Final Table MTT Strategy

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Reaching the Final Table on MTTs:

Once you’ve reached the final table you need to start adjusting to short-handed table strategy and open up your positional hand ranges.  Players lucky enough to reach the final table should set a goal of winning the tournament now.  The difference between coming 9th and 1st in multi-table tournaments is massive.  At Carbon Poker for example 1st place receives around 30% of the prizepool in comparison to 9th place, which receives about 2%!

It’s obvious then, how you play at the final table is going to have a massive weight on your long-term profits

ICM & Pot Equity

ICM (Independant Chip Model) is an extremely useful concept when playing at the final table.  ICM is about making decisions in terms of pot equity rather than chip equity, and is subsequently about making decisions based on your expected winnings from a tournament relative to your chips.

The reason ICM is important for the final table is because it helps you make optimal tournament decisions about when to call, shove, or fold – and the hand ranges for doing so.  I strongly recommend using ICM software such as SNGWizard to improve your final table strategy.

Final Table/Short Handed Strategy

Some players have different methods and styles for the final table, and you may choose to play super tight and wait for others to bust or you can play more agressively with a push or fold mentality.   

The most mportant part of final table strategy concerns the M-Ratio i.e. making decisions based on the size of blinds and antes relative to you and your opponents stacks.   In deep stack tournaments players tend to shove less pre-flop with more action cominh post-flop.  However in regular MTTs (180-man for example) the value of pots will be so big pre-flop relative to your stack, so that it’s inevitable players will be pot-commited and all-in before the flop. 

Example: The blinds are 500/1000, with 100 antes, and the average stack is 50,000.  With 9 players remaning, the pot will be worth 2,400 before any raises.  Let’s imagine MP raises (3/4 pot) and is then re-raised by MP+1 (3x original raise), the pot now equals almost 10,000.   The player after MP+1 now receives around 2:1 odds, meaning he only needs a hand that will win 33% of the time to break even.  However, for every other player that calls, the odds will be even highe, encouraging players to shove all-in.

The point here is that sometimes the pot odds by the time the play comes round will determine your game.  By playing tight and folding weak hands in early position, you’ll prevent yourself getting caught in unprofitable and difficult hands. 

Small Stack Strategy

If you’re short stacked in the final table of an MTT (less than 15x big blinds) than you need to double up. Of course you can choose to sit out and hope that someone else leaves and gives you a higher payoff, however it also won’t win you a tournament. With over 20x BBS at the final table, you should try to play your normal game/tight aggressive.

Big/Medium Stack Strategy

For medium and large stacks you should be applying the same loose agressive strategy that got you to the final table.  Calling small stack players’ all-ins with your marginal hands in late position and basically find any cheap risk-free way to double up.  You should also avoid getting pot-commited too early against effective deep stacks.  There should be easier ways to make money (unless you’ve got a great hand in position ofcourse).  Taking advantage of table position is very important for stealing pots pre-flop and squeezing, along with being opportunistic. 

Change Your Style to Short-Handed

Although I’ve spoke on this before, adjusting to short-handed play is extremely important to finish well in tournaments.  As the game withers down to the last few players you have to open up your game.  Remember that in a short-handed MTT table with four or five players left, you should be raising preflop in position with a wide range of hands including any Ace suited or pocket pairs or high cards.  For premium hands like AK or AQ you should be 3betting or shoving early for value.  Although you don’t want to put your entire tournament risk on the line, by the time there’s only 4 players left there isn’t really that much to lose.  

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