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Poker Tournament Strategy Video Review

Hi Marty,

Just wanted to take a moment and thank you for the time and effort you have put into your M-Zone videos. To think that this is a free resource is just mind-boggling; anyone, beginners and seasoned veterans of tournaments alike, would do well to watch these poker tournament strategy videos.

As a very brief backgrounder on me, I have been playing these low-stakes tournaments off-and-on for several years now, but mainly grind it out in cash games, where I show a better ROI. I do enjoy the tournaments very much, though, because of the added layer of strategy infused by stack sizes and the rising blinds (and of course, the prize pools). I tend to do better in slower-moving structures where the stacks are deep and the blinds rise more slowly, enabling me more time to find a solid edge before shipping my chips in.

I have read all the Harrington books at least twice and am constantly devouring all things poker, and I definitely appreciate your videos. I wish I had seen your bankroll video when I was just starting out - it would have saved me a lot of lumps in the early going.

I also have to say you opened my eyes a little bit in regards to your attitude towards making the money. The vast majority of books the pros offer tell you to “play to win,” that simply folding into the money is not worth the significant time investment you have put in and that you need to try to build a good-size chip stack until the money bubble bursts. That is fine I would say if you have a medium sized or better stack or if you have a huge bankroll that can withstand big swings in variance, but there is definitely some merit to your theory of trying to cash (when you’re right on the cusp) before putting your short stack and tournament life in jeopardy. I remember specifically an example hand when you were close to the money, and either in the cutoff or on the button with K9, and the action was folded to you. Before watching your video, ten times out of ten I’m pushing there and trying to build my stack, “playing to win.” Most of the time I pick up the blinds. Maybe I even win a showdown sometimes. But what happens when somebody picks up 99 or better in the blinds and I am crushed? Or a loose player wants to take a shot at me with K-10 or a ragged Ace? I am behind and I have forfeited a chance to at least wait ’til I’ve moneyed to make a move.

It is these types of decisions that make tournaments so fun, but also difficult to play correctly. I post from time-to-time over at the 2+2 forums, and there was a big debate when someone made a point that I have heard you mention several times in your videos - that you are getting essentially what amounts as a huge overlay if you play super-tight early in tournaments because half the field is going to weed itself out in the first hour. The argument was whether you would be in better shape with 1500 chips and 75-150 blinds, but with half the field busted out and dead money in the prize pool, or if you would just do better playing more aggressively from the outset and try to increase your chances of a deep run in the tournament by building a big stack early. Guys went back and forth over the decrease in value of chips as the tournament wears on, but in my opinion, early super-tight play in these low-stakes tourneys is the ONLY way to go. You just can’t navigate the minefield of nutty play in these things if you are putting constantly putting yourself at risk, and if you just lay back you can almost always find a way to get your money in as a significant favorite.

With that in mind, in regards to your QQ hand, I think the fact that your opponent has a high win rate and apparently knows what he’s doing is the deciding factor in the hand. You reraised his 3Xbb raise, and then he responds with a very small reraise back to you, with the other caller still in the hand as well? Now, from one of the many “Any 2 Will Do” maniacs that you often find in these tourneys that kind of action could mean anything from a AK-A2, or suited connectors, or any pocket pair, and I am inclined to push that flop knowing he calls with a lot of hands that he’s chasing with. But with a guy who knows what he’s doing, that little raise, to me, means he wants to keep you in the hand, and is likely indicative of either of the two premium pairs that are crushing you (KK or AA). His little probe bet after the flop, which I believe was something like 1/4 of the pot, seems to be a “suck bet” in an effort to get you pot-committed. Even if he was monkeying around with 88 or 99 he now has a set (I believe there was an 8 and a 9 on the board), and I don’t believe he makes that bet with high cards that missed the flop because he’s building a pot he can’t get away from (that you could easily be trapping him in) with nothing, or any pair lower than that because he’s scared of the overs and the chance that you may have an overpair. He may have 10-10 or JJ at times here and you have the advantage, but I think you are behind here way more than you are ahead.

So I grit my teeth and fold this one, and look for a better spot later. At least you are on this strong player’s left and can treat him with the appropriate caution going forward.

My apologies for making this a book, but it’s kind of a monster of your own creation because this material is so provocative. Anyway, thanks again for a great resource, and I’m looking forward to the next video.

See you at the tables,

Posted : October 12th, 2008

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