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Tournament Strategy Pappe_Ruk Part 2 – The Middle-Stage

Tournament Strategy Pappe_Ruk Part 2 – The Middle-Stage 0001

Part 2: The middle-stage

Last week I wrote about the

early stages of a multi-table tournament

. Here we discussed things like preparing for a tournament, your table image and hand selection. Today we will carry on with the middle stages and everything that comes with it.

In this article, we will assume the middle stages of a tournament to be the time from when antes come into play up until we reach the last two tables. In part 3 we will then talk about the final stages of a tournament.

Once the antes come into play during a tournament, a lot changes for me. Here is a short summary:

- There are now more chips in the pot preflop so it becomes more enticing to steal the blinds.

- Your opponents will know this as well and will also adjust their game accordingly.

- The size of the pots you play are going to increase in relation to your stack size, so you will need to make sure to play pots differently in some situations than you normally would.

- You will see fewer flops because pots will be decided preflop more often.

We will come back to all of these points throughout the course of the article when looking at the hand histories and the explanations that go with it.

The first level in which antes were introduced was the 120/240-25 level. So before the flop, there was now 120+240+8x25= 560 in the pot. This makes it a lot more enticing to raise preflop because you can pick up a lot more chips. Once the antes come into play I also start to adjust my opening-raises. While in the early stage I would just open with a standard 3-4x BB raise, I will now often reduce this to 2,4 – 2,7 times the big blind.

Some reasons for this are:

- You make sure the pots stay smaller on the flop, giving you some more leeway to make plays. In a tournament like this I expect to generally have a greater edge on the flop than my opponents.

- With a preflop raise of less than 3xBB, you will need to win the pot less often to make this play profitable. You will often get the same result with a smaller raise and the number of chips you win stays the same. Therefore it is also less of a setback if you get re-raised and you have to fold. By reducing your preflop raises you will loose less chips in the long run.

Back to the action!

In the example-hand below I wake up with JJ in the small blind. Everyone folds around to the very aggressive player on the button, who makes a standard raise of 3xBB. The button has me covered so the effective stacks are 34 big blinds. With stacks like these it isn't common to re-raise all-in after a raise of 3 big blinds. You will loose a lot of value against worse hands here and loose a lot of chips against better hands. This is obviously not what you want.

Because I had already played quite a few hands against this player, I decided to raise to 2,325 and insta-call an all-in. He shoves, I call and win the hand.

Nothing too interesting here you might say.

However, there are a couple of things to say about this hand;

- The antes have been introduced to the game, and as a result he will open a lot of hands on the button to pick up the pot preflop, which widens his opening-range compared to when there were no antes in the game yet.

- I had already played quite a few hands against this player, so it was likely that he didn't give my 3-bet a lot of respect. Therefore, there was a relatively high possibility that he would 4-bet us with quite a wide range of hands. Also, the fact that I can still fold after a 4-bet plays an important role.

Something that I think is also very important when playing tournaments is that you, before even making an action, already decide what you will do if an opponent plays back at you. I knew, before making a raise here, that I was going to call and all-in. This is very important. The same is true when raising in the cut-off. Before making the raise, decide for yourself whether you are going to call an all-in from the players sitting behind you. When stealing blinds it is also important to make sure that you aren't committed against the shortstacks sitting behind you.

Imagine the blinds are 200/400 and you are in the CO with 94o and two players behind you have a stack of less than 5K. In this situation I would never raise with a hand that I'm not willing to go all-in with. You will have to get a feel for this, but that will happen once you play more and gain more experience with these sorts of situations.

Full Tilt Poker Game #6560300927: $13,500 Guarantee (1r+1a) (49165982), Table 10 - 120/240 Ante 25 - No Limit Hold'em - 15:47:58 ET - 2008/05/25

Seat 1: no not baxter (6,160)

Seat 2: playforthefun (16,266)

Seat 3: Pappe_Ruk (8,124)

Seat 4: onefreekingtime (4,147)

Seat 5: Rachel0226 (17,688)

Seat 6: Ymac69 (8,373)

Seat 7: Durazo (11,921)

