourself with 6000 or more in chips with 30 minutes left in the rebuy hour...what now ?

Well its time to adjust...BUT, that doesn't mean you just camp out. You are still playing all in pre flop poker with group 1 hands. But at this point you can adjust to play 'raise' poker with group 2's. Stick to 3X's with hands like Q/10, K/Q , J/10 and small pocket pairs and play the flop just as would in a normal 'poker' setting. Now you have a stack that you can use to your advantage and induce action and 'juice' the pot a little. Towards the end of the first hour the blinds are typically 50/100 and you can easily take down a 1/2 a dozen 1000 chip pots if you play good solid post flop poker.

Now you are still going to have players going all in pre flop like madmen but this can also work to your advantage. Say for example you catch pocket 3's and find yourself sitting on 9000-12,000 in chips. A player that just busted out the hand before rebuys twice and immediately goes all in on the next hand with 3000 in chips. This is a good time to GAMBLE. There is a strong possibility that this player is on a hand like A/9 or K/10 and you can safely 'flip a coin' . You have to be willing to take chances like this in the first hour. I can't stress that enough. Low pocket pairs are decent 'calling' hands provided that the person who pushed all in doesn't have more than 1/3rd of your stack. This stands true for ONLY the first hour of an R/A tourney. Naturally, low pocket pairs are played completely different as the tourney progresses and the blinds increase.
 
Last edited:
ripptyde

ripptyde

Rock Star
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Total posts
448
So in short...the message here can be broken down into 5 points for the 1st hour of a rebuy add on

1. do not play 'poker'
2. be willing to commit to 6-8 rebuys
3. create a wild table image to induce action
4. see as many flops as possible with any hand above group 3
5. be fearless

Just remember that the 1st hour of an R/A setting tourney is NOT the place to showcase your no-limit-holdem prowess. Its the time to accumulate a stack...period. However you do it. Don't be afraid of calling off 3000 chips with 7/8suited with 3 all ins before you. Think pot odds and be willing to rebuy again if you dont make your hand. Point being is to abandon 'logic' with starting hands and understand the fact that you are only a 2 to 1 dog with a lower unpaired hand against a higher unpaired hand. Be willing to sacrifice a couple of buy ins for a shot at doubling/tripling up. The first hour is all about chip accumulation...not 'poker'

STAGE 2 (the second hour)

Here is a handy 'starting hands' guide which you might find useful. I found it useful papering the bottom of my birdcage...but you might find more use for it than I did:

http://www.casinogeek.com/texas-holdem-strategies-tips/startinghands.html

Also here is another resource that you will find very useful. This site covers many aspects of strategy/EV/probability theory/positional isolation and pre-flop strategy which you should have at your disposal for the mid to latter stages of an MTT ( I strongly suggest you post these odds and print them and display them near your poker control master control center)

http://www.onlinetexasholdem.com/
______

Ok time to get down to some real poker. The first hour is over. The all in maniacs have settled down and the blinds have moved to 75/150. With a little luck you find yourself sitting on a nice stack of 10-15K and the chip leader is sitting on close to 50K. STOP looking at the chip leaders count. This is a tourney thats going to last 5 to 6 hours. Dont chase !!. Remember that you are only playing against 8-9 others....not the entire field. This is the point in the tournament where you play PATIENTLY.

Now when I say patiently that doesn't mean you should go into camp mode. It means that you still need to be looking for affordable opportunities. SUCH AS: player A: raises 3X and you are holding 8/10s...CALL IT ! You have the stack so use it... this is a hand with potential. This is only one example. CALL with J/10os...CALL with Q/9s...CALL with low pocket pairs....CALL with A/2 suited . The 'meat' of the tournament is where you are looking to catch hands on the flop...period. Whether it be a flush draw or a straight draw or flopping two pair.....The medium stages of an MTT is where you have to be mixing it up, but cautiously....provided you have the stack (which hopefully you built from stage 1) to SEE FLOPS. Keep in mind with 75/150 blinds the raiser is generally raising the standard 3X bet of 450...you hold 8/10os with 9000 + in chips ....fold to the raise ? absolutely not...see the flop ! usually you are the only caller. This is usually a heads up situation...and guess what...you are FIRST to ACT after calling the raise. Ok so the flop missed you entirely......fine....LEAD OUT !!....bet the POT !!. 7 times out of 10 the original raiser is folding here. (if called...of course back off, but always be looking to take down small pots.)

The key here is stack leverage. If you have the stack you can AFFORD to be making calls against raises with less than group 2 hands with potential. If you miss the flop...fine. Cut your losses if your lead out bet fails. BUT if you are first to act....dont you EVER...I repeat EVER 'check' to your heads up opponent. All you are doing is giving him a free pass to bet when HE missed and force you to fold. ALWAYS show 'calculated' aggression'. If you are first to act, always lead out on the flop with a 'teaser' bet....find out where you stand....STOP 'checking' the flop after calling a 3X just because you missed the flop....Remember that chances are he missed too....so put the pressure on HIM to call, raise or fold.

Now this is in a (45) player tourney...not exactly a large MTT, but this hand serves as an example for leading out and following up a pre flop raise with a couple of limpers who appear to be demonstrating weakness.

