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need help with MTT strategy

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need help with MTT strategy

Old 08-24-06, 07:38 PM
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need help with MTT strategy

ever since a few weeks ago ive been playing some MTTs (in vegas and here in socal) and i keep running into the same problem:

i will always play tight to begin with, ill win a few pots, never really get involved with anything big unless i have the nuts (or close to it). i play smart, make my moves, and usually make it to the first break with ease (3 rounds or so). ill usually end up with more chips than i started with too.

here comes the problem: once this happens, i realize im in deep shit. people are dropping out so merely having more than the starting chips doesnt matter. the blinds rise so fast that im basically now forced to one move: all in.

eg. in this tourney im playing, you start with 2200 in chips, blinds start like this: one 25 blind, then two 25 blinds, then 25/50, and so on. however, the levels are only for 10 minutes so the blinds rise fast.

like today i was playing, did well - won 3 mediumish pots and never got hurt too bad (did lose 300 when i didnt call two all ins with my 10Jd on a board of QJ9...ended up being a good move). soon, our table was broken up. i end up at another table. i have about 2500 in chips or so.

problem is there are only 7 other people...id say 2 have about what i have or less but everyone else has double or far more. one had like 10000. and now the blinds are 300/600. im screwed. i have like 4 BB left!

i havent even done anything! i never made a wrong play and now im short stacked? damn, this sucks. and looking back i cant even figure out what i could have done to prevent this.

so with me being the BB in the next hand i couldnt afford to sit around anymore. i go all in with AJ (best hand in awhile) and everyone folds til the BB...he has AK, easy call....i flop the nut flush but i hit nothing and bam...im done.

all that work, all that play. gone. you win 10 pots but lose one and it all cancels out and you are out yourself.

it sucks and i dont know how to fix it. should i loosen up? i really wasnt getting any hands but the ones that i did, i bet and won those medium pots. and watching all the flops, there were barely any hands i regret not playing because none hit anyways! i could have played perfectly today but it wouldnt have mattered - didnt get the cards.

i think the ones who end up there with the big stacks are the ones who won the BIG pots in the early rounds (they had AA and someone happen to have KK, or they flop the nut straight when someone flops a set, stuff like that...). theres no way you can just sit back and patiently attack to pick up a few chips here and there. never works.

how do i fix this? im sick of playing tight, not getting involved unless i have good hands, watching everyone else fight it out, but then find myself blinded out because i couldnt get involved.

should i start limping in with more hands? should i be raising with more hands to steal blinds early on? problem with that is there are 9 other people and one is probably going to have something...if you make one big move on someone and it misses, itll cripple you and then you are certainly done and wont even make it to the first break.
Old 08-25-06, 09:37 AM
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Have you read the Harrington on Hold 'Em books (Volume 1 and Volume 2 specifically)? The bottom line is you can't wait until you get down to 4 BB or so to make a move because you have little or no fold equity left.

Look for a good spot to steal a few blinds when you are in position a few orbits earlier instead of waiting around till someone with just a marginal hand has enough pot odds to call your all-in when you are short stacked.

When the blinds start coming at ya fast, there's a LOT of value for being first in the pot for a raise.
Old 08-25-06, 10:43 AM
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Nothing wrong with limping in to see cheap flops early. Contrary to your belief, the big stacks are not the ones who are getting AA, KK early and doubling up. The big stacks are those who are playing 97s, T8, 44, and flopping monsters eliminating the overplayed overpairs or tptks.

