your poker evolution
Miikka Anttonen continues to teach the basics of MTT. In his last article, the Finnish professional exposes several outdated concepts of a poker tournament game. Nowadays, almost everyone has their own opinion on any issue, and only few believe that they can be mistaken. This is especially true for poker players. When you spend a lot of time at the tables, you inevitably come across a lot of widespread myths and theories, the inaccuracy of which has not been questioned for a long time. The next five are Mikka’s favorites.
Many players believe that to provide an effective pressure on opponents in MTT, it is required to have a big stack. The owners of the biggest stacks at the table often consider themselves the "captains of the table", and the short stacks obediently allow them to subordinate the game to their will. All this is complete nonsense. First, each hand is played by itself. Poker is not football, where you can take the field with a match plan and fulfill it in 90 minutes. In poker players are dealt two cards, with which they try to play as well as possible, and then the story repeats. When deciding on the action in poker, it is necessary to consider a number of factors. Yes, one of such factors is the size of your stack. However, it does not mean, that you should play aggressively with a big stack, and tightly - with a short one. In many cases, you are obligated to play exceptionally loosely with a short stack, and to follow what cards dictate with a big one.
Example 1. Bubble is coming. A big stack to your right opens about a 100% of hands. You have 15-20 blinds. What should be your strategy?
1. Fold all hands, allowing the table captain to do, whatever he wants.
2. Attack and take the dead money.
Example 2. It’s the second day of the World Series main tournament. You come to a new table with a big stack and see Feodor Holtz, Doug Polk and Phil Ivey to your left with stacks, smaller than yours. What should be your strategy?
1. To attack their blinds with any two cards as the table captain.
2. Try to play solidly, avoiding difficult situations against those, who are superior to you.
In both cases, the second option should be preferred.
Do you need to press the table in some situations, when you have a big stack? Undoubtedly. But your decisions should always depend on the opponents and the opportunities they provide. If neighbors allow you to violate justice, it would be foolish not to use it. But do not force events and do not let others do it. Let your destiny depend on you, but not on the guy in the cap of the lorry driver, who raises every hand.
Not long ago Miikka Anttonen sat at the final table of a turbo tournament in Australia. The only decent rival was an Australian girl, who played in a tight-aggressive manner. When a critical moment has arisen there were seven players in the game, and the stacks of three, including Miikka, were four blinds or fewer. The middle stack amounted 12 blinds. Chipleader, who collected most of the chips and opened each hand, made a triple raise from the first position. And the girl in the third position pushed 10 blinds with 5x 5x in response. He called with Ax Kx, and she dropped out to the 7th place. If Miikka was in her shoes, he would doubtlessly throw out 9x9x. She also took it as a cooler: "I had a pair and a stack of 10 blinds, I could not do anything." Before the hand was dealt, she had had a second or third stack, and she was guaranteed to sit several people out. All that was required from her was to play tightly and let others lose. Instead, she preferred to obey a non-existent law, requiring the holder of a short stack to push with any pair. There is no rule that forces you to perform an action only because you have a short stack. Sometimes it's wise to go all-in with 10 blinds having unsuited 2x7x. In others cases with the same stack, it's better to fold such a strong hand as 7x7x. These are extremes, but such situations occur from time to time.
By extension, with a short stack (less than 15 blinds) and without a very strong hand, we push all our chips, if at least one of two conditions is met:
we have fold equity;
the pot has a lot of dead money.
Especially often it is heard from the players, who lost the stack at the early or mid stage of the tournament. They get big stacks and then deal them out in the most ridiculous style, trying to win the pot at all costs. Justification? "I play for the first place." In such situations, another poker proverb is more appropriate: "The tournament can not be won on the first day, it can only be lost". Exactly! You can not win the World Series tournament in one day, and you do not have to personally knock out all the opponents. You're not Arnold Schwarzenegger. Your business is to play solid, fundamentally proper poker and make the necessary adjustments to your opponents, as reliable information about their weaknesses arises. Sometimes you have to play super-aggressively, but not because you play to be first.
Imagine the situation: you play in a tournament with a buy-in of $1,000, with a thousand participants and a starting stack of 10,000. At the end of the first day you are on the river with a flush draw. The pot amounts to 30,000 and you have 30,000 behind your back. You are sure that the opponent has a ready hand. To go all-in or not depends on several factors, but there is no playing for the first place among them. Just imagine: there are 10 million chips in the game, the middle stack on the final table will be nearly over a million, and the blinds - about 20,000/40,000. 30 thousand chips, for which you are fighting, sum up less than one blind on the final table. It is absurd to think that if you do not win this pot, you’ll lose the chances of winning the tournament. But if you push and get a call, you definitely can not win.
To be fair, sometimes such a poker strategy has the right to exist. It becomes more justified when the coveted prize is relatively close. If you manage to get a chipleader stack on the bubble of the final table, you will get an excellent bonus in the form of stolen blinds and ante from the shorter stacks. In this situation, Miikka is ready to agree a the player, who justifies the failed bluff by the words "I played for the first place". And yet, when a lot of money is on the line, every action becomes rather responsible. The line between reasonable, justified risk and poker suicide is very thin. In the end, sometimes your goal will be the 2nd or 3rd place in the tournament, as in the case of the girl from Australia.
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