Seat 9: Bobby_Kimball (6,109)

no not baxter antes 25

playforthefun antes 25

Pappe_Ruk antes 25

onefreekingtime antes 25

Rachel0226 antes 25

Ymac69 antes 25

Durazo antes 25

Bobby_Kimball antes 25

Pappe_Ruk posts the small blind of 120

onefreekingtime posts the big blind of 240

The button is in seat #2

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to Pappe_Ruk {j-Spades}{j-Clubs}

Rachel0226 folds

Ymac69 folds

Durazo folds

Bobby_Kimball folds

no not baxter folds

playforthefun raises to 720

Pappe_Ruk has 15 seconds left to act

Pappe_Ruk raises to 2,325

onefreekingtime has 15 seconds left to act

onefreekingtime folds

playforthefun raises to 16,241, and is all in

Pappe_Ruk calls 5,774, and is all in

playforthefun shows {j-Diamonds}{a-Clubs}

Pappe_Ruk shows {j-Spades}{j-Clubs}

Uncalled bet of 8,142 returned to playforthefun

*** FLOP *** {7-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}{9-Spades}

*** TURN *** {7-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}{9-Spades}{10-Hearts}

*** RIVER *** {7-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}{9-Spades}{10-Hearts}{6-Spades}

playforthefun shows a pair of Sixes

Pappe_Ruk shows two pair, Jacks and Sixes

Pappe_Ruk wins the pot (16,638) with two pair, Jacks and Sixes

*** SUMMARY ***

Total pot 16,638 | Rake 0

Board: {7-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}{9-Spades}{10-Hearts}{6-Spades}

Seat 1: no not baxter folded before the Flop

Seat 2: playforthefun (button) showed {j-Diamonds}{a-Clubs}and lost with a pair of Sixes

Seat 3: Pappe_Ruk (small blind) showed {j-Spades}{j-Clubs}and won (16,638) with Jacks and Sixes

Seat 4: onefreekingtime (big blind) folded before the Flop

Seat 5: Rachel0226 folded before the Flop

Seat 6: Ymac69 folded before the Flop

Seat 7: Durazo folded before the Flop

Seat 9: Bobby_Kimball folded before the Flop

The following hand brings us to another important aspect of tournament poker; looking for good spots to increase your stack without risking too much.

After the previous hand we only played one pot with AA, which wasn't anything special, but increased our stack by 3K. What is important, however, is that in the last two orbits I showed two strong hands at showdown, which might give me more respect from my opponents.

Blinds have reached 140/280-25, as a result of which there are now 620 chips in the pot before the flop.

Everyone folds and again playforthefun raises in the CO to 2,3 times the big blind. I find {7-Hearts}{8-Hearts} on the button and decide this is a good spot to 3-bet.

- I'm in position with a hand that is perfect for a situation like this one.

- Again the effective stacks are 34 big blinds, giving me some leeway to make some plays.

- During the last two orbits I only played two hands, showing AA and JJ.

- In case of a re-raise form the small- or the big blind, I am not yet committed and can still easily fold.

After playforthefun raises to 627 I decide to make a relatively small 3-bet to 1,725. I do this because I don't mind playing a pot against him in position. If he decides to call, the pot will be 4,070 on the flop, giving me enough room to play. If he folds I pick up 1,247 chips and if he goes all-in I only loose a small part of my stack.

I'm expecting him to fold here the majority of the time, making this a very profitable play against him in this situations. This doesn't mean that you should go on 3-betting 87s all the time, as that would not be a good idea. Imagine playforthefun would have had a stack of 5K or the blinds would have had a small stack. In that case I would have obviously never made this move.

Full Tilt Poker Game #6560507489: $13,500 Guarantee (1r+1a) (49165982), Table 10 - 140/280 Ante 25 - No Limit Hold'em - 16:04:32 ET - 2008/05/25

Seat 1: no not baxter (9,457)

Seat 2: playforthefun (10,439)

Seat 3: Pappe_Ruk (19,258)

Seat 5: Rachel0226 (17,363)

Seat 6: Ymac69 (9,430)

Seat 7: Durazo (12,961)

Seat 8: Hodge7 (9,795)