Blind stealing is useless early. Bluffing in general is unrequired in early stages.

like djbrown mentioned, read HOH 1&2. His M section is probably the most important reading in tournament publication history regarding mtt play.
Old 08-25-06, 11:03 AM
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djbrown: problem for me is, how do you steal blinds when:

a) you get no hands
b) there are so many people and AT LEAST one is bound to have a hand

and even if you do steal blinds, they are so small (so what if i steal 200 or so?). what im talking about is people who have HUGE stacks, which obviously came from one or two double ups or hitting HUGE pots. i dont think necessarily they were the ones playing the best, merely had the right hand at the right time in the early stages. if they didnt get lucky, the other person would have their chips and be sitting in their position with a huge stack.

doesnt matter to me who has the chips since they are all strangers. all i see is someone who has a ton of chips.

i just dont feel stealing a few blinds here and there will give me enough chips to compete in the later rounds. (eg, lets say im on the button, 3 limpers before, blinds are 50/100...i could try to steal the 450 if i make a strong push but if only have 10J or K4, thats not going to cut it...and once i try that move and it misses, im done...)

and its not like i was just waiting for premium hands - i was waiting for ANY hands. even if i loosened up, the flops came such that i would have been blinded out much earlier. when you dont get cards you cant really win much.

and yes i will get harringtons books.

Last edited by atari2600; 08-25-06 at 11:07 AM.
Old 08-25-06, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by actyper
Nothing wrong with limping in to see cheap flops early. Contrary to your belief, the big stacks are not the ones who are getting AA, KK early and doubling up. The big stacks are those who are playing 97s, T8, 44, and flopping monsters eliminating the overplayed overpairs or tptks.
fair enough but i still couldnt play anything. i didnt get suited connectors or pocket pairs to try and limp.

i cant just limp with crap and hope to hit.

and even if you do hit you need someone to bet with you, which doesnt always happen.

these people all had double, triple or more of the starting stacks. they were getting something.

i think the one problem i had was the levels just went up too fast.

Blind stealing is useless early. Bluffing in general is unrequired in early stages.
i agree.

like djbrown mentioned, read HOH 1&2. His M section is probably the most important reading in tournament publication history regarding mtt play.
thanks. will do.
Old 08-25-06, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by atari2600
djbrown: problem for me is, how do you steal blinds when:

a) you get no hands
It isn't a steal if you have Aces.

Originally Posted by atari2600
b) there are so many people and AT LEAST one is bound to have a hand
Monsters under the bed.

In general, play speculative hands for cheap when the blinds are low.
Old 08-25-06, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by atari2600
i just dont feel stealing a few blinds here and there will give me enough chips to compete in the later rounds. (eg, lets say im on the button, 3 limpers before, blinds are 50/100...i could try to steal the 450 if i make a strong push but if only have 10J or K4, thats not going to cut it...and once i try that move and it misses, im done...)
In your scenario, if you make a big or allin raise, who's going to call? The original limper is unlikely to be holding a big hand, the other 2 limpers are 99.9% unlikely to be holding a big hand either.

You do not need cards to make a blind steal, even if they call most of the time your opponent misses the flop anyways. Plus aggressive play will hide your rag handed monsters.

Amir Vahedi said it best "In order to live, you must learn to die", or in simpler terms, No guts, no glory.
Old 08-25-06, 12:04 PM
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you are probably playing fine. When your stack is about at 10BB, is when you should be making your stand. 4BB is way too small of a stack. You have the odds to call on almost any two cards at that point.
Old 08-25-06, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by actyper
In your scenario, if you make a big or allin raise, who's going to call? The original limper is unlikely to be holding a big hand, the other 2 limpers are 99.9% unlikely to be holding a big hand either.
ill only get called by monsters that will have me beat. so overall i probably win a few small blinds but if i get unlucky, im out. doesnt seem like the reward is worth the risk.

You do not need cards to make a blind steal, even if they call most of the time your opponent misses the flop anyways. Plus aggressive play will hide your rag handed monsters.

