Shoving from Early Position in a Tournament

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Early Position Shoving in Tournaments: 

Shoving all-in pre-flop is a common approach to accumulating chips, either to steal the blinds or for value.   Most pre-flop shoves take place in mid-late position because this is whereit is most effective – less players will call and you have better information on your opponents.  

However, shoving all-in preflop from early position is much harder to get right. On the one hand, shoving all-in from early position is a sign of weakness (you might be short-stacked having to pay the blinds next round), yet on the other hand it’s a sign of strength because it indicates a very strong hand. 

Getting the balance right is a really important skill to master. 

Never Blind-Steal Shove from EP in the Early Stages of Tournament  

Never shove from EP to steal the blinds in the early stage of a tournament.  The blinds and pots are too small for this to pay off.

Only if you are short-stack should you be shoving from EP in the early period of tournaments – and only for value.  With a stack below 10BBs you will get called too often by players behind you and even with marginal hands (mid-pairs) opponents will get decent odds to call you.  For example, shoving with A9 against a tight calling range of 88+, AT, KQ and AJ+ gives you 32% equity, but you’ll always be plagued with -EV if you’re shoving from early position with 9 players left to act.                                                                                                      

Middle Stage EP Shoving 

Once the antes have kicked in shoving from early position becomes profiable.  The value of chips in the middle of the table improves the $EV (tournament equity).  

For example, blinds are 100/200 and 25 antes  and they’ll be 500 chips in the middle before a card is dealt.  Compared to 300 chips in the previous blind levelyou’ll be adding 25% to your stack for each successful blind steal. 

Your cards are still the most important factor when shoving EP or UTG.  This is because your calling odds are still too high to steal with any hand you stumble across.  The M-ratio and stack sizes of your opponents gets really important because this will affect your success rate and fold equity.  It’s difficult to provide an exact range of hands you should be shoving with in EP because it premises on your effective stack size and the tightness of the table. 

Nevertheless, you can value shove from early position with any premium/good starting hands 77+, AK, AQ, AJ.  Stealing from early position can include lower pockets and suited connectors against tight opponents.  You can shove with anything that holds up or has implied value. 

Shoving From EP in the Final Tournament Stage 
They’ll come a crucial point where shoving all-in pre-flop is better than opening 3-4BBs.  As your stack slips into the 10-20BB territory shoving with anything and everything yields greater expected equity.  You are guaranteed to see all of the community cards and a 60% of making a pair, rather than open-raising with 25% of your stack and folding to a 3bet leaving precious chips on the tble.

Mixing up your game by open-shoving with a varied range from early position is also important.  If you’re only open-raising your premium hands and shoving your worse quality hands then anyone with a decent tournament HUD will catch you out.

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