PokerStars Game #3239216185: Tournament #16034762, Hold'em No Limit - Level V (75/150) - 2005/12/04 - 13:36:26 (ET)
Table '16034762 1' Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: SATAN SOUL (2620 in chips)
Seat 2: JohnyRedWorm (6665 in chips)
Seat 3: maxwell_sm (2315 in chips)
Seat 4: ripptyde (3690 in chips)
Seat 6: smoknjoecool (517 in chips)
Seat 7: Hammy_D2005 (3395 in chips)
Seat 8: KN IGHTLY1 (2245 in chips)
smoknjoecool: posts small blind 75
Hammy_D2005: posts big blind 150
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ripptyde [Kc Qd]
KN IGHTLY1: folds
SATAN SOUL: calls 150
JohnyRedWorm: calls 150
maxwell_sm: folds
ripptyde: raises 450 to 600
smoknjoecool: folds
Hammy_D2005: calls 450
SATAN SOUL: folds
JohnyRedWorm: folds
*** FLOP *** [Th 8s Ad]
Hammy_D2005: checks
ripptyde: bets 750
Hammy_D2005: folds
ripptyde collected 1575 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 1575 | Rake 0
Board [Th 8s Ad]
Seat 1: SATAN SOUL folded before Flop
Seat 2: JohnyRedWorm folded before Flop
Seat 3: maxwell_sm folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: ripptyde (button) collected (1575)
Seat 6: smoknjoecool (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 7: Hammy_D2005 (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 8: KN IGHTLY1 folded before Flop (didn't bet)

This tactic should normally only be attempted in a HEADS UP or max 3 way situation.

OK well before I get ahead of myself, lets get back to the strategies involved in the second hour. This is where the bulk of the field is going to be knocked out so its very important that you play smart. Don't ever go into a hand with the mindset that you are going to bluff...this is the wrong way to approach things. You want to be calling affordable raises with hands that have potential...but the key word here is AFFORDABLE. Don't be donking off 1/0th of your stack off pre flop with 3/5 suited just because it 'looks good' and you can possibly flop a flush draw...Be SMART about the hands you play and when you play them. Now if you can be limping in with suited connectors thats great....see as many flops as you can provided you have a chip reserve which affords you that luxury, but its a mistake to call hefty raises with suited connectors and weak aces and for the most part just asking for trouble.

Now many players make the mistake of 'waiting for cards' to build their stack in these stages. That is the wrong mindset.....which is not to say that you shouldnt be playing carefully but you must be able to identify OPPORTUNITIES to take down pots in many different scenarios. MTT poker is much more than just raising 3X with A/K and flopping an Ace...its seizing opportunities and refining the ability to smell weakness in your opponents. If you have the stack to play a hand with a marginal suited cards then DO IT. If you are in a heads up situation with middle pair...BET IT !...Stop waiting for the cards and the chips to come to you because they arent...you have to earn 90% of your pots by outplaying your opponent not just flopping a set or hitting TPTK. Calulated aggression is where you will earn most of your chips...not just by hitting the top pair on a flop...example >

You are on the small blind holding 5/2os..the blinds are 100/200 and you have an above average stack of 11,000 chips....early position limps...3 folds ...cutoff limps and it gets to you....this is a PERFECT opportunity to steal a sizable pot pre flop. Pump in a 6X raise of 1200 and show the limpers that nasty 1000 chip...odds are they are holding group 2 or less and barring the possibility of inadvertently stepping into a monster, you will take down 700 chips right there without opposition. The point here is simple.....your hole cards are irelevant pre flop. You are the only one who can see the ugly rags but your bet is screaming 'I have a monster !'....the mistake here would be to raise 3X with the same intention because the odds are you will get a caller. Weed them out with a mega raise. Now naturally if you get a caller then you can re-evaluate...but consider this: You get a caller and the flop is 2/7/4 rainbow....You caught low pair and you are first to act...what now ? BET !! Its likely that your opponent who just 'called' your massive raise is on a hand like A/10 or A/J maybe K/Q...so assume that he MISSED....take this opportunity to take the pot down right there. Now of course from time to time you will walk right into a monster but for the most part adopting this mindset of relentless aggression will give you the chip leverage you need to compete down the home stretch in the long run......this hand is a perfect example of this maneuver... (notice my stack and the stack size of the big blind)

PokerStars Game #3417797071: Tournament #16946638, Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100) - 2005/12/23 - 20:58:10 (ET)
Table '16946638 3' Seat #9 is the button
Seat 1: OutlawsDread (1600 in chips)
Seat 2: team shisler (1100 in chips)
Seat 4: deckhandj_ (1270 in chips)
Seat 5: Comptr (2960 in chips)
Seat 6: zekenine (7315 in chips)
Seat 7: Thor3365 (1840 in chips)
Seat 8: fastdenny (405 in chips)
Seat 9: ripptyde (3030 in chips)
OutlawsDread: posts small blind 50
team shisler: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ripptyde [8s Th]
deckhandj_: folds
Comptr: folds
zekenine: folds
Thor3365: folds
fastdenny: folds
ripptyde: raises 200 to 300
OutlawsDread: folds
team shisler: calls 200
*** FLOP *** [2s Kh 3c]
team shisler: checks
ripptyde: bets 500
team shisler: folds
ripptyde collected 650 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 650 | Rake 0
Board [2s Kh 3c]
Seat 1: OutlawsDread (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 2: team shisler (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 4: deckhandj_ folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: Comptr folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: zekenine folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: Thor3365 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: fastdenny folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: ripptyde (button) collected (650)

Now these stats are a little out of context from the previous content of this guide...but they are essential for you to understand for the approaching sections....primarily because you will be making plays that demand you have this knowledge at your fingertips

Its extremely important that you understand a few basic odds calculations here....

A: low pair vs overcards is a 77% to 23% favorite...THINK ABOUT IT !!

B: low or middle pair vs a flush draw is essentially a coin flip (46% to 54%)...think about this stat when you are up against an opponent you have severely outstacked and you put him on a drawing hand. Low pair vs a straight draw is even a slight favorite.

