Today we reach the end of our series about MTT's. In my previous article I reviewed some hands and discussed topics like not getting stacked to lightly, bubbletime and reducing your opening-raises. Today's article is about the phase with only two tables left.
The biggest difference in the end-stages of a tournament compared to the early- and middle-stages is that the blinds are much bigger in relation to your stack. As a result, fewer flops will be seen as there is simply no room for this in many cases.
Finding good spots
One table to go and we'll be sitting at the final table. This is probably also the one thing your opponents are thinking about with only 18 players left in the tournament. The line you adopt now greatly depends on your stacksize. Larger stacks will usually open more, while the smaller stacks will be concerned with finding good spots to double up.
Keeping hold of a stack, in other words doubling up, is essential when you have reached the last two tables. You don't want the blinds to eat away at your stack and you want to try to reach the final table with a nice stack in order to have a shot at first place. At this point it should always be your goal to go for the win. Too many players will desperately try to reach the final table when there are 12 players left that they let their stack diminish and, as a result, will never lay claim to one of the top three spots where the big money is. In the long run, this will cost you a lot of money. You are better off coming first once and then finish in 9th place three times.
Finding good spots is not something you immediately get right the first time. You will have to compare numerous situations with each other and talk about them with other players who can give you some solid advice in this matter. Even if the plan fails a couple of times this is not the end of the world. What's important is that the play was +EV in the long run and not that it went wrong once or twice. If you find a good spot and come into the pot raising but get re-raised five times in a row, this is of course anything but an ideal result but in the long run you will win chips with it.
In the hand below there are 16 players left and the blinds are at 600/1200 with 150 antes. In my opinion, I'm making a big mistake here.
Full Tilt Poker Game #6561610722: $13,500 Guarantee (1r+1a) (49165982), Table 13 - 600/1200 Ante 150 - No Limit Hold'em - 17:35:48 ET - 2008/05/25
Seat 1: Pappe_Ruk (58,427)
Seat 2: YoungSupremacy (25,038)
Seat 3: nakkis123 (26,231)
Seat 4: IWEARGOGGLES (26,510)
Seat 5: aaajack (45,218)
Seat 7: jAMBAZZ (37,270)
Seat 8: Akaperion (17,561)
Seat 9: el grapador (14,990)
Pappe_Ruk antes 150
YoungSupremacy antes 150
nakkis123 antes 150
IWEARGOGGLES antes 150
aaajack antes 150
jAMBAZZ antes 150
Akaperion antes 150
el grapador antes 150
aaajack posts the small blind of 600
jAMBAZZ posts the big blind of 1,200
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Pappe_Ruk
el grapador folds
Pappe_Ruk raises to 3,025
IWEARGOGGLES raises to 26,360, and is all in
Uncalled bet of 23,335 returned to IWEARGOGGLES
IWEARGOGGLES wins the pot (9,050)
Akaperion stands up
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 9,050 | Rake 0
Seat 1: Pappe_Ruk folded before the Flop
Seat 2: YoungSupremacy folded before the Flop
Seat 3: nakkis123 folded before the Flop
Seat 4: IWEARGOGGLES (button) collected (9,050), mucked
Seat 5: aaajack (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 7: jAMBAZZ (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 8: Akaperion folded before the Flop
Seat 9: el grapador folded before the Flop
Here I make a standard raise to 2,5 bb. Nothing wrong with that you might say, but what about the stacks behind me. The players in seats 2, 3 and 4 all have ideal re-shove stacks. These are stacks with roughly 15/20 bb. With a stack like this you still have enough fold equity and you can add a large percentage of your stack to your pile of chips. So, because I have three players sitting behind me with a large stack, it wasn't a very good idea to raise here because the chance is high that one of three players will push. I therefore should have adjusted my openings-range to the circumstances. All hands with which you can call an all-in should be raised here. The range here is something like 66+ and JSs+.
The deeper you get into a tournament, the more you will see players push on the button or in the small blind. This happens because people are forced to hold on to their stack and not let the blinds eat away at it. Because so many players will push from the button and the small blind, you can also widen your calling range. Of course this will also depend on the player and the situation etc. There are various articles and books that include tables where you can find out with what hands you can push and call with. It is, however, very hard to say what the best option is in every situation. This will largely depend on the gameflow and your opponents. If, for example, a very tight player suddenly goes all-in for 10 bb in the small blind, I'm not just going to call him with A6. If, on the other hand, this is a very loose player, then this is an easy call.
Reraising with air
A play that is often used to collect some chips is re-raising preflop as a bluff in order to pick up the pot preflop. With the blinds and antes increasing this play becomes more and more interesting.
Being able to find the spots where this is possible is also very important.
The hand below was played in a $1050 freezeout on PokerStars, as I couldn't find any good examples in my hand histories of the $55 single rebuy on Full Tilt.