Seat 9: THE_GOLDMINE (5,375)

no not baxter antes 25

playforthefun antes 25

Pappe_Ruk antes 25

Rachel0226 antes 25

Ymac69 antes 25

Durazo antes 25

Hodge7 antes 25

THE_GOLDMINE antes 25

Rachel0226 posts the small blind of 140

Ymac69 posts the big blind of 280

The button is in seat #3

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to Pappe_Ruk {7-Hearts}{8-Hearts}

Durazo folds

Hodge7 folds

THE_GOLDMINE folds

no not baxter folds

playforthefun has 15 seconds left to act

playforthefun raises to 627

Pappe_Ruk has 15 seconds left to act

Pappe_Ruk raises to 1,725

Rachel0226 folds

Ymac69 folds

playforthefun folds

Uncalled bet of 1,098 returned to Pappe_Ruk

Pappe_Ruk mucks

Pappe_Ruk wins the pot (1,874)

*** SUMMARY ***

Total pot 1,874 | Rake 0

Seat 1: no not baxter folded before the Flop

Seat 2: playforthefun folded before the Flop

Seat 3: Pappe_Ruk (button) collected (1,874), mucked

Seat 5: Rachel0226 (small blind) folded before the Flop

Seat 6: Ymac69 (big blind) folded before the Flop

Seat 7: Durazo folded before the Flop

Seat 8: Hodge7 folded before the Flop

Seat 9: THE_GOLDMINE folded before the Flop

Pot control

Pot control is a very important aspect in tournament poker. Pot control indicates that you don't let the pot become to big with a one-pair hand, for example. For this tournament I didn't really find any good examples for this, but other PokerNews authors such as RaSZi and Julien Nuijten have already covered this topic very thoroughly, so I won't get into it any more.

When you're beat, you're beat.

A mistake often made by many players is calling big bets lightly with medium hands, even when deep in a tournament. It is important that you are able to fold hands in certain situations when it is clear that you're beat. There will be plenty of better spots for you to try and increase your stack, so try to hold on to your chips. Here is an example:

The blinds are 250/500 with an ante of 50. You have a stack of 20K and you decide to raise to 1,275 with KQ in the CO. A good player on the button flatcalls your raise and the other players fold. The button has you covered. The flop is Q-9-7 rainbow. You make a c-bet of 2,300 and the button calls. Now the question is with what range he will call you on the flop. This will consist of AA/KK/AQ/KQ/QJ/JT/T8/86/99/77 and complete air to float you. Floating means that he calls you with nothing in order to pick up the pot on a later street. I will get back to this in Part 3 of this article series. I would usually cancel out hands like QQ/JJ/TT because they will often be raised preflop.

Recently there have been a lot of players just calling with AA/KK in this situation in order to provoke a squeeze from the blinds or to trap the opponent. Therefore we can' t count these hands out. The turn is a 3. Because his range still contains a lot of hands that we beat, we now bet partially for value and partially to defend our hand. We bet 4,800 and the button puts us all-in for about 10K more. I see many players calling here, thinking they have top pair and therefore the nuts. This is, of course, nonsense. Without having specific reads on this opponent, this is an easy fold. You have shown a lot of strength by betting out of position twice on a relatively draw-heavy board. Your opponent knows this and will therefore put you on a decent hand. Because you are likely to have a strong hand, he wants to get all the money into the pot now with his overpair (AA/KK), set (99/77) or AQ. Of course now you can say that he knows that you know this etc etc, but then we're getting into 2nd, 3rd and more levels of thinking, so lets not go there for now.

Bubbletime!

For many players this is the time to really go at it, especially if you have a large stack in front of you. For me it greatly depends on my table whether or not I will start raising more. If you're sitting at a table with a lot of shorties who will just through their chips into the pot, raising more would obviously not be a great idea. On the other hand, if they are very passive and just waiting for the bubble to burst, raising more can be very +EV. A less favourable situation for me is when I myself have a large stack and I have a lot of medium stacks at the table with me who can easily raise with all kinds of hands without committing themselves. As a big stack you will often be seen as the aggressor, and this can end up working against you, especially during the bubble phase. If you know that this is what your opponents think of you, you can use this to your advantage by opening tighter. If you get re-raised now you will actually have a hand and can play for stacks.

This is all for the middle stages of a tournament. Feel free to comment or ask questions on the forum. As mentioned before, the next and final article will cover the final stages of a multi-table tournament, so make sure to check back for that.

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