C: in a heads up situation...the odds of BOTH players catching a piece of the flop is roughly 30% (remember this when you raise with rags with only one caller and catch low/middle pair on a junk flop)

D: if you catch low or middle pair you STILL have seven outs to improve against top pair....basically an 80% to 20% underdog... but factor in the power of bluffing your pre flop raise and your opponents stack......in other words dont be so quick to lay down middle pair. If you can see the turn and the river cheaply....do it.

E: a set vs a flush draw is more than a 3 to 1 favorite....(77% to 23%)....again...consider your opponents stack when you move in on a draw.

F: OK this is one of the tactics I have used lately to tremendous success....if you are in a pot where you have a piece of the flop and a backdoor flush/straight draw....PAY for the turn (provided its affordable)....dont just fold your hand because you didnt catch top pair !!...you have a pair on the flop and a backdoor draw....in other words you have tons of 'outs' to improve your hand on the turn. Think about all the times you folded say 8/10 on a J/2/K flop and the turn gives a you a flush AND a straight draw....if you can afford it....call that bet and see the turn...you'll be surprised how often your hand improves....and never forget...'runners happen'

POT ODDS
http://www.onlinetexasholdem.com/texas_holdem_pot_odds.html

I guess it really comes down to 3 important factors when you are playing tournament poker:

KNOW YOUR ODDS: if you have a good mathematical understanding for the game you have the edge

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS: They're usually right...if you think you're beat...you probably are

THINK BEFORE YOU ACT !

I think the most important aspect of playing tournment holdem is not so much playing your cards...but playing your opponents cards....or his lack thereof. If your opponent pumped in a healthy raise pre flop and then the flop is junk....do you think he missed ? Seize these opportunities to take down small pots and fire out a bet on a junk flop after your opponent raised. USE YOUR POSITION !!

Curiosity is a curse in poker. If you keep paying to stay in pots you will have little chance of winning. Do not stay in a hand just in case a miracle card comes up, or you will go broke faster than a Star Trek fan on a sci-fi convention.

_______

Now here are some very important statistics you should know backwards and forwards regarding flushes and playing suited cards:

Starting Suited
Getting two suited cards as a starting hand is fairly common. The probability of being dealt two suited cards is 23.58%
The Flop
The probability of flopping three of you suit giving you a complete flush is .842%. The odds against you is 118:1.
The probability of flopping two of your suit for a four flush is 10.944 %. The odds are 8:1 against you.
The probability of only flopping one of your suit is 41.6%. The odds are 1.4:1.
The Turn
If you have a four flush after the flop the probability of making a flush on the turn or river is 34.97%. The Odds against you are 1.86:1.

The River
If you have a four flush after the turn the probability of making a flush on the river 19.6%. The odds against you are 4.1:1
Turn and River Runner- Runner
If you flop only one of your suit, the probability of hitting your suit on the turn and the river is 1.7%. The odds against you are 55:1. (did anyone explain this to the folks at PokerStars ?)
Finally for all the possibilities if you start suited and stay to see all seven cards (your two and the five board cards) the probability that you will make a flush is 5.77%. The odds against you are 16.3:1.
Simply put for every time you play two suited cards you will only make your flush about once in 16 tries. If you play low suited cards you still have to worry about a bigger flush beating you.
_______


Now this brings me to a VERY important point: Do NOT under any circumstances mess with the big stack when you have marginal cards.....this includes stealing or playing low and middle pair....this is a player that can break you....only make the aforementioned plays against players you have a signifigant stack advantage against....this is imperative....don't ever try to get fancy against players that can rail you. Personally if I am on the big blind with a rag hand....I'll often call a standard 3X raise just to see a flop and then make a play against him putting the pressure on because I have the stack to make that kind of move.....Executing this manuever against a bigger stack is a BAD idea unless you have a premium and I mean PREMIUM hand.

Ok this brings me to yet another extremely important aspect of middle/late stage MTT poker...

Defending the Blind

Now there is a lot of debate on this topic...some name pros contend that you should just resign the blind to a raise if you dont have a good hand (pocket pair, A/x or high suited connectors)...I disagree....again I reiterate....if you have the STACK....defend it and play the flop accordingly. If you keep folding your blind to a 3X raise..eventually you will create a weak table image and players will start to walk all over you..

For example....

You hold 10/3s and the button (1/2 your stack) raises a standard 3X....fold ? I think not....Call and look to catch a piece of the flop...and remember once again...YOU are first to act so even if you miss....assume the button (or cutoff) raise was a steal and LEAD out with a sizable (pot sized) bet....always be putting the pressure on the original raiser....always. If reraised...then retreat or re-evaluate the odds listed above according to stack size. Always be suspicious of button raises. Now if the 3X raise is coming from deep position then yes...fold your rags.....what we are talking about is playing junk cards against apparent steals and then betting the hand if you do catch a piece of the flop. (see items A & C )

I suppose this is a little overkill on the subject of lead out bets, but I think its very important that you grasp this concept in the grand scheme of a multi table tournament...where and when to use them in MTT's and how the size of your and your opponents stack plays into the equation.


Now lets move on to another topic I really have never really gone into in depth with...

BLUFFING

"The best horse doesn't always win the race."
-- Irish proverb

.

Ahhh the bluff. Its a beautiful thing if executed correctly. Its an ugly bitch if you screw it up. Only a small percentage of players really know how (and more importantly WHEN) to bluff properly in my opinion. Lets face it...bluffing is an 'art form' in the truest sense. Timing is everything...position is vital and there are a few factors involved to consider before attempting it.

Bluffing should be like eating vegetables -- it's good for you even if somewhat unpleasant. Don't think of bluffing as like candy, something fun, because too much fun will make you sick to your bankroll/stomach

First and foremost: NEVER and I repeat NEVER bluff into a multi way pot. Its just not worth it. Even with 3 in the pot you are bound to run into someone who is going to call you with low pair if its been checked down to the river and you suddenly pound in a pot sized bet representing the high card.