PokerStars Game #18475722602: Tournament #92869577, $1000+$50 Hold'em No Limit - Level XIV (1500/3000) - 2008/06/29 - 22:33:12 (ET)
Table '92869577 59' 9-max Seat #7 is the button
Seat 1: loluno123 (98929 in chips)
Seat 3: *$lim* (117202 in chips)
Seat 4: JasonGray (50688 in chips)
Seat 5: Shizzleness (78788 in chips)
Seat 6: Pappe_Ruk (99469 in chips)
Seat 7: late_entry (68053 in chips)
Seat 8: MrWolfAA (164450 in chips)
Seat 9: V_RouNder (110714 in chips)
loluno123: posts the ante 300
*$lim*: posts the ante 300
JasonGray: posts the ante 300
Shizzleness: posts the ante 300
Pappe_Ruk: posts the ante 300
late_entry: posts the ante 300
MrWolfAA: posts the ante 300
V_RouNder: posts the ante 300
MrWolfAA: posts small blind 1500
V_RouNder: posts big blind 3000
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Pappe_Ruk
Shizzleness said, "note: cant fold anything"
*$lim*: raises 5500 to 8500
Pappe_Ruk: raises 18000 to 26500
Uncalled bet (18000) returned to Pappe_Ruk
Shizzleness said, "ja"
Pappe_Ruk collected 23900 from pot
Pappe_Ruk: doesn't show hand
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 23900 | Rake 0
Seat 1: loluno123 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: *$lim* folded before Flop
Seat 4: JasonGray folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: Shizzleness folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: Pappe_Ruk collected (23900)
Seat 7: late_entry (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: MrWolfAA (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 9: V_RouNder (big blind) folded before Flop
The pot is opened by the player in 2nd position who has been pretty active up until this point (20/18). He raises to 8,800 and I'm sitting in the CO. Up until this point I had played relatively tight and had a solid image at the table. Before I even had my hand I already decided that I was going to raise any2 in this position because I thought it was a nice spot. The only player I was worried about was the player to my direct left because he could shove with a very wide range of hands. The players in the small- and big blind have seen me re-raise very rarely and therefore won't just re-raise me for no reason.
Because Slim is raising in 2nd position, JasonGray won't just re-raise him with a random hand and neither will Shizzleness. The two players in the blinds both have healthy stacks and don't desperately need to make a move and have time to wait for better spots. For all these reasons I decide to re-raise here. In this situation I am risking 26,500 to win 15,400. This means I need to win the pot preflop 58% of the time. Because I assumed that I would pick up the pot a lot more often than that I decided to raise here. It gets folded around to Slim and he insta-folds.
Bear in mind, I don't just do this for the fun of it and also not against just any opponent. There are so many things involved when making a move like this that I cant say it's always a good idea.
Flatcalling with monsters
Flattcalling with monsters is something I see happening more and more. Especially when the blinds are high this happens regularly. Players do this for the following reasons:
- You don't give away the strength of your hand.
- You can often still get your opponent to fire out a c-bet.
- Whenever there are some aggressive players in the blinds, the chance is higher that they will try and squeeze and you might get all your money into the pot preflop.
Some disadvantages of flatcalling with monsters are:
- Some players might be quicker with putting you on a strong hand. If you often play against the same opponents it is also important to vary your range and not only flatcall with AA/KK.
- Your opponents might hit something on the flop, which could lead to you losing a large pot.
Decreasing stack in relation to the blinds
When your stack starts decreasing in relation to the blinds it is important that you think about a couple of things. Once your stack is around 15-20 big blinds it's not a very good idea to keep on raise-folding. Whenever you open and a player puts you all in, make sure you have a hand with which you can actually call. I see a lot of players fold in these situations and it's just a waste of chips. The chips you are risking here to pick up the blinds and antes are worth a lot more than the chips you can win if you pick up the blinds and antes. With a stack of 15-20 it's a better idea to start re-pushing lighter against lose openers. By doing this you pick up the raise from the lose opener AND the blinds and antes. The disadvantage of this move is that every now and then you will be called by a good hand and get eliminated from the tournament.
From this point on there's only one move left and that is all-in! Re-shoving with a marginal hand makes no sense anymore as you have no more fold equity left. The range of hands you want to go all-in with is up to you, but make sure not to wait too long before you make a move, otherwise the blinds will eat away at the little chips you have left.
Once you reach the heads-up stage you are playing a completely different game. There is only one opponent left and the strength of your hands increases dramatically. In heads-up play, the stack sizes in relation to the blinds are very important. The smaller this relation, the more hands you will need to shove with instead of raising (/folding). Adjusting to your opponent is also very important. Let's say he re-raises a lot. In that case it might be a good idea to limp more and see how he reacts to that. Limping is also a good idea if you feel like you have an edge on your opponent once it comes to postflop play and therefore want to see more flops.
In this tournament my heads-up opponent was relatively passive. As a result I raised almost any2 on the button and could often pick up his blind. There is a lot of value in this because the difference in stack sizes increases by 2 big blinds every time.
Another mistake is when players do exactly the opposite; defending their blinds too much. When playing against a weaker player this might still be possible, but that won't often be the case in a heads-up of a MTT. 3-betting, on the other hand, is a good way to pick up pots preflop. Try to balance your range here and don't only 3-bet your good hands as this becomes too predictable.
I hope you enjoyed reading my articles and are able to find some use for them.
GL @ the tables!