Playing Different Stacks in Tournaments

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Playing Stacks Differently in Tournaments

You should always change the way you play in tournaments depending on your stack size and M-ratio.  Big stack sizes can cover more variance and bad beats and will get called less pre-flop in comparison to small stacks in MTTs.  Thus there is a big different in how you should play.

Let me make an interesting point here; sometimes you can still have a smallish stack and slowplay or back-raise premium hands like AA or AK to trap opponents depending on their tendencies.  Most players with less than 30BBs will be desperate to shove the turn with TPTK.  However against an agro opponent with a high agression stat post-flop, by limping with AK and checking the flop it makes our hand look very weak.  Our opponent would’ve anticipated us to bet or even shove with a winning hand or A10+, which tends to fold most of our opponent’s calling hands like A7 or J10 or less.  But by checking,  we give our opponent an extra opportunity to shove all-in and bluff with hands that we have dominated such as A8s, broadway cards or pocket pairs.  The lesson is that even with a small chip stack you can get lighter calling value by slow-playing premium hands.

Big Stack Strategy

We start with the best situation: being big-stacked. Having a big stack is a massive advantage.  You can think of a being deep stacked on the button as a vantage point for you to blind-steal from weaker players. I will always 3bet bluff on tight tables with broadway cards, suited connectors or A10+.  You can make calls without worrying about your tournament life; yet you can also sit our hands knowing that you can wait for a great hand to move on.

The key to playing with a big stack is being aggressive, yet not aimlessly giving chips away.  Although you can afford to play a looser game I think the majority of this should come from MP and LP.  You cannot afford to start opening up your range below AJ from UTG or early position for example since this still remains unprofitable.  There are too many players left to act. From position however, you can afford to open-up and start  out your 3betting for bluffs and value.  Rather than only opening with AJ+/JJ+ for example, you can start opening up your 3betting value range to JQs/K10s/KQo type hands.  These are still fold to 4bet hands but will generally you will win more chips in the long term.  The ability to balance your 3betting range will also help you to get more players calling your 3bets light when you have a AA/KK.

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When confronting an aggressive player the best strategy is to be check-calling.  When up against a TAG MTT player (13/8) then try entering pots with either a big pair or high suited connectors.  It’s also good not to raise pre-flop with AK in such positions as you want to trap these hands against TAGs.  When slow-playing AK from pre-flop against a TAG, if you miss the flop then it’s an easy fold yet if you hit TPTK then you’ll get more value from his pocket pairs and lower Ax/Kx hands.

Medium Stack

Medium stacks are between 30-50 BBs.  If you have enough chips to play three or four hands to the river (making a bet on each round) then you’ll have a medium stack. Incidentally, this is probably one of the hardest stacks to build a sound strategy around because although you’re in an average/safe position, a single badly played hand or spot of bad beat can turn you into a short stack.

The way you should play a small stack in a tournament then is TAG.  Focus on your top 80% of hands pre-flop and be prepared to let pots go on the flop.   Avoid confro

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