Another extremely important aspect of bluffing is that if you are going to do it....make it COUNT ! Dont expect to take down a pot with a timid bluff attempt. Bluffing is a commitment... and its imperative that you put the maximum amount of pressure on your opponent screaming strength. Simply clicking 'raise' is not going to drive your opponent out. Below is an example. Now I attempted this bluff for 2 reasons...# 1 is the river bet attempted by 'Mr Beever' stunk to high heaven like a steal after it was checked around twice...and # 2 is that his stack was small enough where if I represent the slow played Q he is almost certainly folding here. Granted this is in a cash game...but it serves the purpose for illustrating WHEN to attempt a bluff.

PokerStars Game #3384837542: Hold'em No Limit ($0.10/$0.25) - 2005/12/20 - 06:02:32 (ET)
Table 'Algieba V' Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: ripptyde ($28.75 in chips)
Seat 2: AlmostDumb ($37.20 in chips)
Seat 3: PT Player ($29 in chips)
Seat 4: EvD-187 ($6.55 in chips)
Seat 5: mastajinx ($24.30 in chips)
Seat 6: MrBeever ($25 in chips)
mastajinx: posts small blind $0.10
MrBeever: posts big blind $0.25
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ripptyde [Kh 6h]
ripptyde: raises $0.75 to $1
AlmostDumb: raises $1.25 to $2.25
PT Player: folds
EvD-187: folds
mastajinx: folds
MrBeever: calls $2
ripptyde: calls $1.25
*** FLOP *** [Qd 2h 4d]
MrBeever: checks
ripptyde: checks
AlmostDumb: checks
*** TURN *** [Qd 2h 4d] [2c]
MrBeever: checks
ripptyde: checks
AlmostDumb: checks
*** RIVER *** [Qd 2h 4d 2c] [Qc]
MrBeever: bets $3
ripptyde: raises $7 to $10
AlmostDumb: folds
MrBeever: folds
ripptyde collected $12.25 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $12.85 | Rake $0.60
Board [Qd 2h 4d 2c Qc]
Seat 1: ripptyde collected ($12.25)
Seat 2: AlmostDumb folded on the River
Seat 3: PT Player folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: EvD-187 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: mastajinx (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 6: MrBeever (big blind) folded on the River

Bluffing is probably the most improperly interpreted move in no limit holdem in my opinion. Many novice players bluff out of pure desperation or 'greed' for the pot. This is absolutely the incorrect mindset to have. The bluff should be used to steal SMALL pots for the most part. You really want to avoid risking your entire tournament life on an all in bluff after being called down on the flop and the turn solely out of desperation and thinking ' oh well I already spent all those chips anyway ' . Bad idea (even though I am guilty of that same move myself all too often) A bluff should be used sparingly at most and only attempted when you smell weakness in a heads up or maximum 3 way pot. I'll try a bluff of this nature after for example calling the remainder of the big blind from small blind position after 1 limper on a junk flop. You'd be surprised at just how successful you are just stealing small pots like this and how much it will help you in gaining that much needed leverage you need for the latter stages. You really don't to bluff too often, but you don't want to not bluff at all. It's an integral part of tournament play and must be utilized under the right circumstances.
 
ripptyde

ripptyde

Rock Star
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Total posts
448
Now some pros say that you should never show your bluffs...I wholeheartedly disagree. I love to show my bluffs because its the perfect set up for when you do have a great hand...Case in point....the two hands below were virtually back to back hands. When I showed my first bluff I basically destroyed all my credibility and trashed my table image as a bluffer....this was on purpose. I WANT the other players to think I am buying pots with overbets because most likely Ill get a call when I want it. The second hand again, I was 'betting low' after a healthy pre flop raise from a player I put on a strong Ace or King and he called my bet solely because of the move I made on the first hand. These two hands perfectly illustrate the reason why you do show bluffs:

PokerStars Game #3438253041: Tournament #17056745, Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30) - 2005/12/26 - 04:30:09 (ET)
Table '17056745 1' Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: Trout Man 4 (1480 in chips)
Seat 2: ripptyde (1490 in chips)
Seat 3: 1stORworst (1360 in chips)
Seat 4: ILOVE2POKER (1730 in chips)
Seat 5: SleezyB22 (1300 in chips)
Seat 6: BenRunkle (1620 in chips)
Seat 7: mmm 147 (2590 in chips)
Seat 8: Nemcyp (1930 in chips)
mmm 147: posts small blind 15
Nemcyp: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ripptyde [6c 4c]
Trout Man 4: calls 30
ripptyde: raises 60 to 90
1stORworst: calls 90
ILOVE2POKER: folds
SleezyB22: folds
BenRunkle: folds
mmm 147: folds
Nemcyp: calls 60
Trout Man 4: folds
*** FLOP *** [8h 5h Qh]
Nemcyp: checks
ripptyde: bets 300
1stORworst: calls 300
Nemcyp: folds
*** TURN *** [8h 5h Qh] [Js]
ripptyde: bets 1100 and is all-in
1stORworst: folds
ripptyde collected 915 from pot
ripptyde: shows [6c 4c] (high card Queen)
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 915 | Rake 0
Board [8h 5h Qh Js]
Seat 1: Trout Man 4 folded before Flop
Seat 2: ripptyde collected (915)
Seat 3: 1stORworst folded on the Turn
Seat 4: ILOVE2POKER folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: SleezyB22 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: BenRunkle (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: mmm 147 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 8: Nemcyp (big blind) folded on the Flop
.........