Amir Vahedi said it best "In order to live, you must learn to die", or in simpler terms, No guts, no glory.
i think my main point is, so what if i steal a few blinds early on? they arent that much anyways and even if i do, ill still be far behind the big stacks in the later rounds and be close to blinded out. i could have stolen 1000 more in blinds in my last tourney, still had 3500 (instead of 2500) when i went to that new table and STILL been a short stack with only 6 BB left.
Old 08-25-06, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by gimmepilotwings
you are probably playing fine. When your stack is about at 10BB, is when you should be making your stand. 4BB is way too small of a stack. You have the odds to call on almost any two cards at that point.
exactly - i made the all in push and he had AK unfortunately.

however, im trying to get to the point where i dont have only 4 BB. like i said i barely lost any pots yet the blinds rose so fast that i couldnt keep up. to stay at 10 BB or above would require some HUGE pots.

im trying to avoid having to "make a stand" so soon. i want to play some poker, not an all in fest where we just see who gets more lucky. but i didnt have a choice yesterday.
Old 08-25-06, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by atari2600
ill only get called by monsters that will have me beat. so overall i probably win a few small blinds but if i get unlucky, im out. doesnt seem like the reward is worth the risk..
What I'm saying is that in that scenario, your most likely not against any monsters, so its definately worth the risk. I'm not saying do it all the time, but once or twice a tourney, and its easy $.

Originally Posted by atari2600

i think my main point is, so what if i steal a few blinds early on? they arent that much anyways and even if i do, ill still be far behind the big stacks in the later rounds and be close to blinded out. i could have stolen 1000 more in blinds in my last tourney, still had 3500 (instead of 2500) when i went to that new table and STILL been a short stack with only 6 BB left.
- you can win a lot more than just the blinds with aggressive position play
- by opening with a variety of hands you can disguise your monsters
- even though certain strategies might not have made a difference in the tournament you played, it may work in future ones.
Old 08-25-06, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by atari2600
i think my main point is, so what if i steal a few blinds early on? they arent that much anyways and even if i do, ill still be far behind the big stacks in the later rounds and be close to blinded out. i could have stolen 1000 more in blinds in my last tourney, still had 3500 (instead of 2500) when i went to that new table and STILL been a short stack with only 6 BB left.
You need to steal later in the tourney, not earlier. Steal when the blinds are huge. When you have a low M, if it is folded to you on the button, a push with just about any two is +EV (depending on the likelyhood of the blinds to call with weak hands). The later your position, the lower your hand requirements can be for open pushing when your stack gets small relative to the blinds and antes.
Old 08-25-06, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by actyper
- you can win a lot more than just the blinds with aggressive position play
- by opening with a variety of hands you can disguise your monsters
- even though certain strategies might not have made a difference in the tournament you played, it may work in future ones.
Excellent points.

NLHE, and particularly in MTT format, is a game played best in position. If you are in a pot, and have position, learn to read the texture of the flop.

You'd be surprised how often a continuation bet, in position, can take the pot down even when you don't have anything. You have to be willing to bet when you miss the flop if the texture looks right.

Giving up your positional advantage by checking down is the quickest way to leave a MTT.

And, as pointed out, sometimes you just don't get the cards, and there's not much you can do about it. But follow the same solid techniques and you'll end up better in the long run.

I always like to remind myself that "Opening the betting with a raise is rarely a bad play; simply calling a re-raise out of position usually is".

Last edited by djbrown; 08-25-06 at 02:13 PM.
Old 08-25-06, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by actyper
- you can win a lot more than just the blinds with aggressive position play
- by opening with a variety of hands you can disguise your monsters
- even though certain strategies might not have made a difference in the tournament you played, it may work in future ones.
but as soon as you run into a big hand or a hand the guy just wants to play, you are screwed.

and there just isnt enough time or hands to disguise monsters. i could try and raise with say JQd (decent suited connector), but i could get a few callers or worse a reraise. then if i dont hit the flop im done. they dont give enough chips to let you make a mistake or get unlucky, even once.


maybe its just this tourney which is too fast for my liking.
Old 08-25-06, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeremy517
You need to steal later in the tourney, not earlier. Steal when the blinds are huge. When you have a low M, if it is folded to you on the button, a push with just about any two is +EV (depending on the likelyhood of the blinds to call with weak hands). The later your position, the lower your hand requirements can be for open pushing when your stack gets small relative to the blinds and antes.

whats an M?

i did exactly what you said when i played yesterday. i didnt steal much early on because they were small. then they were up to 300/600 and i tried and i got hit with AK. im out.

at those points, not only do i have like 4-5 BB at most, but everyone else has me easily covered so they can always call.

im trying to figure out how to avoid having to steal or rely on it so much. i dont know how i was suppose to get 5000-7000 chips at that point with the cards i was given. there was nothing i could do it seems.