PokerStars Game #3438260893: Tournament #17056745, Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30) - 2005/12/26 - 04:32:43 (ET)
Table '17056745 1' Seat #8 is the button
Seat 1: Trout Man 4 (1420 in chips)
Seat 2: ripptyde (2015 in chips)
Seat 3: 1stORworst (970 in chips)
Seat 4: ILOVE2POKER (1940 in chips)
Seat 5: SleezyB22 (1300 in chips)
Seat 6: BenRunkle (1620 in chips)
Seat 7: mmm 147 (2425 in chips)
Seat 8: Nemcyp (1810 in chips)
Trout Man 4: posts small blind 15
ripptyde: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ripptyde [2c 3c]
1stORworst: folds
ILOVE2POKER: folds
SleezyB22: raises 90 to 120
BenRunkle: folds
mmm 147: calls 120
Nemcyp: folds
Trout Man 4: folds
ripptyde: calls 90
*** FLOP *** [8c 3h 2s]
ripptyde: checks
SleezyB22: bets 240
mmm 147: folds
ripptyde: raises 990 to 1230
SleezyB22: calls 940 and is all-in
*** TURN *** [8c 3h 2s] [6d]
*** RIVER *** [8c 3h 2s 6d] [5s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
ripptyde: shows [2c 3c] (two pair, Threes and Deuces)
SleezyB22: shows [Kh Jd] (high card King)
ripptyde collected 2735 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2735 | Rake 0
Board [8c 3h 2s 6d 5s]
Seat 1: Trout Man 4 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 2: ripptyde (big blind) showed [2c 3c] and won (2735) with two pair, Threes and Deuces
Seat 3: 1stORworst folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: ILOVE2POKER folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: SleezyB22 showed [Kh Jd] and lost with high card King
Seat 6: BenRunkle folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: mmm 147 folded on the Flop
Seat 8: Nemcyp (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Also here are some excellent links that cover bluffing in full detail and will undoubtedly describe the 'essense' of bluffing far better than I ever could but the previous two hand histories do a pretty good job showing the 'set up'

http://www.cardplayer.com/poker_magazine/archives/printarticle.php?a_id=12251

http://www.cardplayer.com/poker_magazine/archives/showarticle.php?a_id=14150

http://www.tightpoker.com/bluffing.html

http://casinogambling.about.com/cs/poker/a/bluffing.htm

____

Now this next move is one of my favorites and one that really catches your opponent by surprise. The RE-steal

Now we all should know by now what a blind steal is and when to attempt it....but how do you counter it ? From the SMALL blind position ! The button or cut-off raiser is just looking to steal the big blind and assumes that the small blind will just lay down his hand right away...but the RE-steal is a terrific way to gain some chips late and truly catches the blind stealer with his proverbial pants down. When you have been playing poker long enough you can spot blind stealers without looking too hard...so once in a while (and I stress 'once in a while') try this move...now again please note the size of my stack and the size of the raisers stack...I have him outstacked nearly 2 to 1. He calls the pre flop reraise but I caught middle pair which in my opinion was good enough to drive him out with a strong flop bet.

PokerStars Game #3428043245: Tournament #16686031, Hold'em No Limit - Level X (400/800) - 2005/12/24 - 23:30:00 (ET)
Table '16686031 71' Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: $uckoutking (5320 in chips)
Seat 2: mijita (10260 in chips)
Seat 3: Stainless CT (15305 in chips)
Seat 4: ripptyde (25395 in chips)
Seat 5: padillao (9529 in chips)
Seat 6: pockettens37 (37445 in chips) is sitting out
Seat 7: Duce_Bigelo (12122 in chips)
Seat 8: ThePoolMky (11785 in chips)
Seat 9: kellygirl63 (19650 in chips)
$uckoutking: posts the ante 50
mijita: posts the ante 50
Stainless CT: posts the ante 50
ripptyde: posts the ante 50
padillao: posts the ante 50
pockettens37: posts the ante 50
Duce_Bigelo: posts the ante 50
ThePoolMky: posts the ante 50
kellygirl63: posts the ante 50
ripptyde: posts small blind 400
padillao: posts big blind 800
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ripptyde [8h 5d]
pockettens37: folds
Duce_Bigelo: folds
ThePoolMky: folds
kellygirl63: folds
$uckoutking: folds
mijita: folds
Stainless CT: raises 800 to 1600
ripptyde: raises 4000 to 5600
padillao: folds
Stainless CT: calls 4000
*** FLOP *** [Th 2c 5s]
ripptyde: bets 12000
Stainless CT: folds
ripptyde collected 12450 from pot
ripptyde: shows [8h 5d] (a pair of Fives)

Notice that I showed my hand here...essentially sending the button raiser a message that I won't tolerate his steals

______

Now another tactic I have incorporated as of late is the early position limp with a premium hand ( AA, KK or QQ only )...with sizable blinds, if you limp under the gun with Kings or Aces...a good percentage of the time you'll get a raiser ahead of you. I know the impulse is to raise when you catch AA or KK but believe me, sometimes you are fortunate enough to trap someone who bets the ranch on A/K, A/Q or even a lower pocket pair. Timing is everything here...as soon as the cards are dealt, click 'call' as quickly as you can and sneak in the back door unnoticed and then look to come over the top on a raise. Sometimes it backfires sometimes it doesn't...but when you do get paid off you get paid off huge. You have 8 or 9 people to act ahead of you so just limp and let them do the raising for you. This is by far one of the best traps you can set in no limit holdem

perfect example:

PokerStars Game #3477434966: Tournament #16918809, Hold'em No Limit -
Level IX (300/600) - 2005/12/30 - 02:47:57 (ET)
Table '16918809 33' Seat #9 is the button
Seat 1: beerbong123 (6562 in chips)
Seat 2: huntm (8681 in chips)
Seat 3: ripptyde (50948 in chips)
Seat 4: Keepsdad222 (40020 in chips)
Seat 5: Darkness1531 (38382 in chips)
Seat 6: lymon11 (6697 in chips)
Seat 7: hogfan (1195 in chips) is sitting out
Seat 8: Twisted Mick (21994 in chips)
Seat 9: KID842 (8400 in chips)
beerbong123: posts the ante 50
huntm: posts the ante 50
ripptyde: posts the ante 50
Keepsdad222: posts the ante 50
Darkness1531: posts the ante 50
lymon11: posts the ante 50
hogfan: posts the ante 50
Twisted Mick: posts the ante 50
KID842: posts the ante 50
beerbong123: posts small blind 300
huntm: posts big blind 600
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ripptyde [Qd Qh]
ripptyde: calls 600
Keepsdad222: folds
Darkness1531: calls 600
lymon11: folds
hogfan: folds
Twisted Mick: raises 3000 to 3600
KID842: folds
beerbong123: folds
huntm: folds
ripptyde: raises 47298 to 50898 and is all-in
Darkness1531: folds
Twisted Mick: calls 18344 and is all-in
*** FLOP *** [6s 6d 5h]
*** TURN *** [6s 6d 5h] [4s]
*** RIVER *** [6s 6d 5h 4s] [3h]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
ripptyde: shows [Qd Qh] (two pair, Queens and Sixes)
Twisted Mick: shows [Kd Jh] (a pair of Sixes)
ripptyde collected 45838 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 45838 | Rake 0
Board [6s 6d 5h 4s 3h]
Seat 1: beerbong123 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 2: huntm (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 3: ripptyde showed [Qd Qh] and won (45838) with two pair, Queens
and Sixes
Seat 4: Keepsdad222 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: Darkness1531 folded before Flop
Seat 6: lymon11 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: hogfan folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: Twisted Mick showed [Kd Jh] and lost with a pair of Sixes
Seat 9: KID842 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)


_______


OK lets get back to the topic at hand...the MTT and the mid to latter stages. How you should be playing at this point is fairly tight but always looking for opportunities.

Now at this level 'calling' decisions become very important and its easy to get lulled into the mindset that K/Qos or A/J is a strong hand against a raise....especially if you have had to fold several orbits staring at nothing but junk cards. These types of hands are raising hands NOT calling hands. I know it hurts and its difficult to resist the temptation, but you have to get yourself in the mindset to lay these hands down pre flop unless you want to get trapped and subsequently railed. The deeper you get into an MTT the better the players you are sitting with (for the most part) and there is a big difference between raising with K/Q and calling with K/Q. Believe it or not it makes far more sense to call with low suited connectors/gappers than it does calling with a hand like A/J or K/Q....generally if you are calling a raise with A/J, K/Q, K/J you are dominated before the flop is even dealt so what you are banking on by calling a raise with low/mid suited connectors is that the raiser is on a high premium hand. You are simply betting 'low' by calling with say 4/5s or 6/8s and looking for a 'junk flop' to catch a piece and leading out betting your opponent was on a higher unpaired hand and completely missed.

Recently I was in a pot late in a tournament where there was a standard 3X early position raise...and a caller before it got to me. Im betting both players were on high hands so I called a good size raise with 4/5 of diamonds....the flop came K/4/5 rainbow and the original raiser bet almost 3 times the pot going all in essentially. I reraised the remainer of his stack and he called flipping A/K that went unimproved. Now in this case I destacked him and sent him to the rail..but imagine if I had called this same bet with K/J or K/Q...I'm the one who gets railed. Just keep that in mind when you are 'calling' raises down the stretch. Most of the time your opponent who initiated the raise is playing a high premium hand so calling a raise with low cards can be an excellent way to trap.

The ability to lay down a hand becomes just as important, if not more important than playing a hand. Each decision becomes more and more crucial with the ever increasing blinds..and the margin of error grows slimmer and slimmer as each player is eliminated. Each raise becomes a committment and your knowledge of fold equity becomes paramount as you lean harder on the shorter stacks with each passing orbit.

Here is an excellent article addressing 'fold equity' which you need to completely understand in order to compete in the latter stages of MTT's:

http://www.cardplayer.com/poker_magazine/archives/showarticle.php?a_id=14805&m_id=65565

____

Now I'd like to tell you a story about what happened to me on the final table of a $30.00 freezeout tournament which really taught me (the hard way unfortunately) on how important it is to consider your chip stack standing and the value of the prize payouts before making a move with what on the surface appears to be a monster starting hand.

The tournament started with over 1700 players and 1st place was a whopping $8500.00 and change. I played solid poker the entire tournament and found myself at the final table a few hours later with a big stack of roughly 400,000 chips and sitting comfortably in 3rd place just under 100K below the chip leader. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was within sight and I could almost taste it.

Well it seemed that every time I was on the big blind the short stacked button would push all in on me and I was forced to fold my blind numerous consecutive orbits. Quite frankly I let my ego get the best of me and I called an all in (20% of my stack) with 7/10s looking to bust him only to see him turn K/2 and both hands went unimproved. Even the next two orbits he did the same thing and I could stand it no more. Praying for a big hand on the big blind...lo' and behold I catch pocket Jacks. Boy oh boy I was lickin my chops as the action made its way around the table ever so slowly staring at that beautiful pocket paint. Each player took his sweet time folding, using the maximum amount of time alotted with so much at stake. All I could think about was pushing all in over the top of the inevitable steal from the habitual blind stealer on the button....and had plenty of time to think about it Well as everyone folded to the button...sure enough he pushed all all in for roughly 200K (about 1/2 my stack) when all of the sudden the small blind (chip leader) pushed all in !