MAYBE i could have stolen 1000 or so chips but it still left me severly short stacked and an easy target.
Old 08-25-06, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by djbrown
Excellent points.

NLHE, and particularly in MTT format, is a game played best in position. If you are in a pot, and have position, learn to read the texture of the flop.

You'd be surprised how often a continuation bet, in position, can take the pot down even when you don't have anything. You have to be willing to bet when you miss the flop if the texture looks right.
i agree with this and it does work well for me.


And, as pointed out, sometimes you just don't get the cards, and there's not much you can do about it. But follow the same solid techniques and you'll end up better in the long run.

I always like to remind myself that "Opening the betting with a raise is rarely a bad play; simply calling a re-raise out of position usually is".
nice quote. im really trying to stick to that too.
Old 08-26-06, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by atari2600
but as soon as you run into a big hand or a hand the guy just wants to play, you are screwed.

and there just isnt enough time or hands to disguise monsters. i could try and raise with say JQd (decent suited connector), but i could get a few callers or worse a reraise. then if i dont hit the flop im done. they dont give enough chips to let you make a mistake or get unlucky, even once.


maybe its just this tourney which is too fast for my liking.
If you can't see a few flops to decide and need to hit a monster early in order to survive, it sounds like a tourney decided way too much on luck for my tastes.
Old 08-26-06, 02:01 AM
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Bluff...if you play tight you can use this image to your advantage, in the first two levels of play using position (i.e. close to the button) in a un-raised pre-flop pot make a fairly large raise with any two cards and no matter what the flop brings (hopefully a rainbow, no straight, no pair flop) make a pot size bet, if someone still follows but doesn't re-raise make sure you continue with the turn bet...DO NOT CHECK THE TURN!!! By now you're pretty committed to the hand again make a half or pot size bet on the river.

Obviously it's way easier said than done but I would say more than half the times I have tried this it's been very successful. The only players that can call all the way down are those with a middle set or aces (players with aces tend to never fold).

Plus those 10 minute blind levels really do suck you need at least 15 minutes minimum to get any type of real play in without it becoming an all in-fest within 30 minutes. Find a better structured tourney.
Old 08-26-06, 01:17 PM
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hal; i dont like it. some people will not lay down hands and if this plan fails you are done. all for the chance to steal a few small blinds.

id like to find a better tourney around here (socal) but so far no luck.
Old 08-26-06, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by atari2600
whats an M?
M = your stack divided by the pot before any betting occurs (Big blind, Small blind, and all antes)

Go out right now. Get Harrington on Hold Em Vol 1 and Vol 2. Read them. Win money.
Old 08-26-06, 07:59 PM
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im gonna get the books.

but i still think the tourney format at the casino is impossible to win without being the luckiest person of the day.

i need to find a better tourney. that one is too fast.
Old 08-27-06, 10:23 AM
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I know what you mean. The main tournament that I go to is decent until the point when 12-15 players remain. I make the final table a little more than half the time I go but it is so quick at the final table that I have never seen anyone make a move other than all in there.
Old 08-27-06, 12:55 PM
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yeah i hate that. its not poker. its a random luck draw fest...someone goes all in, if someone calls, then its just whoever gets more lucky. why dont they slow down the blinds or give people more chips? this is rediculous.
Old 08-27-06, 01:16 PM
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Once you've paid to enter the tournament the casino's not making any more money off of you. Raise the blinds quickly and the tournament ends more quickly.

I used to play a bunch of tourneys at a local casino and their blind structure had the same flaws. Still a 100 person tourney would take 6+ hours to run.

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