I really didn't have a chance to process the complete scenario and what was at stake . All I had done for the past minute or so as the action made its way around was think about how I was going to punch all in over the top of the perpetual button blind stealer. I never considered the weight of the situation and how vulnerable my Jacks would be in a 3 way pot. So without thinking I almost instantly pushed all 350K into the middle of the pot with one fell swoop of the mouse. The cards turned and sure enough the small blind had KK and ironically enough the button had A/K and spiked his Ace on the flop. My heart sunk knowing that I had just committed an epic blunder and found myself drawing almost dead to 2 lonely outs that never came... railing me in 9th place for a meager payout in comparison to what was paid to the winner.

The lesson here is quite simple actually. When there is any lingering doubt whatsoever...FOLD ! There comes a time in an MTT when you stand to gain more by folding than by playing. Particularly when you have a big enough chip stack in comparison to the other players who are fighting off the blinds and the difference in prize money grows exponentially with each player getting knocked out. Since that momumental blunder, I have found myself folding A/K and even QQ to all ins that would essentially knock me out of a tournament and taking a pass rather than putting my tournament life at stake. Unless you have a hand like QQ, KK, AA or A/K...fold to aggression rather than invest a single chip in 'calling' a raise. Most pros will tell you that they like to be the aggressor...not the one calling with what appears to be a strong hand.

Late in an MTT you should be either raising, folding or pushing all in...period (with the exception of low to mid pocket pairs when you can fish for the set by calling an affordable raise no more than 10-12% of your stack) The game becomes all about stealing. Its a 'dance' really. Did you ever notice that late in an MTT when the blinds become bigger and bigger that you see less and less flops ? Thats because it becomes all about the blinds where players are calculating fold equity on the spot and putting more and pressure on the short stacks...which is why its imperative that you are adhering to the guideline(s) I listed above. Now on occassion IF its an affordable raise, you should call with suited connectors/gappers in a multi way pot...but by no means should you play them heads up or just defending the blind...in the long run this becomes way too expensive.

_____

Now before I move on to the final section of this essay I want to say a few things that you have to remember.

You will not win every tournament you play in. You will bust out on bad beats...you will get outdrawn and your steals will be countered. You will make mistakes

All you can do is put yourself in position to win...there are never any guarantees. But you also have to realize that there comes a point in an MTT where you will have to go 'all in' and risk your tournament life. There is absolutely no way you can ever win an MTT without risking it all at least 3 or 4 times if not more. You have to play fearlessly and abandon your thoughts of 'what if'. Tournament poker is not a game of absolutes, nor is it a game where the best hand always wins. You have to accept that and just hope and pray that down the stretch you can avoid getting sucked out on. The problem is that it happens more often than people realize. Even A/A will get outdrawn by the worst hand in poker (7/2os) 1 out of 8 times...and your overpairs will get beaten 1 out of 4 times. A/K vs A/2 loses close to 1 out of 3 times so even though you think that just because you are the favorite and you DESERVE to win....accept the fact that the percentages even in the most optimum scenario do not always swing your way.

In fact this is the hand that busted me out of an MTT recently. 1172 players started and I was firmly in the top 5 with 28 to go when this disaster struck. But this kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME...its unavoidable and part of late stage MTT poker.

Dealt to ripptyde [Kh Ks] DalTex24: folds STARHILL: folds fallrock: folds sixgun62: folds LVentling: folds geokam8: calls 2000 ripptyde: raises 12000 to 16000 geokam8: calls 12000 *** FLOP *** [Jd 2s 8s] geokam8: bets 4000 ripptyde: raises 53735 to 57735 and is all-in geokam8: calls 53735 *** TURN *** [Jd 2s 8s] [6d] fallrock has returned *** RIVER *** [Jd 2s 8s 6d] [5c] *** SHOW DOWN *** geokam8: shows [6s 5s] (two pair, Sixes and Fives) ripptyde: shows [Kh Ks] (a pair of Kings)

All you can do down the stretch is put all your chips on the table when you believe you have the best hand. The rest is up to the poker Gods. The sooner you come to grips with that sobering fact...the better equipped you'll be to cope with the bad beats that will often dash your dreams of winning an MTT. But remember that there will be a time when you DON'T get outdrawn and double up late giving YOU the chip lead and the necessary leverage to close to deal. Thats all you can ask for is an opportunity to be in that position.


_____


THE FINAL TABLE

What dreams are made of. The reason why we play poker in the first place. The ultimate pinnacle of poker achievement.

If you made it this far you are buzzing with excitement and the feeling of accomplishment is almost overwhelming. You outlasted a huge field of players and are sitting with the best. This is the time to shine and finish what you started

Now the first thing to remember once you see that 'congratulations you have reached the final table' message is to PLAY TIGHT !! Each player knocked out means hundreds if not thousands of dollars to you so its time to guard that chip stack but its also time to USE IT.

This does not mean you don't keep stealing....you do and it doesn't mean you should stop playing with calculated aggression...you should. But what it means is that you are folding most hands that you would normally play to a raise. This means A/J, K/Q. K/10, Q/10 etc. Remember what I said earlier that late in an MTT you should either be raising, folding or going all in...NO calling !! This holds especially true for the final table when the amount of a raise represents a signifigant portion of your stack with the blinds at ultra high levels. At this point you should pretty much stop playing suited connectors and weak aces unless you are on the big blind and just calling a steal move looking to trap.

The key in final table play is FOLD EQUITY. You should be looking for each and every opportunity to steal blinds from the smaller stacks. Even if it means the occassional UTG or EP raise. Remember that everyone else is playing tight as well so if you use your position properly...you can steal enough blinds to give you the leverage you need to cross the finish line and take home the bracelet.

Ironically, much like the 1st hour of a rebuy tournament, the final table of an MTT becomes moreless an all in pre flop contest, so in essence what you are doing is either stealing blinds or flipping coins. Post flop poker is less and less a factor with blinds reaching the level where the standard 3X raise becomes moot. It becomes harder and harder to play group 2 hands without a total committment so choose your hands carefully.

In reality its very difficult for me to convey ultimate strategy for the final table because each situation is different....stack sizes, opponent tendencies, position and payouts..but the one thing that I hope to pass on to you is that calulated aggression is imperative. I really can't stress that enough. If you are folding 7/2os in the cut off position (with no action prior to it reaching you) and the big blind is short stacked...you are giving away chips...its as simple as that. You have to be constantly leaning on shorter stacked players regardless of your hole cards or the blinds are ultimately going to eat away at your stack.

 
ripptyde

ripptyde

Rock Star
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Total posts
448
Now this brings me to what a like to call the '2 to 1 knockout'

So you catch a medocre hand like Q/9s in the cut off. You have 600,000 in chips and the big blind has 100,000. The blinds are 15K/30K and you decide to go for a steal. You raise it up to 45K in position when suddenly the big blind goes all in for another 55K...what now ?

CALL !!

There are several different scenarios here but barring the possibility of the re-raiser catching a monster like AA, KK or QQ...you have a LIVE CARDS scenario. If you are lucky enough he might even be on a low pocket pair where you find yourself in a coin flip situation.

Now the beauty of this situation is that even if you lose you still have a good sized stack and the upside is that you have a decent shot to knock out a player thereby increasing your payout 1 more notch.

Now even if the reraiser has A/K, A/J or another unpaired hand that dominates you...you are only a 2 to 1 underdog to crack him. Think about that. You have a 4 to 1 chip advantage and a 2 to 1 chance to rail him. Take the chance !! This is what I am talking about when I talk about taking risks. Don't fold to the reraise ! But keep in mind this is a manuever you are only attempting against a player you have a sizable chip advantage against. If you lose the hand it doesn't cripple you...if he loses it rails him.

Now on the opposite end of the spectrum if you are on the big blind and the short stacked button, cut-off or small blind goes all in against you....even if you have marginal cards....make the call !! (provided it only represents less than 1/4 of your stack) You can absorb losses like this whereas your short stacked opponent cannot. Many times making a call like this turns out to be a pleasant surprise when the cards are turned over and you discover that you have the best hand against a blatent steal attempt but in most cases you find yourself in a 'live cards' situation.

In the first big MTT I won, I found myself as a huge chip leader with 5 left. I was sitting comfortably on a stack of 1.4 million in chips and the short stack was fighting off the 20K/40K blinds with about 250K in chips.

I caught a monster (9/4os) on the big blind and the short stack (who was in the cutoff position) raised all in for all 250K. Now a lot of players fold in this situation looking to conserve chips...but I called. Why ? For 3 reasons

A: the difference in prize money for 4th and 5th place was $1500.00 and it was an opportunity to knock him out

B: I was banking on my opponent holding an unpaired hand

C: I had him oustacked by almost 6 to 1 and even losing this hand I would still be a huge chip leader

So I make the call and the cards are turned and he is holding A/K

A/Kos (66.9%) vs 9/4os (33.1%)

Well needless to say I spiked my 4 on the turn and his A/K went unimproved railing him in 5th place. You see this player had very little 'fold equity' left as such a short stack..meaning that the big blind players with larger stacks were less likely to fold to his all in...especially me with such a huge chip advantage. (Naturally I had to endure a barrage of profanity laced insults from this {observer} player...he even remained at the table for the rest of the tourney berating me for my horrible call)

So the bottom line here is that if you have a big stack at the final table....USE IT ! You can afford small losses and you can afford to come into pots as a 2 to 1 underdog. There is so much at stake late in the tourney and each player knocked out means that much more prize money to you...so stop waiting on premium hands when you find yourself with a big stack. You also have to be relentless when attacking the blinds...the blinds at this point of the tourney are essentially your bread and butter and if your steals are executed properly, should give you the much needed leverage to take it all the way.

_______

Well I guess that pretty much covers it. There is so much more I could add to this guide but a lot of the tactics and moves you make are going to come only from personal experience and a 'feel' for the game which really can't be taught. Experience is truly the best teacher and there is only so much you can pick up from book, and essays such as this strat guide.

I will probably be updating this guide over the course of the year and adding sections which I feel are applicable but until then if you have any specific questions, comments or even criticisms...I'm very interested to hear them. If you ever find yourself deep in a multi table tournament and need a little help...I'd be happy to help. I can be reached via the following:



email: Ripptyde@yahoo.com
Yahoo messenger: Ripptyde
 
stormswa

stormswa

Legend
Joined
Dec 31, 2006
Total posts
3,546
yea I cant read this, sorry I really want to since I love rebuys but I just cant do it.
 
heatfan03

heatfan03

Visionary
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Total posts
646
this looks liek a great guide i will read it tomorrow :)
 
Irexes

Irexes

Legend
Joined
Oct 10, 2006
Total posts
7,016
I appreciate the time put into this Rip.

I read the first post and though I am super-agg myself in rebuys when first in a pot I throttle back once I treble up. I also don't seek coinflips on purpose once I've doubled up, calling an all in with 33 is something I will very, very, very rarely do if ever.

You are same in the general area of the game I play but there's some significant differences in execution from what I've read so far. Interesting post though, thanks for taking the time.

I'll get to the rest later.
 
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